robin williams
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
December 5, 2023 ·  4 min read

Robin Williams Apparently Made ‘Every Company He Worked For Hire Homeless People And Put Them To Work’

Robin Williams’s death in 2014 was a devastating loss. The late actor and comedian not only connected to people through his humor and films, but he was also regarded as one of the kindest men in Hollywood. As if we needed another reason to adore and miss him, former booking agent, Brian Lord shared a “little-known” story about Williams.  

Although Lord never booked him, he came close enough to have received Williams’s rider. For many celebrities, their riders demand incredibly extravagant treatment. For Robin Williams, he used his as a way to help people. [1] 

I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way…” 

In the entertainment industry, a celebrity’s rider is a document listing their personal and technical needs that need to be met by anyone hiring them. This could include diet specifications, the preferred brand of bottled water, or the method of transportation. A rider could reveal a lot about a person. [2] 

When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found,” Lord writes in a post on his website

He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work

I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that.  I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back

I wonder how many production companies continued the practice into their next non-Robin Williams project, as well as how many people got a chance at a job and the pride of earning an income, even temporarily, from his actions. 

He was a great multiplier of his impact.  Let’s hope that impact lives on without him

Thanks, Robin Williams — not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.” 

However, according to Snopes, Brian Lord’s story remains unverified. It’s not difficult for people to believe that Williams would have such a request in his rider; after all, he was consistently kind, generous, and modest during interviews and fan and work interactions. However, no one else who had worked with Williams stepped forward to confirm this, and no one ever publicized the document. [3] 

Read: Keanu Reeves helps to fund children hospitals but doesn’t attach his name to donations

Who was Robin Williams? 

In his personal life, Robin Williams was a beloved friend and philanthropist. In 1986, he helped raise funds and awareness for homeless people as a co-host for Comic Relief’s debut. This was only one of the many charity organizations Williams has worked with. 

Robin came from a family with money — he was brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth, and I think he felt so blessed that he wanted to do something for people who weren’t brought up like that,” said Comic Relief founder Bob Zmuda. 

He was a comedian in life as well. After Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an accident, he said that Williams was the only one able to make him laugh again. When Reeve was about to enter a serious operation, Williams arrived in scrubs and spoke with a Russian accent, proclaiming that he needed to do a rectal examination.  

For the first time since the accident, I laughed,” Reeve said. “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be OK.” [4] 

I don’t know how to be funny…”

After bringing countless people joy, Robin Williams committed suicide after years of struggling with depression, substance addiction, and then Parkinson’s.  

His neurodegenerative disorder was devastating. While filming his last movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, he struggled with his not-yet-diagnosed symptoms. He had become paranoid, an insomniac, and he struggled to remember his lines. 

He was sobbing in my arms at the end of every day. It was horrible. Horrible,” said makeup artist Cheri Minns. She suggested he go back to stand-up to regain his confidence. “He just cried and said, ‘I can’t Cheri. I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to be funny.” [5]  

His demise is heart-wrenching, but so was the decline that led up to it. Still, he leaves behind a legacy of joy and wisdom that he has brought to others. 

After recovering from a relapse in 2010 that helped end his second marriage, he was asked if he was happier in life. And he responded “I think so. And not afraid to be unhappy. That’s OK too. And then you can be like, all is good. And that is the thing, that is the gift.” [6] 

Keep Reading: Gerard Butler Celebrated His 50th Birthday By Releasing Sea Turtles Into The ocean


  2. “Robin Williams Dead: Actor ‘Always Required Film Companies To Hire Homeless People‘.” HuffPost. August 13, 2014. 
  3. “Did Robin Williams’ Contracts Help the Homeless?” Snopes. August 26, 2014 
  4. “Robin Williams: The man beyond the screen.” CNN. Lisa Respers France. August 13, 2014 
  5. “Robin Williams’ Non-Stop Mind Brought Joy to Millions. But for Him, It Brought Endless Pain.” Biography. Colin Bertram. May 20, 2020 
  6. “Robin Williams: ‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from’.” The Guardian. Decca Aitkenhead.