12. Aug, 2014

Robin Williams Dead: Beloved Actor Dies In Apparent Suicide

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, who dazzled in such wide-ranging dramatic and comedic roles as alien, nanny, therapist and cartoon genie during a four-decades long career, was found dead in his northern California home in a suspected suicide Monday. He was 63.

The Marin County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that Williams was found unconscious and not breathing in his home around noon. The statement said the investigation into Williams' death is ongoing, but the coroner "suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia."

A representative for Williams said in a statement the actor had been battling "severe depression of late."

"This is a tragic and sudden loss," Mara Buxbaum said. "The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Williams' wife Susan Schneider said in a statement she is devastated and asked for privacy.

“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings," she said. "I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Williams publicly struggled with addiction during his career and most recently went to rehab in June to “fine tune” his sobriety, his rep said at the time.

The rehab stint would have gone unnoticed, except that the comedian opted to pose with a fan for a photo at a Dairy Queen near the facility, and the picture eventually went viral. 

Williams had spoken openly about his cocaine addiction, which plagued him during the '70s and '80s. Later, in 2006, he said he was an alcoholic and went to rehab to get his drinking under control. 

From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show "Mork and Mindy," through his standup act and such films as "Good Morning, Vietnam," the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast, manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.

He was a riot in drag in "Mrs. Doubtfire," or as a cartoon genie in "Aladdin." He won his Academy Award in a rare, but equally intense dramatic role, as a teacher in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting."

He also played for tears in "Awakenings," "Dead Poets Society" and "What Dreams May Come," something that led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to once say he dreaded seeing the actor's "Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes."

Williams also won three Golden Globes, for "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King."

His other film credits included Robert Altman's "Popeye" (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky's "Moscow on the Hudson," Steven Spielberg's "Hook" and Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." On stage, Williams joined fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of "Waiting for Godot."

Fellow stars were quick to express their grief upon hearing about Williams’ death.

Actor and producer Garry Marshall remembered his friend, stating, "Robin was hands-down a comedy genius and one of the most talented performers I have ever worked with in television or film. To lose him so young at the age of 63 is just a tragedy. I will forever be in awe of his timing, his talent and his pure and golden creativity.  He could make everybody happy, but himself. He was my friend and it is rare that you ever have a friend that is also a genius."