Remembering Robin Williams: Beloved Actor and Comedian

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Acclaimed actor and beloved comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, California on Monday afternoon in an apparent suicide. The actor who rose to fame playing a goofy alien on the TV show Mork and Mindy and went on to become one of the most versatile and beloved comedians of his generation was 63 years old.

The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that officers were dispatched to the actor’s home upon a 911 call received at 11:55 a.m. Emergency responders arrived at 12:00 p.m. and the actor was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m. An investigation is currently underway, but the coroner “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.”

While Williams was known for his quirky comedic roles and unflagging optimism, like many comedians, he struggled with depression and addiction off-screen. Williams joked about his troubles with alcohol and cocaine in his standup routines, but was constantly haunted by those demons. In 2006, Williams checked back into rehab upon suffering a relapse after twenty years of sobriety, The New York Times said. Then he entered rehab again earlier this year, at which time his publicist said that he was taking some time to refocus on his efforts to stay sober. Williams’ publicist told the Times that recently the actor “has been battling severe depression.”

Williams first gained public attention from his role as the lovable alien Mork on the sitcom Mork and Mindy, as well as his zany stand up routines that revealed his seemingly inexhaustible ability to improvise on any topic. Williams could make almost anyone laugh; riffing on topics from the obscene to the completely tame with hilarious effect.

Williams’ film work held great appeal for both children and adults. He had iconic roles in children’s movies including Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, and Flubber, but interspersed those types of films with more serious roles. Williams received Oscar nominations for his roles as a radio DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam, an unconventional teacher in Dead Poets Society, and a homeless man in The Fisher King, finally winning for his portrayal of the therapist who works with Matt Damon’s savant character in Good Will Hunting.

More recently, Williams appeared on the television series The Crazy Ones, which was canceled after one season, and played Dwight Eisenhower in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Williams has several films in post-production, including latest installment in the Night at the Museum franchise, in which Williams played President Teddy Roosevelt. That’s in addition to the independent comedy Merry Friggin’ Christmas and the British comedy Absolutely Anything that sees Williams lending his voice to a character called Dennis the Dog.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Schneider, who told The New York Times in a statement: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world 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.” He is also survived by two sons, Zach and Cody, and his daughter Zelda, from two different previous marriages.

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