Robin Williams, the comedian known for his manic, stream-of-consciousness stand-up act and an Oscar-winning actor, was found dead at his home in Tiburon, California yesterday. He was 63.
The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” An investigation was underway.
The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found “unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.” Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m.
According to a police report obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Marin County police responded to a 9-1-1 call about an unidentified male who was not breathing. When the emergency responders arrived at the scene, they found Williams inside his house; he was pronounced dead soon after. Early police reports have suggested his death may be from an apparent suicide, though an investigation is still pending.
“I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” said Williams’ wife Susan Schneider.
“I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. [We] hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy & laughter he gave to millions.”
“He has been battling severe depression of late,” Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter.
“This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
President Barack Obama was among many of those who paid tribute to the gifted actor.
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny … and everything in between,” tweeted the president. “But he was one of a kind.”
Last month, Williams checked himself into a rehab facility to “fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud,” his rep said at the time.
The comedian first gained fame as a stand-up known for his fast-paced routines that could switch from childlike silliness to dark, profanity-laced ranting, sometimes within the same sentence.
Williams went on to star in the Seventies TV sitcom Mork & Mindy, where he played a lovable, rainbow-suspenders-wearing alien named Mork.
He later established himself as an actor who could handle broad comic and subtle dramatic roles, and won a Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for his role as a therapist in Good Will Hunting.
RIP Robin Williams.