Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Robin Williams dies: Actor-comedian died in apparent suicide says coroner

Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California.
Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California.
Robin Williams starred in Mrs Doubtfire, playing a soon-to-be-divorced father who cross-dresses as a nanny to spend more time with his children
Inspiring figure: Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society

Robin Williams was found dead on Monday at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63.

Marin County Sheriff's Office said it suspects the death was a suicide due to asphyxia, but the cause of death is still under investigation.

In a statement, Marin County Sheriff's Office said: "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."

It added that an investigation into the "cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently under way".

A forensic examination is expected to take place today, with toxicology tests to take place later.

Police were called to Williams' home in the town of Tiburon at around 11.55am yesterday after receiving a call that a man was unconscious and not breathing.

Emergency services, including police and firefighters, arrived on the scene five minutes later, but the actor was pronounced dead at 12.02pm, the sheriff's office said.

Oscar-winning performer and comic genius with equal ability to wring tears from his audience 

It added that Williams was last seen alive at his home, where he lived with his wife Susan Schneider, at around 10pm on Sunday.

Mara Buxbaum, Williams' press representative, said: "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late.

Robin Williams died at the age of 63
Robin Williams died at the age of 63
Na-Nu Na-Nu: Robin Williams as Mork and co-star Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnel
Robin Williams was found dead at his home in California
File photo dated 15/5/1997 of Robin Williams, Annabella Sciora and Cuba Gooding Jr publicise their new film "What Dreams May Come", at the 50th Cannes Film Festival.
Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (1989)
Robin Williams at Andre Agassi's Grand Slam for Children at MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 2, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bob Brye/Las Vegas News Bureau via Getty Images)
Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (1997)
Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire
Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Robin Williams
Robin Williams starred in the original Mrs Doubtfire movie
Robin Williams in Jumanji (1995)
Actor Robin Williams appears onstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on April 27, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Robin Williams jokes around during Google co-founder Larry Page's keynote address at the International Consumer Electronics Show January 6, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Zelda Williams and Robin Williams backstage during the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for PCA)
Sarah Michelle Gellar said that she wanted co-star Robin Williams to adopt her
Actor Robin Williams presents the Pioneer Award onstage during the 6th annual "TV Land Awards" held at Barker Hangar on June 8, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TV Land)
Robin Williams performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 25, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bob Brye/Las Vegas News Bureau via Getty Images)
Robin Williams speaks during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA)
Actor Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of Magnolia Pictures' "World's Greatest Dad" at The Landmark Theater on August 13, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Robin Williams accepts the Favorite Scene Stealing Guest Star award during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA)
Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for PCA)
Actor Robin Williams and Susan Schneider arrive at the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' "Old Dogs" held at the El Capitan Theatre on November 9, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for PCA)
Actor Robin Williams attends the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Happy Feet Two" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Robin Williams joked about undergoing heart surgery
Robin Williams said he enjoyed working with the cast of Happy Feet Two in Australia
Robin Williams says Happy Feet 2 is as good as, if not better than, the original
Susan Schneider and comedian Robin Williams attend The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Comedian Robin Williams accepts an award onstage at The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Robin Williams attends CBS 2013 Upfront Presentation at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 15, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
Robin Williams in Boulevard (Courtesy Tribeca Film Festival)
Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choicre Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for PCA)

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

In a statement Ms Schneider said: "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."

Stars spoke of their shock at Williams' death.

Steve Martin, who appeared alongside Williams in a 1988 theatre production of Waiting for Godot, said: "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul."

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: "I can't believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I'm heartbroken."

Police are expected to release more information about his death at a press conference scheduled for 7pm British time today.

 

The thrice-married father-of-three was known to millions for his performances in films that ranged from the out-and-out manic comedy of Mrs Doubtfire, to more thought-provoking fare like Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King. 

In many films, like Good Morning Vietnam, Williams attracted widespread praise by successfully combining his gift for comedy with an exploration of more serious underlying themes.

Nominated for the best actor Oscar three times, Williams, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, in which he played the therapist to Matt Damon’s working class maths genius.

Born in Chicago, he started off in stand-up comedy before first achieving widespread fame in the TV sitcom Mork and Mindy.  The show ran from 1978 to 1982 and Williams was frequently allowed to indulge his talent for improvised comedy while playing Mork, an alien living on Earth.

As Mork and Mindy became increasingly popular, Williams started to reach an even wider audience with a series of televised stand-up comedy shows.

During the late Seventies and early Eighties, however, Williams developed an addiction to cocaine.

Williams was a close friend of the comedian John Belushi who died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1982.  Williams had enjoyed wild parties with Belushi and subsequently admitted that the death of his friend and the birth of his son prompted him to quit drugs: "Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level.”

On August 9, 2006, however, Williams checked himself into a rehab centre, later admitting he was an alcoholic.  His publicist announced: “After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family.”

Three years later, in March 2009 Williams was hospitalised by heart problems, and had to undergo surgery to surgery to replace his aortic valve.

A keen charity fundraiser Williams had his second wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation, with his ex-wife Marsha, to raise money for a wide variety of charities.

He leaves three children and a widow, Susan, his third wife, whom he married in 2011.

  • If you need someone to listen call the Samaritans in the UK for confidential support on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details

 



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