Monday 24 November 2014

'The world lost one of its most beloved artists' - Comic genius Robin Williams' wife mourns loss of husband

'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' - Susan Schneider

Adam Lusher

Published 12/08/2014 | 14:42

The Hollywood star Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide. He was 63.

Marin County Sheriff's Office said it suspected the death was a suicide due to asphyxia, but the cause of death remains under investigation.

Williams's third wife Susan Schneider released a statement on Monday night in which she said: "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.”

The star’s publicist Mara Buxbaum said Williams had recently been suffering from severe depression.

In his final posting on Instagram on 1 August, Williams had wished his daughter Zelda a happy 25th birthday. Late on Monday, Zelda paid tribute to her father with an excerpt from French poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery's El Principito, which read: "You - you alone will have the stars as no one else has them... In one of the stars I shall be living.

"In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night ... You - only you - will have stars that can laugh."

Flowers and momentos left by fans are seen at Robin Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is seen, August 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California.  Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his Marin County home earlier today of an apparent suicide. He was 63 years old. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers and momentos left by fans are seen at Robin Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is seen, August 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California. Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his Marin County home earlier today of an apparent suicide. He was 63 years old. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 11: Robin Williams' hand and footprint impression is seen at the TCL Chinese Theatre on August 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
A woman grieves besides Robin Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is seen, August 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California. Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his Marin County home earlier today of an apparent suicide. He was 63 years old. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers and momentos left by fans are seen at Robin Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is seen, August 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California. Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his Marin County home earlier today of an apparent suicide. He was 63 years old. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - AUGUST 11: A makeshift memorial for Robin Williams is set up in front of a home on August 11, 2014 in Boulder, Colorado. The exterior of the house was used in the opening credits for "Mork & Mindy," the comedy based in Boulder that catapulted Williams' career. Williams, 63, died at his Northern California home Monday in a suspected suicide, according to law enforcement officials. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - AUGUST 11: Local residents take in a makeshift memorial for Robin Williams on August 11, 2014 in Boulder, Colorado. The exterior of the house was used in the opening credits for "Mork & Mindy," the comedy based in Boulder that catapulted Williams' career. Williams, 63, died at his Northern California home Monday in a suspected suicide, according to law enforcement officials. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - AUGUST 11: A makeshift memorial for Robin Williams is set up in front of a home on August 11, 2014 in Boulder, Colorado. The exterior of the house was used in the opening credits for "Mork & Mindy," the comedy based in Boulder that catapulted Williams' career. Williams, 63, died at his Northern California home Monday in a suspected suicide, according to law enforcement officials. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 11: Actor Robin Williams' star is seen on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
(FILES) A file picture taken on January 31, 1994 in Boulogne-Billancourt, ouside Paris, shows US actor Robin Williams taking part in the broadcast news of French TV channel TF1. Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead at his home in California from suspected suicide, police said on August 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JOEL ROBINE (Photo credit should read JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)

She added: "I love you. I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up."

Read more: 'I love you, I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up'

Williams, who had struggled with addictions to drink and drugs in the past, had entered a Minnesota rehabilitation centre last month to help him maintain sobriety.

His representatives at the time said Williams was not using drugs or alcohol but had gone to the centre to "fine-tune and focus" his sobriety after working a longer-than-usual schedule.

Actor Robin Williams (R), star of the film
Actor Robin Williams (R), star of the film "World's Greatest Dad", escorts Susan Schneider at the film's premiere in Los Angeles, California
Oscar-winning actor and comedian Williams was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files
Actor and comedian Robin Williams (L) shares a laugh with actor Billy Crystal on the stage of New York's Radio City Music Hall during HBO's "Comic Relief 8" show
Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files
Actor Robin Williams (R) jokes with US Postal rider Lance Armstrong before the start of the 15th stage of the Tour de France between Valreas and Villard-de-Lans, in 2004. Reuters
Comedians Robin Williams (R), Billy Crystal (L) and Whoopi Goldberg share a hug on the stage of New York's Radio City Music Hall at the end of HBO's "Comic Relief 8" show, in 1998. Reuters
Actor Robin Williams arrives for the European premiere of 'Happy Feet' at the Empire cinema in London in November 2006. Reuters
Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams jokes with reporters as he arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of the film "One Hour Photo" in Beverly Hills, California, August 22, 2002. Reuters
Actor Robin Williams, star of the new film "One Hour Photo", arrives for the film's premiere at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Reuters
Robin Williams and daughter Zelda Williams at the premiere of their film "House of D" in New York, April 10, 2005. Reuters
Artist Susan Schneider and actor Robin Williams arrive for the Comedy Awards 2012 in New York
Comedian Robin Williams, wearing a camouflage jacket, entertains a cheering crowd of U.S. Army troops at Baghdad airport
Actor and comedian Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of the film "World's Greatest Dad" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah
Actor and comedian Robin Williams prepares to present the award for best animated feature at the 77th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files
Actor Robin Williams (L) poses with his then wife Marsha as they arrive for the premiere of his film " What Dreams May Come" in Beverly Hills
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas/Files
File photo dated 1/7/2010 of actor Robin Williams who has been found dead at his home in California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said.
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files
Actor/comedian Robin Williams poses backstage with the Cecil B. DeMille award he received at the 62nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California
Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire
Robin Williams holds his Oscar after winning Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in "Good Will Hunting" at the 70th Annual Academy Awards
Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files
Robin Williams starred in the original Mrs Doubtfire movie
Robin Williams, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in "Good Will Hunting", arrives with his wife Marsha at the 70th Annual Academy Awards
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files
Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead on August 11, 2014 at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

The Marin County Sheriff's office said it received an emergency call about midday on Monday, saying that Williams was unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco.  Local newspapers reported that he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Fellow comedy star Steve Martin said in a tweet: "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul."

