The Truth About Robin Williams' Children

The following article mentions suicide and addiction. 

The untimely death of Robin Williams is certainly one of Hollywood's greatest tragedies. The actor took his life in 2014 at age 63 after reportedly suffering from misdiagnosed Lewy body disease, which is a devastating form of dementia. Williams had a long career in film and TV that spanned almost four decades, and he was beloved for his ability to make people smile. While many around the world were saddened by his death, Williams' own family had to grieve his loss on a deeper level. 

Williams' three children, Zachary (Zak) Pym Williams, Zelda Williams, and Cody Alan Williams, all appeared to be quite close with their dad despite spending most of their early days out of the spotlight. Zak is Williams' son from his first marriage to Valerie Velardi, whom he was married to from 1978 to 1988. The "Patch Adams" actor went on to marry Zak's nanny, Marsha Garces, in 1989, and the two had Zelda and Cody before divorcing in 2008.

The "Mrs. Doubtfire" star adored his children, telling the Daily Mail in 2011, "I'm so proud of them, and we get on really well. Zak's going for a business degree, Cody's studying music production, Zelda's acting and doing great." In 2014, during his last Reddit AMA, he even gushed, "My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings." So let's get to know these "extraordinary human beings" who have shared a lot more about themselves as adults.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

They used their grief to help others

Robin Williams' children naturally took their father's death very hard, but they used their mourning as an opportunity to help others. Zelda Williams copes with the tragedy by giving back in her father's name. On what would've been his 65th birthday, she wrote to her dad in a now-deleted Instagram post, (via Us Weekly), "I tried to help three causes you cared about in one; rescue dogs, people suffering from disabilities, and our nation's wounded veterans, so I donated to" She suggested in 2018 that Willams' fans mourn the actor by helping the homeless "in his name" (via ET).

"The Birdcage" actor's eldest son, Zak Williams, decided to throw himself into mental health advocacy. He told People, "One thing I found very healing for me through my experience has been service and commitment to service work, specifically around mental health and mental health support organizations." Yet he did have his struggles, saying on "The Genius Life" podcast that following his father's death, he initially "was self-medicating through the trauma using alcohol" before getting help.

As for Cody Williams, he's remained the most private over the years. In a statement (via TIME), Cody expressed his deep "love and respect" for his father. "I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life," he said, in part.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Zak Williams spoke out about his father's disease and misdiagnosis

It had to be hard for Robin Williams' children to watch their father suffer in his final days. According to People, the "Jack" actor had been misdiagnosed with Parkinson's Disease before it was discovered after his death that Williams actually had Lewy body dementia. His son, Zak Williams, explained on "The Genius Life" podcast, "There was a focus issue that frustrated him" and that "he was very uncomfortable." Zak said that because of his father's sickness, "I couldn't help but feel, beyond empathy, frustrated for him ... It led me to reaching out more consistently. ... And I wanted to be there for him on a daily basis."

Zak also opened up about feeling powerless during this time. He told "Good Morning Britain" (via People), "As a family member and a child, you want to do everything you can to help soothe and ease what seemed to be intense personal pain." He continued, "There were times where it felt like there was helplessness from my part, I didn't know what I could do..."

The actor apparently didn't want to burden his family. Zak revealed that they "found it difficult because he wasn't always open to sharing his personal pain and struggle." He added that his father "still went out and performed" amid his suffering. Zak said "having to share him was hard," but the grieving son also expressed his great love and admiration for his dad. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

They found their own work in Hollywood

Robin Williams' children have followed in their father's footsteps by taking on their own projects in Hollywood. Zelda has pursued acting as her career. She made her debut in 1994's "In Search of Dr. Seuss" and later landed guest roles on TV series including "Teen Wolf," "Dead of Summer" and "Jane the Virgin," to name a few of her many acting credits. She dished to People that when it comes to acting, "I knew I was never going to be my father, so I went into it because I love it." The actor did tell ET that her dad gave her some advice to "be kind" and "work very hard."

Zelda's half-brother, Zak Williams, did some acting in the 2008 comedy film "The Graduates" and the TV movie "Slow Your Roll: Extreme Comedy." These days, he's running his business, PYM (an acronym for "Prepare Your Mind"), which sells mood chews. Zak was moved to create the company when he was looking for ways "to heal and piece my life back together" after Robin Williams' death.

The youngest sibling, Cody Williams, seems to prefer a more behind-the-scenes role. Radar noted that he has reportedly worked as an assistant director on several films. With his lack of social media and interviews, though, it makes sense that unlike his older brother and sister, Cody isn't into the spotlight.

