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Robin Williams found 'Paradise' in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | August 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Leonie Forbes remembers Robin Williams' grace and charm. - File
One of the official posters for 'Club Paradise'. - Contributed PHOTOS
Jimmy Cliff (left), Robin Williams (centre) and Peter O'Toole in Club Paradise.

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

The death of Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams shocked many persons the world over, and Jamaica is no different. Since news of William's death broke on Monday, many Jamaicans have been offering glowing tributes to an actor whose illustrious career saw him venturing to the island for the movie, Club Paradise.

In an official statement sent to The Gleaner, The Jamaica Film Commission expressed sadness at the actor's death. "The Jamaican film industry is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of comic and actor, Robin Williams. Williams has worked with members of the Jamaican industry from as far back as 1985 when he, along with Peter O'Toole and Jimmy Cliff, co-starred in the movie, Club Paradise," the statement said. It went on to offer condolences to the Williams' family and friends.

Club Paradise is an American comedy shot in Jamaica and released in 1985. Its plot surrounds the adventures of a retired firefighter (Williams) who decides to live it up in the Caribbean. Williams crosses paths with a musician known as Ernest Reed (played by Cliff), and together, they form Club Paradise, which they market as an upscale resort location. Much of the comedic value in the movie comes from the unsuspecting tourists who suffer various misfortunes during their stay at Club Paradise.

Premiere destination

The film showcases Jamaica as a premiere location and also utilised a host of local talent. Jimmy Cliff not only co-starred in the film, but was also the man responsible for producing a number of songs on the soundtrack, including Club Paradise, American Plan, Third World People and You Can't Keep a Good Man Down.

Other Jamaican artistes whose work featured on the soundtrack include Bob Marley and Yellowman, with Trinidadian Mighty Sparrow making a contribution, as well. Jamaicans Earl 'China' Smith, Cathy Levy, Louise Bennett-Coverley and Leonie Forbes were also part of the cast.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Forbes recalled Williams as "... such a charming, warm and open young gentleman who really made everyone feel welcome and comfortable."

"I was really shocked when I heard the news on Monday and, I'm sad to see him go at such a young age. The industry has lost a huge talent. Condolences to his family," Forbes said.

Williams' Jamaican connections did not end with Club Paradise, as he returned to the island in 2007 for the film, License to Wed, starring Mandy Moore and John Krasinski.

He died on Monday at his residence in the San Franciso area of California, at 63 years-old. Yesterday, the sheriff's office confirmed that he committed suicide by using his belt to hang himself. Williams' body was found by his personal assistant.