Robin Williams grew up in Michigan and belonged to the world, but he had deep family roots in Mississippi.
The actor-comedian who died Monday was the great-great-grandson of one of the state’s leading turn-of-the-20th century politicians, Anselm J. McLaurin of Brandon. McLaurin was a U.S. senator (1894-95 and 1901-1909) and the first governor of Mississippi elected under the state’s 1890 Constitution, serving from 1896-1900.
McLaurin was the maternal great-grandfather of Williams’ mother, Laurie McLaurin Williams, who was a Jackson native.
“Those of us with Southern mothers really are very lucky, I think,” Robin Williams said in a 2002 interview. “They’re just this weird combination of Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon.”
Williams’ mother, an actress, model and community volunteer, died in 2001 in Marin County, California, after raising her family in suburban Detroit, where Williams’ father, Robert Williams, was Ford Motor Co. vice president. Robert Williams died in 1987.