Wednesday 26 June 2019

Obituary: Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Actor Robin Williams arrives at BAFTA Los Angeles 2011 Britannia Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel on November 30, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For BAFTA Los Angeles)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Actor Robin Williams arrives at BAFTA Los Angeles 2011 Britannia Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel on November 30, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For BAFTA Los Angeles)

Legendary Hollywood actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead Monday at his home in Tiburon, California, at the age of 63.

The actor apparently died by suicide following a battle with severe depression.

The veteran star had wowed in both comedic and dramatic roles since the mid-1970s when he shot to fame on sitcom Mork & Mindy.  A decade later he had proven his dramatic mettle with an Oscar nod for Good Morning, Vietnam, before finally landing a Best Supporting Actor golden statuette  for Good Will Hunting.

However, Williams had battled demons since his early rise to fame, becoming addicted to cocaine during his four seasons on Mork & Mindy, and battling alcoholism and depression in more recent years.

Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 21, 1951 to a former model and senior executive at the Ford Motor Company.  He grew up in Michigan before moving to California and earning himself a scholarship to the prestigious Julliard School of performing arts in New York.  Along with fellow actor Christopher Reeve, Williams was accepted into the Advanced Program at the school before graduating in 1976.

Read: ‘He struggled, he was enduring inner conflict’ – Robin Williams' Irish sober-living coach 

Two years later he played the alien Mork in an episode of Happy Days, so impressing producers and viewers with his largely improvised wit that he secured a spin-off show, Mork & Mindy, which ran for four years.  Williams never abandoned his stand-up roots, however, performing consistently on the comedy stage until his untimely death.

It was in 1987 that Williams proved his considerable dramatic chops with the film Good Morning, Vietnam and earning himself an Oscar nomination as a gregarious but damaged Armed Forces Radio DJ in Saigon during the Vietnam War. This was the first of three Best Actor nominations, the second coming in 1989 for Dead Poets Society, and the third in 1991 for The Fisher King.

Moments: Remember THAT Oscars speech? Robin Williams' most memorable moments  

His fourth nomination, for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, resulted in a win for the star who played a hugely empathetic but damaged psychologist who attempts to help a damaged but brilliant student, played by Matt Damon.

However, whilst Williams’ career was blossoming, he also battled personal challenges.  During filming of Mork & Mindy he developed an addiction to cocaine and alcohol.  He divorced his first wife, actress Valerie Velardi in 1998, marrying his son Zak’s nanny Marsha Garces the following year.  Williams and Garces had two children, Zelda Ray Williams (born July 31, 1989) and Cody Alan Williams (Born November 25, 1991).  They divorced after a decade of marriage and Williams went on to marry Susan Schneider, his third wife, in October 2011. Although the actor’s close friend John Belushi’s death from an overdose, combined with the birth of his son Zak, had prompted Williams to quit drugs and alcohol, the actor relapsed in 2003 whilst filming Insomnia in Alaska.  In 2006 he checked himself into rehab.

Tribute: Robin Williams' 'The Crazy Ones' co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar pays tribute to "father I always dreamed of having" 

However, the actor recovered enough to return to stand-up in late 2008, embarking on a  three month 26-city tour.  In February 2013 he starred in David E Kelley comedy The Crazy Ones with Sarah Michelle Gellar, although the show was cancelled after just one season.

Speaking in the wake of the actor’s death, Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum told 'The Hollywood Reporter': "Robin Williams passed away this morning.  He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."

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

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