Robin Williams Dead at 63, Suicide Suspected
The Oscar-winning actor and comedian had been recently battling severe depression.
Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams has died at age 63, according to police in Marin County, Calif.
The full statement is below.
On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, 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, CA. 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 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63-year-old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.
An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s 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 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 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.
Williams' publicist Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter: "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."
His wife, Susan 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."
Williams, a four-time Oscar nominee, won a supporting actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting for his portrayal of a wise and morose psychologist. He most recently starred in CBS' comedy The Crazy Ones, which lasted only one season.
His next project is the feature film Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third film in the trilogy, which is set to hit theaters Dec. 19.
A dazzling comic force whose career extended from stand-up to a major acting career, Williams' comedic talents were so quick and brilliant that he often intimidated other comedians. His improv skills were meteoric and stupefying: Williams could wing off the cuff better than any of his peers. He burst through the stand-up world into television, captivating audiences with his portrayal of the endearing extraterrestrial Mork in the '70s series Mork and Mindy. He first limned the Mork role as a guest star on Happy Days.
He fractured movies audiences with his comedic and endearing performance in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987). He delighted audiences in the box-office hit The Birdcage (1996), playing a gay club owner who tries to convince his conservative, future in-laws of his heterosexual mainstream values. He tapped into a fey side and feminine side, as well: He delighted with his slapstick values as a hausfrau in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).
His rapid-fire delivery bespoke a warp-speed, associative intelligence.
“The mystery is in the motion: What miracle of the synapses got him from point A to point Z? At once a satirist, a comedian and a superb actor, this one-man repertory company dashes from mask to mask, voice to voice, like a man possessed by comic demons,” David Ansen wrote in Newsweek in 1986.
As a dramatic actor, he delivered stirring performances in such films as Dead Poets Society (1986), where he played an inspirational prep-school teacher who takes on the stuffy administration He also portrayed serious and complex characters in Awakenings (1990) and The Fisher King (1991). He could tap into a dark side, limning psychologically maladjusted characters in Insomnia and One-Hour Photo.
Williams also won Oscar nominations for Best Actor for his varied roles in Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King and Dead Poets Society. He could play morose, wise men, such as his turn as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting.
He showed his versatility in a wide range of films, including: The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Hook (1991), Patch Adams (1998), Flubber (1997), Toys (1992) and Jumanji (1995).
He won five Grammy Awards. He also won Emmy Awards for his TV specials Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin and ABC Presents a Royal Gala.
He vocalized many films: He did the vocal work for a bat in the animated movie Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest (1982) and he voiced the Genie in Aladdin (1992).
Given his child-like charm, he played boy-ish characters in Toys (1992), Jumanji (1995) and Jack (1996).
He did a number of movie cameos: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989), Dead Again (1991) and The Secret Agent (1996).
Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago on July 21, 1952. He was raised in affluence, but he was brought up, as he admits, by the maid. He developed comedy to please his mother. He mimicked Jonathan Winters. The family moved to San Francisco where he graduated from high school.
He studied political science at Claremont Men's College and entered College of Marin to study theater. He won a scholarship to student at The Julliard School in New York, where he spent three years under the tutelage of John Houseman and other. He returned to San Francisco before graduating. His goal was to become a dramatic actor but could not get a foot in the door. He turned to stand-up comedy, supporting himself by tending bar and working at an ice-cream parlor.
Williams moved to Los Angeles and enthralled at open-mike nights. He became a regular at such clubs as the Improv and the Comedy Store. He got spots on such TV shows as the Richard Pryor Show and America 2-Night.
His big break came when the producers of Happy Days decided to add an alien to the show. Williams won an audition. He guest-starred on a 1978 episode that brought in avalanches of fan mail. Based on the outpouring the network decided to create a spin-off series Mork & Mindy. The sitcom, featuring Williams as a good-natured alien from the planet Ork. The show afforded him great opportunity to improvise. It was hugely popular and generated such crazes as the Mork doll, with such Orkian words as “nanu nanu” for hello.
Williams's spellbinding delivery vaulted him from being a complete unknown to national fame. Self-admittedly, fame arrived too fast and he careened through a period of drug and alcohol abuse. His first movie role in Robert Altman's Popeye (1980) was disappointing. In his second role, he showed his charm as a young writer in The World According to Garp (1982).
He performed in the mid-1980s in a series of mediocre movies: The Survivors (1983), The Best of Times (1986) and Club Paradise. He excelled as a Russian saxophone player who defects in Bloomingdale's in Paul Mazursky's Moscow on the Hudson (1984).
He hit his movie stride with Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) where his comic versatility as an anti-authority G.I. Disc jockey played to his manic, improvisational strengths.
He executive produced and starred in Jakob the Liar (1999), a story of life in a Nazi-occupied Polish ghetto.
Like the best of comics, Williams, at heart, was utterly serious. He was a driving force in Comic Relief to benefit the homeless.
Williams was awarded the Chicago international Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
More recent film credits include: Deconstructing Harry (1997), Patch Adams (1988), Bicentennial Man (1999), Death to Smoochy (2002), The Final Cut (2004), House of D (2004), The Big White (2005), Everyone's Hero (2006), Man of the Year (2006), Night at the Museum (2006) and its sequel (2009), License to Wed (2007), August Rush (2007), World's Greatest Dad (2009) and Happy Feet (2006) and its sequel (2011).
- This story was first published by The Hollywood Reporter.