The Oscar-winner had endured a long struggle with drug and alcohol abuse
Robin Williams apparently committed suicide by hanging, according to a preliminary coroner’s report released today. Marin County sheriff’s spokesman Lt Keith Boyd told reporters that the actor and comedian, who was 63, had hanged himself in his bedroom at his home in Tiburon, in northern California. Williams’s personal assistant discovered his body shortly before midday on Monday.
The Oscar-winner was last seen alive by his wife, Susan Schneider, at home late on Sunday evening. Believing he was still asleep, Schneider left the house at around 10.30am on Monday. When Williams’s personal assistant arrived just over an hour later, police said, she became worried when he failed to answer the door. She gained entry, only to find him dead.
Schneider said in a statement, “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.” Asking the press and public to respect the family’s privacy, she added: “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.”
President Barack Obama joined Hollywood in mourning the beloved star, who first achieved fame as eccentric extra-terrestrial Mork in the popular late-70s sitcom, Mork and Mindy. Mr Obama said of Williams, “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.”
A born comedian but also a gifted dramatic actor, Williams was nominated for an Academy Award three times – for his performances in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991) – before he finally won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting (1997). As news of his death broke, fans flocked to the bench in Boston on which his character, widowed therapist Sean Maguire, once imparted wisdom to Will (Matt Damon), where they left flowers and famous Williams quotes written in chalk.
Ben Affleck, who co-wrote and co-starred in Good Will Hunting with Damon, said he was “heartbroken” by the news of Williams’s death. “Thanks chief,” wrote Affleck in a Facebook post, “for your friendship and for what you gave the world. Robin had a ton of love in him. He personally did so much for so many people. He made Matt and my dreams come true. What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything.”
Williams was married three times and had three children. He and Schneider, a graphic designer, wed in October 2011. He also left behind four complete performances in films yet to be released, including a reprise of his role as President Teddy Roosevelt in the third instalment of the Night at the Museum comedies.
The actor’s death was attributed to asphyxia caused by hanging, though the investigation is ongoing, including a toxicology report which is expected to take up to six weeks. Williams’s long struggle with drug and alcohol abuse was well documented. He quit his cocaine habit and stopped drinking when his first child, son Zak, was born in 1983. More than two decades later, in 2006, he checked himself into rehab after relapsing into alcoholism. He also visited a 12-step rehab programme earlier this summer, though he reportedly had not relapsed. His publicist said on Monday that he had been suffering from a “severe depression” in the months before his death.