Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Back Then: Robin Williams brightened birthday bash

Why Dorothy's special day will always evoke memories of actor

Dorothy Walsh and actor Robin Williams
The star's treasured birthday message

Dorothy Walsh's birthdays from now on will be tinged with a little bit of sadness. For 10 years ago the film star who wished her many happy returns as she celebrated another passing year in a Manhattan restaurant was Robin Williams.

"Now after the way he died, and so prematurely, I'll think of him with sadness every time my birthday comes round," said Dorothy, wife of former BBC controller Robin Walsh.

She and Robin and their daughters Gillian and Karen were in New York on holiday and were having a birthday dinner for her in a plush eatery.

"Williams and his friend, the author Salman Rushdie, came to the next table," she explained. "Obviously they overheard a birthday toast from the family and the Mrs Doubtfire star came over to wish me every happiness."

But the celebrations didn't end there. For the manager of the restaurant asked Williams if he would pose for a picture with the chef out on the sidewalk. He agreed – but on his conditions.

"Much to our amazement he knocked on the window and beckoned Dorothy to come outside and have her picture taken too," said Robin Walsh.

And he also took time to sign the card, which I reproduce here along with the photograph. Hence a picture and a message shrouded in sadness for the Walsh family, especially Dorothy.

A final quote from Dorothy: "He was the perfect gentleman – so charming and thoughtful. The manner of his death has obviously been a terrific shock to so many people and I am not surprised at the real warmth of the tributes which have been paid to him." Williams, who took his own life, once said on the subject of suicide: "If you are that depressed reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

Punk stalwarts endure the years like a marriage made in Heaven

Thirty-seven years ago, in 1977, I missed the bash at which Jake Burns and his mates launched Stiff Little Fingers.

I had a very good reason – I was in church getting married at the time.

But this Thursday at 6pm I will be marked present when a book to tell the ongoing story of the punk band that seems to go on forever – just like my marriage – is launched in Eason's of Donegall Place, Belfast.

It's called What You See Is What You Get 1977-1983 (Colourpoint £9.99) and the author is big SLF fan Roland Link, who will be there to sign copies along with former band members Jim Reilly and Henry Cluney.

The late John Peel adored Stiff Little Fingers and so did fans all around the UK.

I'm told that there will be quite a few who will be flying into Belfast for the launch of the book.

Stiff Little Fingers have released their 10th studio album this year. Inevitably there have been changes in the line-up down the years, but the sound and the style remain the same.

On Thursday I'll wish SLF all the best with the book and they'll wish the pair of us, Irene and me, Happy Anniversary for Friday, August 22.

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