1998: Robin Williams’ Visit To UNC

By Ran Northam Posted August 12, 2014 at 7:31 am

Additional reporting by the Associated Press — Story updated 2:55 p.m., August 12, 2014

Walking through UNC’s campus you’ll see many buildings that appeared in the movie Patch Adams.

A now-retired professor at UNC was an extra in the movie. Click here for his recollection of Williams.

Actor Robin Williams, who died at the age of 63 Monday, played the role of the physician who was known for his loud clothing and use of laughter and joy as a part of the healing process. Preliminary reports were released Tuesday afternoon stating Williams was was believed to have died by asphyxiation due to hanging. He was found with his belt around his neck and the other end wedged between the closet door and the door jam.The movie is based on a book Adams wrote with Maureen Mylander, Gesundheit: Good Health is a Laughing Matter. Gesundheit is also the name of Adams’ medical institute in Urbana, Illinois.

Although critics downplayed the movie’s success, Williams seemed to fit the role perfectly with his boisterous comedic style. Adams himself was reportedly critical of the movie. He told film critic Roger Ebert, “I hate that movie,” according to a tweet by Ebert in 2011. He reportedly didn’t like the way he was portrayed as merely a “funny” doctor.

Courtesy of TriangleTravels.com

Courtesy of TriangleTravels.com

In the film, UNC’s Carroll Hall was transformed into a building from the fictional Virginia Medical University. Adams received his Doctor of Medicine degree at Virginia Commonwealth University (Medical College of Virginia) in 1971.

Many other buildings from UNC’s campus can be seen throughout the film, including the iconic and controversial shot in which Adams, in the movie, welcomed a conference of gynecologists to campus using papier-mâché legs in stirrups on either side of the doors to the building. The website, TriangleTravels.com says that construction was frowned upon by students attending a Women’s Studies class across the green.

Carroll Hall (Photo by Dan Sears)

Carroll Hall (Photo by Dan Sears)

The filming on UNC’s campus took place in June 1998.

Williams got his big break in the 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork & Mindy.” He won an Academy Award for his role as an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.”

Tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry are pouring in as word of actor and comedian Robin Williams’ death spreads.

Photo courtesy of TriangleTravels.com

Photo courtesy of TriangleTravels.com

Chevy Chase says Williams was “a tremendous talent in the most important art of any time — comedy!”

Ben Stiller, who co-starred with Williams in “Night at the Museum” says, “His kindness and generosity is what I think of.”

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