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Suicide suspected; comedian battled with depression Actor Robin Williams dead at 63

 TIBURON, Calif, Aug 12, (Agencies): Robin Williams, the versatile actor whose madcap comic style made him one of television and film’s biggest stars, was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California. He was 63. The comedian’s appeal stretched across generations and genres, from family fare as the voice of Disney’s blue Genie in “Aladdin” to his portrayal of a fatherly therapist in the 1997 drama “Good Will Hunting,” for which he earned his sole Oscar. But many remembered the master of impressions on Monday for his tender portrayal in “Mrs Doubtfire”, when he played the part of a British nanny whose identity he assumed as a divorced father to be with his children.

Williams had been recently suffering from severe depression, his publicist Mara Buxbaum said in a statement, and the actor had repeatedly talked about his past struggles with alcohol. “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,” Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement.

Investigation
The Marin County Sheriff’s coroner’s division said it suspected Williams committed suicide by asphyxia, but the cause of death is still under investigation and an autopsy will be conducted Tuesday. The Sheriff’s office said it received an emergency call about noon local time on Monday, saying Williams was unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco. Outside the family home in a neighborhood of low-slung houses with water views, people left flowers and talked about the man who rode his bike around and had a smile and a wave for children on the street.
 
“It wasn’t like having a celebrity,” said Sonja Conti, who said the actor would often ask about her dog and nicknamed him “Dude.” “He was just a normal, nice guy. People left him alone.” Social media was alight with appreciation for Williams, who introduced his boyish exuberance and outlandish vaudeville-esque style to audiences as a quirky extraterrestrial in the late 1970s TV comedy “Mork & Mindy.”
Williams, who was most recently in the CBS television comedy “The Crazy Ones” until it was canceled after one season in May, had entered a rehabilitation center this summer to help him maintain sobriety.
His representatives at the time said Williams was not using drugs or alcohol but was there to “fine-tune” his sobriety after a demanding work schedule.
The death of Williams shook Hollywood, and colleagues mourned the loss of what many called a big-hearted man and one of the most inventive comedians of his time.
Williams, who was born in Chicago in 1951 and grew up in suburban Detroit earned four Academy Award nominations, the first for his portrayal of US Army radio host Adrian Cronauer during the Vietnam War in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
He earned nominations for the 1990 coming-of-age prep school drama “Dead Poets Society” and 1991’s “The Fisher King.”
Williams married three times, most recently in 2011 to Schneider. He has three children.
In a 2009, the actor told Reuters that his children often referenced his own struggles with alcohol when he would confront them about their own misbehavior.
“They went, ‘And you had a three-year drunken relapse.’ Ah, thank you for bringing that back, my little happy creatures,” Williams quipped.
His death also deeply affected his local artists’ community, far from the hype of Hollywood.
“He embodied what it meant to be humble,” said Lucy Mercer, executive artistic director at Throckmorton Theatre, a small venue near Williams’ home, where the actor was known to try out new material.
“He doused us in his love and positive glow and never asked for anything in return.”
Williams will appear in upcoming film “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” playing the statue of Teddy Roosevelt who comes to life at night, and holiday comedy “Merry Friggin’ Christmas.” He was also attached to a sequel to 1993 hit “Mrs Doubtfire.”
In his final posting on Twitter on July 31, Williams had wished his daughter Zelda a happy 25th birthday. Late on Monday, Zelda wrote on Twitter: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”
Career
After beginning his career as a stand-up comic, Williams rose to fame in the iconic US television sitcom “Mork & Mindy”, channelling his anarchic, high-energy style to his role as an extra-terrestrial struggling to fit in on Earth.
He later reeled off a string of big-screen hits throughout the 1980s and 1990s in roles, which often showcased his phenomenal fast-talking, improvisational skills.
Those abilities were showcased in 1987’s “Good Morning, Vietnam”, where his performance as motormouth military disc jockey Adrian Cronauer earned him the first of four career Oscar nominations.
But while that role could have been tailored for Williams’ comic skills, he also earned critical plaudits in weightier dramas.
He added more Oscar nominations for his performance as the inspirational English literature teacher John Keating in 1989’s “Dead Poets Society” and for playing a mentally ill homeless man mourning the loss of his wife in 1991’s “The Fisher King.”
Here are some of his most notable roles and awards:
“Dead Poets Society” (1989, as John Keating)
Williams was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for his performance as an inspirational New England prep-school teacher with a love for poetry. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for best picture and won for best screenplay writing.
“Mrs Doubtfire” (1993, as Mrs Doubtfire)
In one of his most iconic roles, Williams transformed into the elderly Mrs Euphegenia Doubtfire, earning a Golden Globe, an American Comedy Award, Kids’ Choice Award and an MTV Movie Award. Williams had been cast to star in a sequel to the mega ‘90s hit.
“Good Morning Vietnam” (1987, Adrian Cronauer)
Williams’ performance as a DJ for the US Armed Services in Vietnam, a role that was carried by the actor’s personality, saw him nominated for an Academy Award and win a Golden Globe.
“Patch Adams” (1998, as Patch Adams)
For his role playing the title role — a medical student who decides the best medicine for his patients is humor — Williams was nominated for a Golden Globe and American Comedy Award.
“The Fisher King” (1991, as Parry)
The comedy-drama starring Williams as a homeless man traumatised by the loss of his wife and beset with Arthurian hallucinations, saw the comedian nominated for an Academy Award and win a Golden Globe.
“Good Will Hunting” (1997, as Sean Maguire)
In his role as psychologist to a genius mathematician janitor played by Matt Damon, Williams won his sole Oscar — for best actor in a supporting role. The movie also won Damon and Ben Affleck an Oscar for best screenplay writing.
“Aladdin” (1992, as the voice of Genie)
Endearing himself to children worldwide, Williams was the voice behind zany Genie in the Disney animated classic, singing the movie’s iconic “Friend Like Me.” The cartoon won an Oscar for best original song and best original score, while Williams won a special Golden Globe award for his vocal work.
“Jumanji” (1995, as Alan Parrish)
Starring in a kids’ romp about a board game that comes to life — and the man who had been trapped inside it for years — Williams once again endeared himself to a generation of children, starring alongside a young and relatively unknown Kirsten Dunst.
“Mork & Mindy” (1978-1982, as Mork from Ork)
In the first role catapult him into the national spotlight, Williams starred as an outrageous space alien who landed on Earth and lived alongside a human woman played by Pam Dawber. The sitcom earned him a Golden Globe for best TV actor in 1979 and an Emmy nomination the same year. The sitcom was a spinoff from the series “Happy Days.”
“The Crazy Ones” (2013-2014, as Simon Roberts)
In one of his most recent roles, Williams plays an eccentric boss at an ad firm with his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Stage
He finally landed a coveted Oscar for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” which earned him a best supporting actor statuette, and helped launch the Hollywood careers of co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
News of Williams’ death quickly supplanted the conflict in Iraq as the top item on evening news bulletins as Americans reacted with shock.
On a stage, in front of the lights, is where Williams shined most brightly. The riffs, tangents and impersonations came rushing at the audience, a seemingly endless torrent. It looked like onstage cocaine, a drug he abused in real life and, of course, made part of his comedy.
On a television talk show, hosts knew Williams barely needed to be wound up. Sometimes, he needed only an audience of one: Williams visited Christopher Reeve a week after the actor’s horseback riding accident, dressed in scrubs with a surgical mask and speaking in a Russian accent.
The roles became less prominent as he aged and a different generation took the spotlight. Last year. CBS cast him as the star of a sitcom, “The Crazy Ones,” in which Williams played the colorful elder statesman at a New York ad agency. The network had high hopes for the comedy, which also starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, but they quickly faded and the show was cancelled after one season.
That didn’t make Williams unique — Michael J. Fox also failed in a recent return to television — but it was an indication that Williams was no longer a sure ticket to success.
Like many comedians, Williams often seemed driven by demons. He had a complicated personal life, suffered from depression and was treated for substance abuse, most recently earlier this summer. He did a few lines of cocaine with John Belushi on the last night of that comic’s life.
 
