The comedian and actor Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California. He was 63. Marin County police said the coroner believes his death to be a suicide by asphyxiation.
Williams had had problems with drugs and alcohol and had recently checked into a rehabilitation centre to try to remain sober.
In a statement released to the Hollywood Reporter, Williams’ publicist said the star had been battling severe depression, but the death was a “tragic and sudden loss.”
His wife, Susan Schneider, said she had lost her husband and her best friend while the world had lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. “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,” she added.
Williams’s career began as a stand-up comedian and he rose to international fame as the alien Mork in the 1970s TV sitcom Mork & Mindy, but will be best remembered for a slew of critically acclaimed film performances. Good Will Hunting earned him an Oscar, while Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King and Good Morning Vietnam saw him pick up Golden Globes. One of his most loved characters was Mrs Doubtfire, who was expected to be returning in an upcoming sequel.
While it is comedy which made his name, it was his dramatic performances that earned him the best reviews. One Hour Photo and Insomnia, both in 2002, saw him explore his darker side.
Fellow performers have been quick to add their tributes. Steve Martin, who starred alongside Williams in a stage production of Waiting for Godot, tweeted “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams. Mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
The comedian Ellen De Generes, who hosted this year’s Oscars, said “He gave so much to so many people,” adding that she was heartbroken.
Williams was most recently seen on the big screen in a small role, as President Dwight D Eisenhower in last year’s The Butler, which wouldn’t be a fitting way to round off such an illustrious career, which did also have its fair share of mawkish movies. But much like the recent untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died with a number of films due for release, Hollywood will be waiting to see how Williams unseen work will add to his legacy.