The Williams boys are both married

The Williams boys not only got married in recent years, but they also managed to incorporate their father, Robin Williams, into their big days with the dates they chose for their weddings. Per People, on July 21, 2019, the actor's youngest son, Cody Williams, tied the knot with his love of several years, singer Maria Flores, on what would have been his dad's 68th birthday. The two held the ceremony at Cody's mom, Marsha Garces Williams', home and lit candles to pay tribute to those in their families they had lost.

Cody's big brother, Zak Williams, also honored his dad when it came to his wedding, since he chose to marry his PYM co-founder, Olivia June, on World Mental Health Day. Zak tweeted at the time that they "couldn't have tied the knot on a better day." June explained how they did it amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing on her Instagram that the couple "asked a few of our closest family and friends to get tested and invited them to the dreamy Paramour Estate for a ceremony, outdoor dinner and some joyful moments in an otherwise very trying year."

As for Zelda Williams, her three-year romance with Australian actor Jackson Heywood ended in 2016 (via the Daily Mail), and her current relationship status is private. She was clearly happy for her brothers, though. In a now-deleted 2019 Instagram post (via People), Zelda wrote to her sister-in-law, Maria Flores, "You were already part of the family in my eyes."

Zelda, Zak, and Cody Williams feuded with their stepmother

Robin Williams' widow, Susan Schneider, isn't necessarily on good terms with his children following the actor's death. In fact, Zak, Zelda, and Cody Williams were reportedly involved in a bitter feud with Schneider over their dad's estate. NBC News detailed that Schneider had accused them in court documents of "unilaterally remov[ing]" Williams' personal items from the couple's shared home in Tiburon, California, which prevented her from grieving her husband due to the "frenetic efforts to interfere with her domestic tranquility."

Lawyers for the Williamses called Schneider's claims "despicable and wholly untrue" in a correspondence with NBC News. Zelda even wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post (via the Daily Mail), "My brothers and I have not at any point since dad's death been invited to or visited his and Susan's house in Tiburon, nor have we removed anything from it."

Schneider later told "GMA" (via Yahoo! News) that she felt she had to take legal action, claiming, "I was told that I might not be able to keep our wedding gifts." She did however, eventually reach a settlement with her stepchildren. While the "Jumanji" actor left his $100 million estate to his children, Schneider was able to remain in their shared home (which was sold in 2020), as well as keep some of his personal items. In 2020, Schneider told USA Today that when it comes to their past feud, "We've all moved on and I wish them well," even though they haven't been in touch since. 

They inherited their father's $100 million estate

When it comes to money, it seems that Robin Williams' children, Zak, Zelda, and Cody Williams, have nothing to worry about. The "Night at the Museum" actor made sure they would still be taken care of financially long after his death. According to Vanity Fair, Williams left his entire estate, worth more than $100 million, to his children. The Daily Mail reported that most of his jewelry, memorabilia, awards, and other personal items were included.

The actor had created a trust in 2009, prior to his death, to make sure that his children wouldn't spend all their money when they were young and immature. According to TMZ, each child received a third of their share when they turned 21, half of the remainder they turned 25, and the rest of their share at age 30. While it's unclear how much they got from their father, Zelda has an estimated net worth of $20 million, so her brothers might be worth a similar amount.

The two older Williams children apparently already spent some of their money on real estate. Zelda dropped $4.3 million on an L.A. home previously owned by writer Aldous Huxley (per Dirt), after listing her former nearby house for $3.2 million. As for Zak, in 2021, Dirt reported that he and his wife purchased a "French-country inspired villa" in L.A.'s Sherman Oaks neighborhood for $3 million. It seems that the Williams kids have, so far, put their inheritance to good use. 

Zelda Williams takes breaks from social media

It appears that Zelda Williams has a love-hate relationship with social media, particularly when it comes to her father's death. Zelda seems to love connecting with her late dad's fans, but it seems it can sometimes be too much for her. In 2015, she shared how she takes breaks from social media near the anniversary of Robin Williams' death, writing (via Us Weekly), "It's a time better served away from the opinions or sentiments of others..."

In 2018, she explained her hiatuses in more detail, writing (via ET), "These weeks are the hardest for me... For all the internet's good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it's very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now." In 2020, Zelda tweeted that such interactions "can feel a bit like being seen as a roadside memorial," leaving her "emotionally buried under a pile of other's memories instead of my own." Zelda has since deleted all of her Instagram posts but still remains very active on Twitter.

Yet in 2021, she found herself struggling on Twitter, as well, after fans bombarded her DMs with a viral video of comedian Jamie Costa impersonating her father. Zelda wrote in a now-deleted tweet (via the New York Post), "please, stop sending me the 'test footage'. I've seen it... y'all spamming me an impression of my late Dad on one of his saddest days is weird."

