Robin Williams dies at 63 in apparent suicide
Around 11:55 a.m. Monday, sheriff’s officials said, a 911 call came in about a man unresponsive in his home in Tiburon. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dubbed “the funniest man alive” by Entertainment Weekly in 1997, Williams brought audiences hours of laughter, putting his imaginative spin on characters in film and television. He was lauded for his serious roles as well, winning a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire, the therapist who counsels Matt Damon’s math genius in “Good Will Hunting”(1997), and receiving nominations for “The Fisher King” (1991), “Dead Poets Society” (1989) and “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1987).
Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams became one of only two students accepted into John Houseman’s prestigious acting program at Julliard, the other being Christopher Reeve, who became a lifelong friend.
Williams gained fame as Mork, the bizarre, suspenders-sporting alien on the sitcom “Mork & Mindy,” a spinoff from “Happy Days.” Williams departed from the script so often that producers intentionally left blank moments on page for Williams to have space to indulge his ad-libbing genius.
BREAKING NEWS:Robin Williams dies aged 63 after ‘committing suicide’ in his California home following battles with depression
By MARK DUELL
Actor Robin Williams has died aged 63 from an apparent suicide, police in California said tonight.
His wife Susan Schneider confirmed the tragic news and spoke of her ‘profound grief’. ‘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.
‘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.’
A statement by the Marin County Sheriff’s Department in California said: ‘On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 am, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, California. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams.’
‘The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12pm.
An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office.
‘Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10pm on August 10, 2014.
‘Mr Williams was located this morning shortly before the 911 call was placed to Marin County Communications.
‘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.
‘A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.’
His wife Susan Schneider, issued a statement after the tragic news.
‘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.’
His family also issued this statement on the tragic passing of the Oscar winner.
‘Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late,’ Mara Buxbaum, press representative, said in a statement.
‘This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.’
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 was no less on fire in interviews.
During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.
‘There’s an Ice Age coming,’ he said. ‘But the good news is there’ll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that’s the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas.’
Like so many funnymen, he had serious ambitions, winning his Oscar for his portrayal of an empathetic therapist in ‘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.’
BREAKING NEWS: Actor Robin Williams Found Dead In His Home; Suicide Suspected
SO SAD: Actor Robin Williams Has Died at 63 – 8/11/2014
Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor, voice actor, and stand-up comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. His film career included such acclaimed films as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings(1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), as well as financial successes such as Popeye(1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He also appeared in the video to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Williams went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting (1997). He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards.
On August 11, 2014, Williams was found unconscious at his residence and was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner’s office suggested the cause of death to be suicide by asphyxiation, though it is still under investigation.
Inside The Actors´ Studio – Robin Williams
Inside the Actors Studio (2001) Best parts of the interview
Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Laura McLaurin (née Smith, September 24, 1922 – September 4, 2001), was a former model from New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams (September 10, 1906 – October 18, 1987), was a senior executive at Ford Motor Company in charge of the Midwest region. His maternal great-great-grandfather was Mississippi senator and governor Anselm J. McLaurin. Williams’ ancestry includes English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, German, and French. He was raised in the Episcopal Church (while his mother practiced Christian Science). He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he was a student at the Detroit Country Day School, and later moved to Woodacre, Marin County, California, where he attended the public Redwood High School. Williams studied at Claremont McKenna College (then called Claremont Men’s College). In-between Claremont and Juilliard, he attended the College of Marin for theatre. He has two half-brothers: Todd (who died August 14, 2007) and McLaurin.
Williams has described himself as a quiet child whose first imitation was of his grandmother to his mother. He did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high-school drama department.
In 1973, Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at the Juilliard School, and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year, the other being Christopher Reeve. In his dialects class, Williams had no trouble mastering all dialects quickly. Williams left Juilliard in 1976.
After appearing in the cast of the short-lived The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, Williams was cast by Garry Marshall as the alien Mork in the hit TV series Happy Days after impressing the producer with his quirky sense of humor when he sat on his head when asked to take a seat for the audition. As Mork, Williams improvised much of his dialogue and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice. Mork’s appearance was so popular with viewers that it led to a spin-off hit television sitcom, Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982; the show was written to accommodate Williams’ improvisations. Although he played the same character as in his appearance in Happy Days, the show was set in the present day, in Boulder, Colorado, instead of the late 1950s in Milwaukee. Mork was an extremely popular character, featured on posters, coloring books, lunchboxes, and other merchandise.
Starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Williams began to reach a wider audience with his standup comedy, including three HBO comedy specials, Off The Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1982), and Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986). Also in 1986, Williams co-hosted the 58th Academy Awards.
