Robin Williams dead; family, friends and fans are ‘totally devastated’

(CNN) — Robin Williams — who first made America laugh and eventually touched “every element of the human spirit” in a remarkable range of performances — died at his Northern California home Monday.

Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.

“He has been battling severe depression of late,” his media representative Mara Buxbaum told CNN. “This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Coroner investigators suspect “the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia,” according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff’s Office.

Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in Napa Valley, California, ceremony in October 2011.

“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,” Schneider said.

“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.”

Word of Williams’ death stunned the entertainment community and beyond Monday.

President Barack Obama’s statement sent from the White House summed it up:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But 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.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

Comedian Steve Martin tweeted, “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

Former CNN host Larry King said he would remember Williams as “a genuine caring guy.  Not just a funny man, but a guy who cared about people.”

Marin County deputies responded to an emergency call from Williams’ home in unincorporated Tiburon, California, at 11:55 a.m., reporting “a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing,” the release from the sheriff said.

Williams was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m., it said.

Williams was last seen alive at his home, where he lives with his wife, at about 10 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff’s statement said.

“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,” the sheriff’s statement said.

“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.”

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, the sheriff said.

Williams made at least two trips to rehab for drug treatment, including a visit this summer, and he underwent heart surgery in 2009.

Williams, born in Chicago on July 21, 1951, studied theater at Juilliard School before taking his stand up act to nightclubs. He was cast as Mork, an alien visitor to Earth, for a 1978 episode of television’s “Happy Days.”

“Happy Days” star Henry Winkler said it was “unimaginable that this is the reality today, that this incredible human being, incredible, delicate, funny, dramatic human being is gone.”

Winkler said he “realized I was in the presence of greatness” at Williams’ first rehearsal as Mork.

“I just realized my only job is to keep a straight face,” said Winkler, who played “The Fonz.” “And it was impossible. Because no matter what you said to him, no matter what line you gave to him, he took it in, processed it, and then it flew out of his mouth, never the same way twice. And it was incredibly funny every time.”

The role led to the spin-off show “Mork & Mindy,” which showcased Williams’ usual comic improvisation talents.

He proved his dramatic acting skills in “Good Will Hunting,” a 1997 film that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar.

His memorable movies over the past three decades includes “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Birdcage.” The list is much longer.

Williams credited the influence of Jonathan Winters’ comic irreverence and quirky characters as a great influence on his comedy. The connection between the two was completed when Winters was cast as Williams’ son on “Mork & Mindy.”

When Winters died in 2013, Williams said he was “my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend.” He tweeted that Winters was his “Comedy Buddha.”

“Mork & Mindy” co-star Pam Dawber simply said “I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?”

WIlliams and Dawber reunited on TV earlier this year on an episode of the CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones.”

Williams’ fans can look forward to four more movie appearances coming to theaters, including another installment in the “Night at the Museum” franchise.

The film, set for a December release, has Williams reprising the Teddy Roosevelt role he delivered in the first two comedies.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

 

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18 comments

  • Pat

    My condolences to Robin Williams’ family and friends on the loss of Mr. Williams. To us he was a wonderful actor and comedian, to you so much more.

  • Robert Fitzpatrick

    R.I.P. Robin Williams, you made us laugh and cry, You will be missed. For me your best movie was The Birdcage, followed by a close second is Patch Addams. You certainly will have a great audience to show your talent to up in Heaven. God Bless you and your family.

  • Becky Harris

    I’m a beloved fan of Robin Williams I hope and pray for his family to celebrate his death as he would want u too I’m saddened but I am so thankful for benign in this life while he was here his tv person was a enjoyment in my life thank you I even named my pet after the movie Patch Adams ill keep family & friends in prays

  • Shirley

    I met him once he was a wonderful and caring person he gave me advice that helped me make decisions that were life changing. We talked for hours and he made me laugh over and over and over again. My prayers to the family, may God be with you.

  • Susan Traxler

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Robin Williams was a great actor and I loved him in Mork and Mindy. And the movie Mrs Doubtfire. He was a great actor he will be missed, and remembered by all.

