'Robin's Wish:' Meet Robin Williams's Widow, Susan Schneider Williams

She is promoting a new documentary about her late husband.

'Robin's Wish' Who Is Robin Williams's Widow? Everything To Know About Susan Schneider Williams Everett Collection / Shutterstock

It's been six years since Robin Williams died by suicide. While his death was a shock to the public, his family had known that he was struggling with multiple physical and mental issues in the months prior to his passing. But it was only after doctors performed an autopsy that his wife found out what had really been wrong: Williams had a form of dementia known as Lewy body dementia (LBD) that was slowly destroying his brain.


These days, Williams's widow, Susan Schneider Williams works as an advocate for LBD awareness. She is also promoting a new film about her husband's remarkable career and the struggle with the disease that ended his life. Robin's Wish premiered on streaming platforms this week.

Who is Robin Williams's widow, Susan Schneider Wllliams?

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Who is Susan Schneider Williams?

She was his third wife. Williams was married twice before meeting Schneider. He and first wife Valerie Valardi married in 1978 and had son Zak together in 1983 before divorcing in 1988. In 1989, Williams married Marsha Garces, who had been employed as a nanny for Zak before starting a relationship with Williams. At the time they married, she was expecting their daughter Zelda who arrived later in 1989. Two years later, son Cody was born. The couple separated in 2008 and were divorced by 2010. Schneider and Williams met at some point in 2009 and they were involved seriously enough that she was his caregiver when he was recovering from heart surgery that year. They got married in 2011. 

Susan Schneider Williams is an artist.

Williams studied art at the California College of the Arts, and while she loves creating original pieces of her own, she focused her career on graphic design for many years. She had her own firm called Critical Eye Design for 15 years. 



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Susan and Robin Williams. 

Susan Williams was able to move full-time into painting. 

By 2006, she wanted to get back to her first love, which was painting. She remained her business Susan Schneider Fine Art and began working on a full-time painting career, as well as teaching and mentoring younger artists. She worked with others in the art community to curate gallery shows and she herself has exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions. 

Becoming an advocate for Lewy body dementia was never her dream. 

Like so many family members who become advocates after something terrible affects their family, Williams felt a drive to raise awareness about LBD after her husband died of it. She hadn't known what LBD was until Robin Williams's post-mortem diagnosis in 2014. Before that, she and Williams had both been desperately seeking answers about why his brain and body were failing him. In a 2016 editorial, she described the months before his death and the shocking decline he went into right after filming Night At The Museum 3. Together, they were trying to find some kind of treatment to the ally symptoms like tremors, stomach issues, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and memory loss. After Williams died, his doctors learned that the lewy body proliferation in his brain was so severe that nearly all of his neurons were affected. 


At the end of Robin Williams's life, the couple was sleeping separately.

Williams has described the final months of her husband's life in tragic detail. One of the problems that plagued both of them was lack of sleep. For Robins Williams, it was insomnia due the disease progression. For his wife, it was being unable to sleep while the man she loved was awake beside her. Finally, doctors suggested they sleep apart to see if they could get more rest. "He said to me, 'Does this mean we're separated?'" she remembers. "That was a really shocking moment. When your best friend, your partner, your love — you realize that there's a giant chasm somewhere, and you can't see where it is but that's just not based in reality. That was a hard moment."

Susan Williams fought with Robin's kids over his will.

The first eight months after becoming a widow were marked by legal battles as well as finding medical answers. Williams left most of his estate to his children, with provisions to make sure his wife could stay in the home they shared and support herself and her teenage kids. Settling the estate, however, turned into a protracted and bitter legal fight between Williams and the three children who thought she was trying to take more than she deserved, particularly considering that she had only been married to Williams for three years when he passed away. Eventually, they came to an agreement and Williams was able to stay in the house and keep some sentimental items from her husband. 

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A new documentary Robin's Wish explores Williams's final years. 

Robin's Wish, directed by Tyler Norwood, features Williams's widow as she talks about LBD and what it did to the legendary actor before his death. Her segments are interspersed with interviews with people who knew him and worked with him. The film is intended to paint a picture of the actor as well as to raise awareness of Lewy body dementia. Williams hopes that the film helps promoted her husband's legacy saying, "We had been discussing what we wanted our legacies to be in life; when it was our time to go, how we wanted to have made people feel. Without missing a beat, Robin said, 'I want to help people be less afraid.'"


Robin's Wish is available on streaming platforms. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.