Q: In an early comedy routine, Robin Williams says he went to Juilliard. Is that true or was it just part of his joke?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Famously unhinged standup comedian Robin Williams has hidden depths -- he shows them occasionally in films such as "Insomnia" (2002) and "Dead Poets Society" (1989). But well before both of those, he explored those depths at The Juilliard School.

Williams attended New York's prestigious dramatic academy from 1973 to 1976. However, though opinions differ as to why, he didn't graduate.

Author Andrea Olmstead, in her book "Juilliard: A History," claimed that he was kicked out after his third year, though she included the dismissal in a list of "blunders that would eventually embarrass the school."

Other sources claim he dropped out. He's been somewhat cagey about it in interviews, saying in a 2001 discussion on "Inside the Actors Studio" that he has "no degrees from any colleges yet." Apart, that is, from an honorary one he received from Juilliard in 1991 (he made a characteristically crude joke about it being nice to look at, but that it doesn't do anything).

If the idea of the famed funnyman studying at such an august institution seems odd, wrap your head around this: prior to going to Juilliard, he studied political science at Claremont Men's College. He would have stuck with it, too, he said, had he not discovered the school's amateur dramatic program and fallen in love with performance.

Though he has never strayed far from comedy, he seems more willing to indulge his dramatic side in recent years.

He has frequently tried to walk a line between drama and comedy -- 1990's "Awakenings" and 1998's "Patch Adams" come to mind -- but he has more recently gone to pure drama, and even darker films such as the 2002 thrillers "One Hour Photo" and "Insomnia."

He appeared on Broadway in 2011 in a play about the Iraq war, though even that gave him a few funny lines, he says.

Anyone worried by all this drama talk that Williams is through making people laugh can rest assured that's not the case -- the proof is in the title of the picture he's currently filming, "A Friggin' Christmas Miracle," due out later this year.


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