A darkness seeped in during an interview with comedian Marc Maron in 2010, where Williams seemingly dismissed what would be a career highlight for many actors. “People say you’re an Academy Award winner,” he said. “The Academy Award lasted about a week and then one week later, people went, ‘Hey Mork!’” Stand-up comedy was where Williams got the most satisfaction. “You get the feedback,” Williams said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. “There’s an energy. It’s live theater. That’s why I think actors like that. You know, musicians need it, comedians definitely need it. It doesn’t matter what size and what club, whether it’s 30 people in the club or 2,000 in a hall or a theater. It’s live, it’s symbiotic, you need it.”
 
Neighbors
In Robin Williams’ northern California neighborhood, far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, a stunned and saddened community remembered a low-key man who loved bike riding and never got too famous for a playful wave or banter. “Everyone loved him, but nobody bothered him. He would live unrecognized and just keep to himself,” said Johanna Denning, a neighbor who often saw Williams riding his bike amid low-slung houses with views of the San Francisco Bay.
 
Many on Monday expressed surprise that a man who seemed so upbeat and friendly — who often flashed a smile and a wave for children on the street or who they saw riding his bike on Marin County’s scenic Paradise Loop — had apparently taken his own life. Stan Gray, who enjoyed Williams’ impromptu visits to a comedy club in nearby Mill Valley, drove over Monday night to leave a single red rose in front of the Williams residence, a single-story house with two dark SUVs parked outside the three-car garage and a sweeping vista over the water. “It is very sad. It is too bad. I sort of got to know him through his movies, like all of us did,” Gray said.
 

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