Belfast Telegraph

'Alien' touched so many human lives

By Staff Reporter

Robin Williams, the Oscar-winning actor and comedian, who died this week in an apparent suicide, was suffering from Parkinson's disease.

His third wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement that he was not ready to share his illness publicly.

Williams (63), who won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting, had fought well-publicised battles with alcohol and drugs, but was sober at the time of his death, although he was suffering from anxiety and depression, Schneider said.

The star was worried that the progressive neurological disorder would have an impact on his film and TV work – the income from which was helping to support his family.

"Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly," Schneider said.

"It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."

The actor Michael J Fox, who has long had the disease and is known for his efforts to fund research into it, tweeted that he was shocked to learn Williams had early symptoms.

"Stunned to learn Robin had PD [Parkinson's disease]. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn [foundation] predated his diagnosis," he wrote. "A true friend. I wish him peace."

Williams made his name as a stand-up comedian and as the star of the popular sitcom Mork and Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982.

He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his performances in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991), finally winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in 1997's Good Will Hunting.

He apparently killed himself by hanging at his home in Tiburon, northern California on Tuesday, according to a preliminary coroner's report released by the Marin County Sheriff's Department.

President Barack Obama joined Hollywood in mourning the star. He said: "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."

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