Hollywood, California - Robin Williams (comedian/ method actor) was backstage with his agent, Jeffrey Goldfrab, going over some comedy routines for that ill-fated evening's canceled performance when suddenly he began to experience chest pains while doing his Redd Foxx impersonation. However, unlike the Foxx, Williams, while still in character, started ranting and raving about shortness of breath, which should have tipped off Goldfrab that something was wrong, but it did not.
"It was right in the middle of his crowd pleaser impersonation of the late comedian, Redd Foxx," said Goldfrab who eventually made the call to 911. "You know the one where Redd Foxx would clasp at his chest with one hand while waving the other in the air to Heaven walking around the room saying, 'I'm coming Elizabeth. I'm coming darling."
While Williams was right in the middle of doing that comedic routine when he too started experiencing chest pain, only Goldfrab did not realize it at first.
"So I didn't catch on right of way that something was terribly wrong," said Goldfrab. "Which I might add is precisely the way Redd Foxx went as well. Looking back on it now, I think how ironic "
As Williams walked over to his agent while still in character he called Goldfrab a big dummy.
"That's a great new line," said Goldfrab on his way out of the dressing room. "Keep the 'big dummy' thing, it's outrageously funny. See you later tonight, dearest. Good luck with the show tonight. Break a leg and all that."
Alone in his dressing room, Williams struggled to make the 911 call himself still suffering shortness of breath and still in character.
Only when the 911 dispatcher received the emergency call from Williams she got it as him still doing his Redd Foxx impersonation. Which confused the dispatcher into thinking she was on the other end of the phone line receiving a command performance or sorts, delaying Williams's emergency treatment.
While laughs, cheers and calls for encores came over the other end of the phone, ticking away precious life saving moments, Goldfrab just happened to walk back into the dressing room looking for his misplaced car keys, instead coming across the nearly unconscious Williams trying to convince the dispatcher he was in serious need of help.
"What can I say," said Goldfrab, "The man is an adamant professional through and through to the very end. I'll be damned if we don't get more for his next movie after this. Those method-acting classes are really going to pay off now. I better check on him at the hospital to make sure he's not doing the rounds as 'Patch Adams' instead of getting the rest he so badly needs. The man is always thinking of others before himself."
Looking back on the incident, Goldfrab is convinced the real reason Williams remained in character as Redd Foxx during his heat attack was not merely do to the confusion brought about by the cut off of a proper supply of oxygen to the brain like the physicians explained, but something more.
"The man is simply ahead of his time," insisted Goldfrab. "Obviously Williams was incorporating his own near death experience by using his method-acting skills to improve his comedic routine. The man is an artist that is truly committed to his craft, willing to die right there on stage for his audience: the 911 dispatcher. His sense of comedic timing is unsurpassed in the industry. I'm just sorry I didn't have the presence of mind to see it at the time and ruined his final farewell performance by saving his life. But then again, who among us has that genius of comedy to even to realize they just bared witnesses to its birth in its final throws of death."