Robin Williams left his mark in Miami Beach when he filmed the 1996 comedy The Birdcage. He played Armand Goldman, the amazingly low key owner of a drag club whose son wants to impress his fiancée’s conservative parents in the La Cage aux Folles remake.
The Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive was the setting for Williams’ character’s home that he shared with his partner, Albert ( Nathan Lane), as well as the site of the flashy Birdcage Club. The two actors also filmed in other spots around town and on the beach.
Mourners gathered Monday night at the Carlyle after learning of Williams’ suicide at age 63. “Many times, I mean every night, we get the question, ‘Is this where they filmed The Birdcage?’ and of course it is,” manager Damian Besil told WSVN-Fox 7.
Davie resident Lori Valentine, whose husband Fred Valentine ( Graceland) worked as a best boy on The Birdcage, recalls Williams as a fun-loving class act all the way.
“Most celebrities do not go out of the way to greet crew members, especially people they do not see on set,” Lori says. “He did.”
On Facebook, she posted about an unforgettable evening after filming was over. Because the production company did not have a customary wrap party, Williams decided to throw a bash himself for the cast and crew at the National Hotel.
“He provided valet parking for everyone, and once you got out of your car he greeted everyone: ‘Hi, I am Robin, I am so glad you could come to my party, what is your name?’ ” Lori wrote.
Williams mingled with the crowd, “not just the money guys,” and “provided great food and great entertainment all night long. He had a gag reel from the movie that had everyone rolling with laughter. It was his birthday to boot [July 21], so we all sang Happy Birthday to him.”
Williams had other ties to the area. In March 2009, while on tour for his one-man show, Weapons of Self-Destruction, he was hospitalized at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine after complaining of shortness of breath. Roughly a week later, Williams underwent successful surgery for an aortic valve replacement at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.