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Robin Williams Left Mark On City Of Boston

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Actor Robin Williams died Monday at the age of 63 in an apparent suicide.

Williams won an Academy Award for his role in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.” Much of the film was shot in Boston and Cambridge, and while he was here, he made a big impression.

Matt Damon (L) and Ben Affleck (R) pose with Robin Williams with Oscars won for 'Good Will Hunting' at 70th Annual Academy Awards in 1998 in Los Angeles. (Photo credit should read HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images)

Matt Damon (L) and Ben Affleck (R) pose with Robin Williams with Oscars won for ‘Good Will Hunting’ at 70th Annual Academy Awards in 1998 in Los Angeles. (Photo credit should read HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images)

In a career that spanned decades, the time Williams spent in Boston seemed to have stuck with him as well.

L Street Tavern, the South Boston bar made famous in the film, still credits Williams and the crew for putting them on the map. When he accepted the Academy Award, he singled out Southie, telling the people of South Boston, “you’re a can of corn, you’re the best.”

Years later, while talking to WBZ-TV about the film “What Dreams May Come,” he was still cracking jokes about South Boston.

“You still a wicked pissah smart? How are ya, what are ya doing,” Williams said in a Boston accent during the 1998 interview. “Hello, all the folks at L Street. How ya doing?”

The L Street Tavern posted a statement on their Facebook page after learning of the actor’s death Monday night:

Rest Peacefully Robin Williams. You were a comedic genius and a friend to all here while filming Good Will Hunting. Thanks for recognizing South Boston in your Academy Award acceptance speech and the many fond memories at L Street Tavern and South Boston Bowl. You, too, are a “Can of Corn”.

L Street Tavern in Boston. (WBZ-TV)

L Street Tavern in Boston. (WBZ-TV)

“His work in standup, it was really revolutionary,” according to Boston-based comedian and actor Steve Sweeney. “It was just like a phenomenon, very dynamic and broke ground for a lot of people.”

Sweeney is one of the local comics who got to meet Williams a couple of times, including once when Williams watched Sweeney do a stand-up routine and later came backstage to say he liked his set.

“Then another time I met him and he was just very, very off,” Sweeney explained. “In other words, he’s very ‘on’, like super on, like hyper on. Then when he was off, he was very quiet, you know, a hard guy to get to know… He struck me as the kind of person you wouldn’t get to know.”

Sweeney says it’s not unusual for high energy comics like Williams to have a frantic on-stage persona, but be quite different even reserved off stage.

“I would have to say this is a major loss,” Sweeney said.

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