US actor and comedian. His rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness delivery and hyperactive stage presence first came to attention in the television comedy series Mork and Mindy (1978–82). In films, he played a subversive disc jockey in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and a cross-dressing actor in the family comedy Mrs Doubtfire (1993), but also excelled in straight dramatic performances, such as in Dead Poets Society (1989) and Good Will Hunting (1998), for which he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
His film debut in a leading role was in Robert Altman's Popeye (1980), a screen version of the popular cartoon series. Later films include The World According to Garp (1982), based on the novel by John Irving, the drama Awakenings (1990), Terry Gilliam's comedy The Fisher King (1991), the family fantasy Jumanji (1995), and the thriller One Hour Photo (2002). He also provided his voice for a number of animated features, most notably as the genie in Disney's Aladdin (1993).
Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a stand-up comic in the late 1970s and continued to deliver his free-association comic rants in live performances and television specials throughout his career.