- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - In public, Robin Williams shared only the joy he found in life, never the sorrow. He was the same man in private, shielding even longtime friends from the darkness of depression that finally enveloped him.

“I can honestly say I never saw him in the down times,” said comedian David Steinberg, who was friends with Williams for more than 30 years and toured with him for six months last year in a two-man show. “I read about it, heard about it, but that down time he kept to himself.”

When the endlessly inventive, explosively manic comedian and actor was found dead in his Northern California home Monday, an apparent suicide, the brutal shock was felt by fans, friends and colleagues alike.

Williams, 63, who had been so breezily open about seeking therapy - “I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open,” he joked in 2006 - minimized or hid the immensity of his pain from perhaps all but a handful of people.

Steve Martin, a pal who worked with Williams, tweeted that he was “stunned by the loss.” Chevy Chase, in a statement, said he and friend Williams both suffered from depression but added, “I never could have expected this ending to his life.”

Last month, the star of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” ”Good Will Hunting” and “Good Morning, Vietnam” said he was re-entering a 12-step program after months of nonstop work. After he died, his publicist confirmed he had suffered in recent weeks from depression.

It was one of several efforts over the years to overcome substance abuse. Solace from those close to him was a different matter - even as Williams faced self-described financial pressures.

Comedy club impresario Jamie Masada said he nicknamed Williams the “Doctor of Soul” because his irresistible humor could make people forget their problems. How Williams coped with his own woes, or that he had any, remained a mystery, Masada said.

“Robin always had this mask on. I could never tell that he was depressed. He had such high energy, always,” said the owner of the famed Laugh Factory clubs.

Williams was in fine form last year during his U.S. concert tour with Steinberg, in which Steinberg served as interviewer and partner-in-laughs for his friend. Their venture stemmed from a benefit the pair had done for the Cleveland Clinic.

“He seemed a little mellower,” said Steinberg, adding that there was never any drug or alcohol use by Williams during the tour which, while grueling, was a success.

Cinematographer John Bailey, who worked with Williams on the independent film “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn” in 2012, said the role he played, of a difficult, terminally ill man, was revealing.

It “gets to that sort of really dark humor that he had, which is just below the surface. In this film it’s right there. People didn’t really understand it. They didn’t want to accept that part. It’s a significant part of his genius.”

Whatever distress he was feeling, Williams was invariably charming and professional, whether working for pay or charity, others said.

On the set of his 2013-14 CBS comedy, “The Crazy Ones,” Williams’ favorite word was “wonderful!” said series executive producer Dean Lorey, who also recalled his kindness toward Lorey’s 16-year-old son on set.

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