In 1974, Daniel Sorine was a young photographer taking pictures of New York and the many nuances of the city. He was, he says, “short of funds, and not able to afford a studio or adventurous treks around the globe in search of the perfect image” – something that made him turn to and seek solace and inspiration in the streets of New York. Central Park on weekdays, especially, was a source of multiple pictures. According to Sorine, the park had become “a photographer’s paradise thanks to an unlimited amount of live performers showcasing their various talents.” For a budding photographer, Central Park provided all the raw materials for that perfect picture.
It was on one such weekend photographing, or attempting to photograph artists that Sorine came across two mimes practicing their art. Sorine approached them, attracted by their “unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity” and a wish to photograph them. The results were almost half a dozen stunning pictures of the two visibly articulate and talented mimes busy practicing an art that is now thought of as lost.
However, the art as well as the artists were revived when, 35 years later, Sorine took the pictures and their negatives out of one of his suitcases, and what was earlier just the photograph of two mimes in Central Park was translated into something a lot more: Sorine had just discovered that the two mimes he had photographed were Todd Oppenheimer and his partner – a man by the name of Robin Williams.
The beloved actor who passed away last year, was then 23-years-old, and not yet thrust into stardom. The duo effortlessly and gladly performed for the public, and happily agreed to being photographed: “When I approached them with my Pentax Spotmatic,” says Sorine, “they allowed me to invite them into my camera instead of me having to chase after them.”
Sorine says that although he is unsure whether Williams ever saw the pictures, he got in touch with Todd Oppenheimer, who was “thrilled” to see the pictures.
Williams, best known for his work in films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, died on August 11, 2014, at the age of 63.