His stand-up work has been a consistent thread through his career, as is seen by the success of his one-man show (and subsequent DVD) Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002). He was voted 13th on Comedy Central‘s list “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” in 2004.
Williams, along with Billy Crystal, appeared in a cameo together at the beginning of an episode of the third season of Friends. Both Williams and Crystal’s parts were not originally in the script. They were apparently in the building where the show was shooting and were asked to improvise their lines. Williams appeared on an episode of the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Season 3, Episode 9: November 16, 2000). During a game of “Scenes from a Hat”, the scene “What Robin Williams is thinking right now” was drawn, and Williams stated “I have a career. What the hell am I doing here?” On December 4, 2010, he appeared with Robert De Niro on Saturday Night Live in the sketch What Up with That. In 2012, he guest starred as himself in two FX series, Louie and Wilfred
In February 2013, the CBS network announced it had picked up a pilot episode for a David E. Kelley comedy called The Crazy Ones that stars Williams. The series was officially picked up on May 10, 2013. Williams plays Simon Roberts, a father who works with his daughter (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) in an advertising office. The series premiered in the Thursday 9/8c timeslot on September 26, 2013.
Most of Williams’ acting career was in film, although he gave some performances on stage as well (notably as Estragon in a production of Waiting for Godotwith Steve Martin). His first film was the 1977 comedy Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses? His performance in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) resulted in Williams being nominated for an Academy Award. Many of his roles have been comedies tinged with pathos.
His role as the Genie in the animated film Aladdin (1992) was instrumental in establishing the importance of star power in voice actor casting. Williams used his voice talents again in Fern Gully, as the holographic Dr. Know in the 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, in the 2005 animated film Robots, the 2006 Academy Award-winning Happy Feet, and an uncredited vocal performance in the film Everyone’s Hero. He was also the voice of The Timekeeper, a former attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort about a time-traveling robot who encounters Jules Verne and brings him to the future.
Williams’ roles in dramatic films garnered him an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting, as well as two previous Academy Award nominations: for playing an English teacher in Dead Poets Society(1989), and for playing a troubled homeless man in The Fisher King (1991). That same year he played an adult Peter Panin the movie Hook. Other acclaimed dramatic films include Awakenings (1990) and What Dreams May Come (1998). In the 2002 film Insomnia, Williams portrayed a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska. Also in 2002, in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, Williams played an emotionally disturbed photo development technician who becomes obsessed with a family for whom he has developed pictures for a long time.
In 2006, Williams starred in The Night Listener, a thriller about a radio show host who realizes that a child with whom he has developed a friendship with may or may not exist; that year, he starred in five movies, including Man of the Year, was the Surprise Guest at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired on January 30, 2006.
Williams is known for his improvisational skills and impersonations, and his performances frequently involve impromptu humor designed and delivered in rapid-fire succession while on stage. According to the Aladdin DVD commentary, most of his dialogue as the Genie was improvised.
At one point, he was in the running to play the Riddler in Batman Forever until director Tim Burton dropped the project. Earlier, Williams had been a strong contender to play the Joker in Batman. He had expressed interest in assuming the role in The Dark Knight, the sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins, although the part of the Joker was played by Heath Ledger, who went on to win, posthumously, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He was portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos in the made-for-TV biopic Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy (2005), documenting the actor’s arrival in Hollywood as a struggling comedian.
Williams has done a number of stand-up comedy tours since the early 1970s. Some of his most notable tours include An Evening With Robin Williams (1982), Robin Williams: At The Met (1986) and Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway (2002). The latter broke many long-held records for a comedy show. In some cases, tickets were sold out within thirty minutes of going on sale.
After a six-year break, in August 2008 Williams announced a brand new 26-city tour titled “Weapons of Self Destruction”. He was quoted as saying that this was his last chance to make cracks at the expense of the current Bush Administration, but by the time the show was staged only a few minutes covered that subject. The tour started at the end of September 2009, finishing in New York on December 3, and was the subject of an HBO special on December 8, 2009.
In theatre, Williams has headed his own one-man show, Robin Williams: Live on Broadway, that played at The Broadway Theatrein July 2002. He made his Broadway acting debut in Rajiv Joseph‘s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 31, 2011. He previously appeared opposite Steve Martin at Lincoln Center in an Off-Broadway production of Waiting for Godot.
Marriages and children
Robin Williams’ first marriage was to Valerie Velardi on June 4, 1978. They have one child, Zachary Pym (Zak) (born April 11, 1983). During Williams’ first marriage, he was involved in an extramarital relationship with Michelle Tish Carter, a cocktail waitress whom he met in 1984. She sued him in 1986, claiming that he did not tell her he was infected with the herpes simplex virus before he embarked on a sexual relationship with her in the mid-1980s, during which, she said, he transmitted the virus to her. The case was settled out of court. Williams and Velardi divorced in 1988.
