Among his many triumphs, Robin Williams stood with striking writers

Shock at the death of Robin Williams led me to search to see what – if anything – we had written about him since 2002, the farthest back these archives go. What I found surprised me: a 2008 story about the Writers Guild of America strike, “Letterman proves union-made comedy is funnier.” (It surprised me because I wrote it and obviously had forgotten about it.)

Williams was the first guest on “The Late Show with David Letterman” after Letterman settled with the union during the contract fight. Williams puts on a working-class British accent praising Letterman, “You’re a friend of the brother worker, David, even though you’re dressed right now like Dale Carnegie…it’s a good thing what you’ve done, Dave. You’ve struck a blow … against, pretty much, insanity.”

As Letterman pulls out a photograph of Williams on the picket line, he jokes how he was out there “handing out donuts and caviar.”

Williams came on the show right after his USO tour of Iraq and Afghanistan, which he talks about at length.

Below is a 10-minute clip of that terrific show and – now unforgettable – moment in time with the brilliant Williams. 

Photo: Actor Robin Williams, left, marches in the picket line with others during the fourth day of a strike by television and film writers, Nov. 8, 2007, at the Time Warner Center in New York. Tina Fineberg/AP


Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People’s World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW’s social media presence. Albano had been a staff writer for People’s World covering political, labor, and social justice issues for more than 25 years. She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, including India, Cuba, Angola, Italy, and Paris to cover the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. An award-winning journalist, Albano has been honored for her writing by the International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women, and Illinois Woman Press Association.