At only 14, actress Lisa Jakub had already learned Hollywood was full of backstabbers. Luckily, she had Robin Williams in her corner.
Robin, who died roughly a year ago, wrote a letter on behalf of Lisa 22 years ago following the filming of the now classic film Mrs. Doubtfire, the Huffington Post reported.
In the film, Williams played Daniel Hillard, the divorced dad who turns to cross-dressing and impersonating a nanny in order to be close to his three children, among them Lisa’s character — his eldest daughter, Lydie, MTV News recounted.
When Jakub returned home from the five-month shoot, she had rather unwelcome reception waiting for her: she’d been expelled from school because of her long absence. And Robin wrote a letter defending her and compelling them to take her back.
— Lisa Jakub (@Lisa_Jakub) September 22, 2015
Lisa, now 36, remembered the life-changing moment in August last year, when Williams died.
“My high school was not happy. My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a ‘non-traditional’ student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.”
Robin wasn’t happy about it and wouldn’t take the unjust decision lying down either. When Jakub arrived on set the next day, Williams noticed the girl was upset, and she confessed all. The day after, she said Williams handed her a letter addressed to her principal.
She told Robin she doubted that whatever he wrote, it wouldn’t sway him.
“He said, ‘It’s kinda like Amnesty International. That school just needs to know that people know the truth.'”
— pageofman (@PageOfMan) September 28, 2015
The letter is quite remarkable. Not only is it peppered with glowing praise for his young co-star, it’s written on Mrs. Doubtfire letter head and hand-signed by the actor. On Sunday, the letter appeared on Reddit, posted by a user named “Shemp-Howard” who identified it as “a letter Robin Williams wrote to the school of his child co-star, after she was expelled for missing class to film ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.'”
In the one-page letter, Williams wrote that Lisa was a “bright, inquisitive and an eager to learn young lady,” whom he called “charming and a delight.”
Williams urged the principal to let her back into school because, though she was an actress in a major film, she “should not be denied the social learning experiences that come with high school and being a teenager.”
“She should be… encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements.”
One would think that a letter written by Robin Williams himself would be enough to convince the school principal to let 14-year-old Lisa back into the classroom. You’d be wrong — they didn’t take her back. But they did frame the letter and hang it in the principal’s office.
“But they didn’t invite me to return to school,” Lisa said.
“Even though I had not spoken with Robin in a very long time, I always assumed there would be some future opportunity to tell him that his letter changed my life. It taught me that you stand up for the things that matter. And even if your attempts fail, you tried. You told the truth. You took care of your friends. You fought back… Robin stood up for me. He was in my corner. I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.”
Of course, the emergence of the decades-old letter has inspired many people to express both their grief at Williams’ passing and their love for an actor who wasn’t just beloved on screen, but was beloved for his real-life acts of kindness and generosity.
[Photo Courtesy Kevin Winter / Getty Images]