On April 30, 1989, he married Marsha Garces, his son’s nanny, who was already several months pregnant with his child. They have two children, Zelda Rae (born July 31, 1989) and Cody Alan (born November 25, 1991). However, in March 2008, Garces filed for divorce from Williams, citing irreconcilable differences.
Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, on October 23, 2011, in St. Helena, California. Their residence was Williams’ house in Sea Cliff, a neighborhood in San Francisco, California.
Family and friends
While studying at Juilliard, Williams befriended Christopher Reeve. They had several classes together in which they were the only students, and they remained good friends for the rest of Reeve’s life. Williams visited Reeve after the horse riding accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, and cheered him up by pretending to be an eccentric Russian doctor (similar to his role in Nine Months). Williams claimed that he was there to perform a colonoscopy. Reeve stated that he laughed for the first time since the accident and knew that life was going to be okay.
On August 14, 2007, Williams’ elder brother, Robert Todd Williams, died of complications from heart surgery performed a month earlier.
Addiction and health problems
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams had an addiction to cocaine. Williams was a close friend of and frequent partier alongside John Belushi. He said 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. The grand jury helped too.”
On August 9, 2006, Williams checked himself in to a substance-abuse rehabilitation center (located in Newberg, Oregon), later admitting that he was an alcoholic. His publicist delivered the announcement:
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.
Williams was hospitalized in March 2009 due to heart problems. He postponed his one-man tour in order to undergo surgery to replace his aortic valve. The surgery was successfully completed on March 13, 2009, at the Cleveland Clinic. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Williams discussed the fact that Propofol had been used on him during his operation, the same drug which had been involved in the death of Michael Jackson. Williams commented that Jackson had been taking the drug to sleep, which he compared to “doing chemotherapy because you’re tired of shaving your head”. This comment caused much hilarity among the audience and other guests, but Williams emphasised the fact that Propofol is a “devastatingly powerful drug” that should be only administered in hospital, whereas Jackson had been using it at home.
Williams was a member of the Episcopal Church. He described his denomination in a comedy routine as “Catholic Lite—same rituals, half the guilt.”
Williams was an avid enthusiast of video games, even naming two of his children after game characters. He named his daughter afterPrincess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda action-adventure game series. They both have even been featured in an ad for the Nintendo 3DS remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. On this note, his son may have been named after Cody from thebeat ‘em up game Final Fight. He also enjoys pen-and-paper role-playing games and online video games, recently playing Warcraft 3, Day of Defeat, Half-Life, and the first-person shooter Battlefield 2 as a sniper. He was also previously a fan of the Wizardry series of role-playing video games.
On January 6, 2006, he performed live at Consumer Electronics Show during Google’s keynote. In the 2006 E3, on the invitation of Will Wright, he demonstrated the creature editor of Spore while simultaneously commenting on the creature’s look: “This will actually make a platypus look good.” He also complimented the game’s versatility, comparing it to Populous and Black & White. Later that year, he was one of several celebrities to participate in the Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day.
A fan of professional road cycling, he was a regular on the US Postal and Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team bus and hotels during the years Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour de France. He owned over 50 bicycles.
In 2010, Williams announced that he would love to play The Riddler in the next installment to the Batman films by director Christopher Nolan, though Nolan has stated that The Riddler would not be featured in the film.
Williams and his former wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic organization to raise money for many different charities. Williams devotes much of his energy to charity work, including the Comic Relief fundraising efforts (the program is hosted by himself, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg). In December 1999, he sang in French on the BBC-inspired music video of international celebrities doing a cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “It’s Only Rock & Roll” for the charity Children’s Promise.
In response to the 2010 Canterbury Earthquake, Williams donated all proceeds of his “Weapons of Self Destruction” Christchurch performance to helping rebuild the New Zealand city. Half the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross and half to the mayoral building fund with the words “I hope this donation will go some way to helping the extensive rebuilding effort in the city.” Williams has performed with the USO for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Williams also actively supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for several years.
Williams was found unconscious in his home in unincorporated Tiburon, California, at around 12 noon on August 11, 2014. The Marin County Coroner Division suspects the death to be suicide by asphyxia, pending investigation. According to his publicist, Williams was “battling severe depression” in the time before his death, though his publicist would not confirm the reports that the death was suicide.
Williams’ wife said, “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.”
Suicide is never a solution to any life problem. Suicide is a selfish act that crushes loved ones left behind. Mr. Williams had a wife, and a daughter that just celebrated her 25th year on this earth. They deserve better. I sincerely hope he is at peace from this point forward.
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