The thrice-married father-of-three was known to millions for his performances in films that ranged from the out and out manic comedy of Mrs Doubtfire, to more thought provoking fare like Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King.  In many films, like Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams attracted widespread praise by successfully combining his gift for comedy with an exploration of more serious underlying themes.

Quotes: The poetic superstar: Robin Williams' most poignant off screen quotes

1. Cheerleading for the Denver broncos 1980 - sent in by Colin Corrigan.
Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams jokes with reporters as he arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of the film "One Hour Photo" in Beverly Hills, California, August 22, 2002. Reuters
Actor and comedian Robin Williams (L) shares a laugh with actor Billy Crystal on the stage of New York's Radio City Music Hall during HBO's "Comic Relief 8" show
Comedian Robin Williams, wearing a camouflage jacket, entertains a cheering crowd of U.S. Army troops at Baghdad airport
Actor Robin Williams pays tribute to actor Matt Damon during the 24th American Cinematheque Award benefit gala in Beverly Hills, California in this March 27, 2010
Actor and comedian Robin Williams prepares to present the award for best animated feature at the 77th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Robin Williams holds his Oscar after winning Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in "Good Will Hunting" at the 70th Annual Academy Awards
Robin Williams with Zig & Zag on 'The Big Breakfast'
Robin Williams laughs, at a panel for the television series "The Crazy Ones" during the CBS portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California in this July 29
Robin Williams starred in the original Mrs Doubtfire movie
Above and beyond the call: Robin Williams as the inspirational teacher of Matt Damon in the film 'Good Will Hunting'
Robin Williams during a rare live performance of 'An Evening With Robin Williams' presented by The Comedy Garden at the Beacon Theater in New York City Photo: Getty Image
Actor Robin Williams accepts the Favorite Scene Stealing Guest Star Award at the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
US actor Robin Williams (C) and US celebrity Lewis Black (L) laugh in the back stage during the entertaining performance of "Holiday Troop Visit" by US celebrities for Christmas at boardwalk stage of the Kandahar Air Field on December 16, 2010. US Actor Robin Williams, together with Lance Armstrong and Lewis Black attended the event. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
396102 02: Actor and comedian Robin Williams shares a laugh by cell phone with Kathleen Gagliardi, wife of New York City Police Lt. Gary Gagliardi who is working at ground zero Sept. 17, 2001 in New York City. Williams spent time with the rescue workers as well as suprising their wives with phone calls. (Photo by Tom Sperduto/U.S. Coast Guard/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Actor Robin Williams (L) and Robert Duvall laugh together upon their arrival at the 70th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles 23 March 1998. Both Williams and Duvall are both nominated for Best Actor awards. AFP PHOTO Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

Click here for tributes, photos, videos and some of Robin Williams's best moments

Nominated for the Best Actor Oscar three times, Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, in which he played the therapist to Matt Damon’s working class maths genius.

As a stand-up, his explosive, improvisational talent was so hard to match that even the established star Billy Crystal once admitted that following Williams on stage was like trying to top the Civil War.

Such was his talent that he was allowed to ad-lib in many of his films – and his quick wit enlivened many a media appearance.

During a media tour for the 1990 film Awakenings, when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a "menstrual hospital," instead of "mental hospital," Williams had the presence of mind to offer the explanation: "It's a period piece."

Williams once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.

He also said: "Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it's going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you've laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That's what I do when I do my act."

Tributes: Tributes to Robin Williams pour in from President Obama and Hollywood elite from Spielberg to Steve Martin 

Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother - by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club.

He began his career in stand-up comedy before first achieving widespread fame in the TV sitcom Mork and Mindy.  The show ran from 1978 to 1982 and Williams was frequently allowed to indulge his talent for improvised comedy while playing Mork, an alien living on Earth.

As Mork and Mindy became increasingly popular, Williams started to reach an even wider audience with a series of televised stand-up comedy shows.

During the late Seventies and early Eighties, however, Williams developed an addiction to cocaine.

Williams was a close friend of the comedian John Belushi who died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1982.  Williams had enjoyed wild parties with Belushi and subsequently admitted that the death of his friend and the birth of his son prompted him to quit drugs: "Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level.”

On August 9, 2006, however, Williams checked himself into a rehab centre, later admitting he was an alcoholic.  His publicist announced: “After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family.”

Moments: Robin Williams: Best film moments from Mrs Doubtfire to Good Will Hunting 

Williams, though, appeared to have recovered well enough to joke, on a recent tour: "I went to rehab in wine country.  To keep my options open."

In March 2009 Williams was also hospitalised by heart problems, and had to undergo surgery to surgery to replace his aortic valve.

A keen charity fundraiser Williams had, with his second wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation, to raise money for a wide variety of causes.

The US President Barack Obama led an outpouring of tributes to Williams, calling the Hollywood Star a "one of a kind" who "arrived in our lives as an alien - but ended up touching every element of the human spirit".

The Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey tweeted: “Robin Williams made the world laugh & think. I will remember & honour that. A great man, artist and friend. I will miss him beyond measure.”

Moments: When Mork met Zig & Zag - Robin Williams' banter with Irish puppet aliens on 'The Big Breakfast' 

Steve Carell, the star of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the US version of The Office, simply wrote: “Robin Williams made the world a little bit better. RIP.”

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."

An autopsy is due to take place on Tuesday.

Click here for tributes, photos, videos and some of Robin Williams's best moments

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