“All children, except one, grow up.”
The opening line of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan perfectly embodies the man who WAS the Pan for our generation. A seemingly eternal manchild with such a lengthy and diverse career that it almost felt as though he was right there with us through all of the pivotal moments in our collective adolescence. But now, one of his most immediately recognizable lines rings even truer: “You ain’t never had a friend like me.” And sadly, I’m afraid that we never will again.
In a year that’s already brought with it such terrible loss, Robin Williams’ untimely death shocked the world in a way that few others could. He was one of the rare ones—as kind, generous, and beloved offscreen as the larger-than-life characters that he brought to life on it. His laugh was infectious, and his squinty smile was capable of melting even the most hardened of hearts. He transcended the stereotype of simply being yet another “household name,” and was embraced by our generation to the point that it almost felt like he was one of the family.
And now, we’re left feeling as though the lost boys must have the day that Peter Pan didn’t return to Neverland.
So with that being said, and all of Hollywood sharing their condolences and fond memories of this amazing man, the one that resonates with those of us at the Clubhouse most is that of Williams’ former child co-star, Dante Basco. You might know him better as Rufio, bangarang leader of the lost boys in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 Peter Pan re-imagining, Hook.
On his personal blog, Dante writes:
“With ‘Hook’ and so many other films, I, like millions of others became a fan and was always delightfully surprised by the performances he managed to produce, but with his passing, I can’t help to feel, along with my generation… I can’t help feeling like it’s the death of my childhood. I guess we can’t stay in Neverland forever, we must all grow up.
But I just want to bid a sorrowful farewell to one of the greatest I’ve been able to work with and be around and I’ll always remember my time with you as some of the greatest moments in my life… and just like the rest of the world, I’ll remember you with joy and laughter.
O’ Captain! My Captain! See you in Neverland…”
The actor also talks about having initially become a huge fan of William’s work thanks to his brilliant performance in Dead Poets Society, and recounts hours spent in the makeup chair introspectively discussing poetry with the comedy legend. He filmed a short video as well, focused only on a framed still of one the iconic scenes the two actors shared in the film, where you can quietly hear more that he has to say about the man who touched us all.
Robin Williams may be gone, but his legacy is not. It lives on in the characters that he brought to life. Characters that we can revisit whenever we wish, and I’d encourage you to do it often. And even if you have to leave Neverland, he’s shown us that it’s never too late to go back. It’s simply the second star on the right and straight on ’til morning.
So any time you think of him with sadness in your hearts, just remember the immortal words of Peter Pan…
“To die would be an awfully big adventure.”