One of the most beloved entertainers of his generation, Robin Williams delighted audiences with his quirky comedy and improvisational style on television, film and during his stand-up comedy routines.

Born in Chicago, Illinois on July 21, 1951, Williams described himself as a quiet child who did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his High School drama department.

In 1973 he attained a full scholarship to the prestigious Julliard School, a music and dance centre in New York City, where he made friends with Christopher Reeve.

After appearing in the cast of the short-lived The Richard Pryor Show, Williams received his first big television break as the alien Mork in a 1978 episode of the hit TV series Happy Days. His off-kilter, improvised performance proved so popular with viewers that it led to a spin-off sitcom, Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982.

But Williams is most fondly remembered for his numerous iconic film roles. He received his first Academy Award nomination for his performance in 1987's Good Morning, Vietnam as a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War.

He would go on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as a psychologist in 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, and was also nominated for his turns as an inspirational English teacher in 1989 film Dead Poet's Society, and as a troubled homeless man in 1991's The Fisher King.

As well as these critically acclaimed performances, Williams also lent his voice to a number of animated features, where his improvisational style was given the chance to shine. His most famous turn was as the Genie in Disney's 1992 movie Aladdin, and Williams would go on use his voice talents in Fern Gully, A.I. and Happy Feet.

Away from the limelight, Williams struggled with depression and battled addictions to drugs and alcohol. He said that the 1982 death of his good friend John Belushi provided a 'wake-up call', but he would go on to relapse, entering rehab in 1996 and again just a few weeks before his death.

He died at the age of 63 on 11 August 2014 of what is suspected to be asphyxiation. He is survived by his wife, Susan Schneider, and three children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody.