RIP Oliver Sacks, Neurologist Played By Robin Williams In ‘Awakenings,’ Dies At 82

News & Culture Writer
08.30.15 2 Comments
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The world-renowned neurologist and author of best-selling popular science books like Awakenings, which was adapted into the 1990 movie of the same name, died at home in New York City on Sunday. He was 82, and as The New York Times reports, the cause of death was cancer — a subject Sacks wrote about in February.

An Oxford-trained medical doctor, Sacks did his residency on the west coast before moving to New York in 1965 for a fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Soon after, he began writing about his patients, many of whom suffered rare, debilitating neurological disorders.

Awakenings was Sacks’s second book, but when his literary career as a science writer exploded in the ’80s with The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, the former’s film rights were optioned. Robert De Niro played Leonard Lowe, a catatonic patient, and Robin Williams played Dr. Malcolm Sayer, the hospital’s newest staff member. Williams was originally playing Sacks, who consulted on the film, but the character’s name was later changed. Even so, the two became lifelong friends.

Aside from his neurological studies and writings, Sacks was also an accomplished pianist. He even wrote a book on music, Musicophilia, and argued that humanity’s general love of the art form was in part evolutionary in its nature — even akin to language development.

Still, perhaps the greatest bit of trivia from Sacks’s long life as a polymath was his early penchant for motorcycles and going for long rides to the Grand Canyon with the Hells Angels. No really, he did. Sacks wrote about it in his 2015 memoir On the Move: A Life, and brought the culture of riding with him when he moved to New York.

(Via The New York Times)

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