Zelda Williams was named after a video game

Zelda Williams didn't just inherit her father's love of acting; she also shares his fascination with video games. Per Variety, Robin Williams was a "'huge' gamer" and named his daughter after the video game "The Legend of Zelda." He dished on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (via Variety), "It was a sweet name and really kind of fit her. She's really kind of magical."

In 2011, Zelda appeared with her dad in commercials for "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D," where they joked about his fondness for gaming. Following Williams' death, Nintendo released a statement to Polygon that read, "Our hearts go out to his entire family and especially to Zelda Williams, who we've worked with multiple times... we will hold our memories of Robin close."

In 2017, Zelda participated in a charity event with Nintendo by gaming for eight hours via live stream, admitting to The Hollywood Reporter, "As serious as I am about being named after the game and loving video games and thinking that they're very interesting, at the same time I'm not an extreme gamer..." She did add that when it comes to Nintendo, "I love working with them in the sense that they send me the games and I get to be nerdy and tweet about them every once in a while." Zelda dressed up as a character from her namesake video game for Halloween in 2019, which sent fans into a tizzy. 

Zak Williams keeps busy with work and family

Zak William may not be in show business like his family, but he stays busy with his mood chews company, PYM. He revealed on his website, "After my dad took his life in August of 2014, my anxiety went into overdrive. I found myself depressed, anxious, traumatized, and unable to cope with daily life." After turning to "alcohol and cannabis products" to cope, Zak got sober and looked for something to "bring [his brain] back to center." He explained that "there are a wealth of botanical adaptogens and amino acid complexes that help recalibrate our body and brain so it can heal itself." In addition to the product, PYM is home to an active mental health blog.

Outside of work, Zak is a dad to son McLaurin Clement Williams and baby daughter Zola June Williams. McLaurin was Robin Williams' middle name. Zak told People in 2020 how he plans to teach his children about their late grandfather, saying, "Certainly through his movies and the cartoons that he participated in is a great way." He added that he wants his kids to know Robin "in a way that there can be appreciation and acknowledgment of him both as an entertainer, but also as a family man."

Zak also spends his time advocating for mental health. On National Suicide Prevention Day, he shared a photo of his father on Instagram and wrote (in part): "We need to show up for suicide survivors and for those contemplating suicide. Everyone is important and valuable, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, weird or wrong or negative in reaching out and getting help."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

They dealt with their dad's fame and addiction

It's safe to say that during his career, "Insomnia" actor Robin Williams shielded his three children from his fame. Zelda Williams told Chelsea Handler in 2016, "I didn't really grow up in the spotlight. We lived in San Francisco." She revealed that her father's career did come with its challenges, though, telling People in 2008, "He wasn't around much when I was a kid, but I have this wonderful opportunity to get to know him now. He's taking more of a break." She continued, "He's not doing four films a year... Now he has more time for us."

While her father's fame didn't seem to negatively impact Zelda growing up, she was affected by his struggles with addiction. Following her dad's return to rehab in 2006, she told People, "I took a vow of sobriety when my dad relapsed, so I don't drink." 

Her brother, Zak Williams, also spoke out about his father's addiction. He explained on The Dr. Oz Show, "I was acutely aware of my dad's struggles with depression; it manifested in addiction at times." He also pointed out how Williams "took great lengths to support his well-being and mental health, especially when he was challenged." On "The Genius Life" podcast, Zak told Max Lugavere that he, too, got help when he was struggling with alcoholism and sought treatment by joining a 12-step program.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Zelda Williams frequently speaks her mind

When it comes to her personal life, Zelda Williams appears to be an open book. She even dished about dating, tweeting in 2021, "My dating world has ALWAYS been weird. I had a dude stop dating me because I laughed like my Dad and then he couldn't unhear it..." Like her father, Zelda has a sense of humor, joking, "at least Tetris keeps me warm at night by occasionally overheating my phone." She's also been vocal about being bisexual, telling Chelsea Handler (via ET), "I speak openly about it because I think there are a lot of people who don't hear anyone saying it enough, or if they do they hear them, getting a lot of crap for it." 

Outside of her love life, Zelda has shared about aphantasia to help those who also have the disorder. "Seems like a lot of folks have questions about aphantasia (the inability to visualize mental images)... I personally believe people don't talk about the drastically different ways we all think often enough," she tweeted.

Zelda doesn't shy away from talking politics, either. When Eric Trump shared a video of her dad making jokes about President Joe Biden, Zelda replied (via ET), "While we're 'reminiscing' (to further your political agenda), you should look up what he said about your Dad. I did. Promise you, it's much more 'savage.'" It's clear that Zelda and her brothers are strong, successful people that their father would be proud of.