  • Brian Gray

    Tonight I was sucker punched with the news of Robin Williams death. I immediately said no, and was in denial, I cried BULLSHIT! I awaited the news of a hoax..

    I waited…..

    The news of a hoax never came & the internet blew up with the reality of his apparent suicide.

    When I think of comedians, I always think of Williams whose frenetic and off the wall, zip, zam, boom humor and wit was something nothing short of genius.. When I was a kid and saw him on Happy Days, which lead off to The Mork and Mindy show, I said to myself that dude is a star!

    There is a common denominator amongst great comedians, being shy, introverted, no self esteem but some how when they get on stage and the lights hit them they bring something, bigger, brighter from there inner core.

    Forever Remembered:

    I think of Belushi, Kinison, Lenny Bruce, Freddy Prinze to name a few these people were shooting stars! When you saw them on stage you knew! They lit up the night shooting across the sky, and for a moment you, you witnessed genius! You took a deep breath at their brightness, beauty & talent! Then in an instant, poof, they are gone, a shooting star.

    They are forever remembered!

    Robin Williams will be forever remembered, we are all blessed that his star shone brighter, longer for what ever reason

    We are all forever changed and better because of him..

    We will never know what it was like to be Robin Williams, he had his demons, I pray he has found peace at last.

    I know what it is like to live with depression I have lived most of my life with one foot on the stool, many of my friends and family can attest to this fact and that sometimes we are own worst enemy.

    We are seeking confirmation and acceptance and love. The things we don’t have in ourselves and desperately seek. Some find it on the stage and screen and for that moment, get the love and acceptance they or we so desperately crave until the lights go down.

    Eventually, they are in their room, alone, not the celebrity,and left with your own thoughts, and it gets to be to much and they seek solace in drink or drugs..

    Robin, fly over the clouds and let your dreams escape, where there is no pain and strife the peace that should be with life..

    Thank you for making the world a better place with laughter

    R.I.P

    Brian Gray — feeling heartbroken.

  • Cynthia

    Sad, a remarkable talent & light in this world has been extinguished. May the family find comfort & peace knowing they are not alone and that we all have suffered a great loss.

  • Papercat

    I read Cynthia’s post completely, even though I initially thought I wouldn’t because it was so long. It reminds me of a very prescient quote made by David Letterman when describing his bout with depression. He said, “Depression is when you see the world the way it really is”. I have to agree. The endorphins aren’t working, there is no way to move on to the alternate (happy) reality that endorphins allow us to live in, despite all the human suffering around us.

    I think RW felt the need to suffer, which is why he chose the method. Perhaps he thought he deserved to because others have suffered so much more. I hate to add this but I feel strongly that he was in another loveless marriage. They were only married 3 years. That’s still newlywed status in my opinion. He had a heart surgery in the past. His new wife doesn’t know where he slept and didn’t care? She didn’t even check on him the next morning? He knew she wouldn’t. I’m not blaming Susan Schneider. Marriages are complicated things. A chronically depressed person is hard to live with. But, I wonder if Robin Williams felt like his marriage was just another reason not to live another day.

    I’m sad and I’m sorry that such a nice, caring, gentle human being has left us. I wish someone could have told him that could still save many others from early death with the laughter that releases endorphins in otherwise suicidal minds. It was a purpose in this world when there seemed to be none. RIP, Robin Williams. You did so much for so many.

  • Deborah Dalzell

    I first learned of Robin’s death about 4 days ago, and I simply couldn’t believe it… I first became enthralled with Robin’s incredible talent during the taping of the show “Mork & Mindy”. He was such a talented actor, who could make us laugh, cry and everything in between… I and my son send out our sincerest condolences to his family, and friends and we pray that now he has found the peace that he was searching for. The world is indeed now a sadder place in which to reside knowing that a beloved individual has passed. Robin, you INDEED will be missed…

  • Maria

    Mr Jeremy: how dare you put something up like this. Shame on you. God is the only one to judge. Have some compassion for his family and respect. You don’t know what people are going threw. For you to be so cruel. And others posting cruel comments. If you can’t say anything nice. Have respect enough for his family and keep your comments to yourselves. You call yourselves Christians?

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