Robin Williams Dead at 63 in Possible Suicide
Actor and comedian Robin Williams died Monday at his home in Tiburon, Calif. According to a statement from the Marin County Sheriff's department, the death is believed to be a suicide.
A 911 call was placed at 11:55 a.m. Monday morning claiming a man had been found inside Williams' home unconscious and not breathing. Emergency responders identified the man as Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m.
“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
The sheriff’s department said via its website that it is planning to hold a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time to discuss the investigation into Williams’ death.
Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement issued through Williams’ publicist, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. 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 was 63 years old. He recently made a return to full-time series television in the CBS comedy The Crazy Ones, which ran for a full season beginning last fall, but was not renewed for 2014-15. It was his first starring role in a television series since Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. He was set to appear in several forthcoming film projects, including Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Mrs. Doubtfire 2.
Williams battled alcohol and drug addiction throughout his life. He famously gave up cocaine and alcohol after the death of his friend John Belushi in 1982. In 2006, he checked himself into rehab for alcoholism after relapsing.
“It’s the same voice thought that … you're standing at a precipice and you look down, there's a voice and it's a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump,’” Williams told Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer in an interview following his 2006 rehab stint. He added, “The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that's not the possibility.”
In July, Williams was reported to have voluntarily checked into a renewal center, a facility where addicts who have not relapsed go for periods of time to help them maintain their sobriety.
Williams was nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards, winning twice for outstanding performance in a variety or music program — in 1987 for Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin and in 1988 for ABC Presents: A Royal Gala. His first nomination came in 1979, a best lead-actor in a comedy series nod for his work on Mork & Mindy. His most recent nomination came in 2010 for best variety, music or comedy special for his HBO stand-up comedy special Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction.
He won the Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1998 for Good Will Hunting. He was nominated three times for the best lead-actor Oscar — in 1988 for Good Morning, Vietnam, in 1990 for Dead Poet’s Society and in 1992 for The Fisher King.
Williams was born in Chicago in 1951. He attended the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied acting alongside the late Christopher Reeve. His early television appearances included The Richard Pryor Show and Laugh-In. He was cast to play the alien Mork in a 1978 episode of Happy Days — a role that led to the spin-off Mork & Mindy. That same year his first stand-up special Robin Williams: Off the Wall premiered on HBO.
In 1980, Williams made his first foray into film, starring as the title character in Robert Altman’s Popeye, an adaptation of classic comic strip and animated cartoon. His career highlights included the films The World According to Garp, Awakenings, Mrs. Doubtfire and the animated Aladdin, in which he voiced the character of the genie.
Reaction from the Hollywood creative community to Williams’ death poured in via Twitter. Actor and comedian Steve Martin, a contemporary of Williams, tweeted, “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
Williams and Schneider were married in 2011. It was Williams’ third marriage. He is survived by his son Zachary, from his first marriage with Valerie Velardi, and his daughter Zelda and son Cody, from his second marriage with Marsha Garces.
"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between," said President Barack Obama in a statement. "But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."
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