Robin Williams dies at 63 of apparent suicide; reactions, tributes pour in

Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams died at age 63, the Marin County County Sheriff’s office confirmed on Monday evening. Cause of death is suspected to be suicide.

The office said that they responded to a 911 call Monday morning that a male adult was found not breathing inside his home in Tiburon, Calif. Williams was identified shortly after and pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m.

“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made,” the release stated.

His publicist, Mara Buxbaum, confirmed the news as well, and said that Williams was recently battling “severe depression.”

“Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late,” Buxbaum said in a statement. “This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, also released a statement to news outlets: “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. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. 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.”

The actor talked openly about his battle with addiction through the years — he had a brief stint in rehab this summer, which his publicist called an “opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud.”

Although Williams had problems with alcohol and cocaine the 1980s, he said he quit after his good friend, John Belushi, overdosed. In 2003, he relapsed after being sober for two decades, and went to rehab a few years later.

“It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump,’” Williams told Diane Sawyer in an interview at the time, after he spent two months in a treatment facility. “It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’”

Williams had heart surgery in 2009 to replace an aortic valve. The following year, he reflected on his struggles in a Guardian interview, in which the reporter asked Williams “if he feels happier now.”

Williams’ response, which he spoke “softly”: “I think so. And not afraid to be unhappy. That’s OK too. And then you can be like, all is good. And that is the thing, that is the gift.”

Williams was first known for his comedic roles, particularly his physical comedy, starting with his breakout role on sitcom “Mork & Mindy” and including “Patch Adams,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Hook,” “The Birdcage” and more. He landed an Academy Award nod for “Good Morning, Vietnam” in 1987.

In a November 1978 Washington Post profile, former TV critic Tom Shales described Williams’ electric energy as “Mork & Mindy” debuted on television: “It’s a bit disorienting to come upon a fellow with the inventiveness of an Albert Einstein and the attention span of a Daffy Duck, but these are among the qualities that have made Robin Williams at 26 the hottest comedian in America.”

But he won many accolades for his dramatic acting, as well. Williams got the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Oscars in 1997 for his role as the steadfast psychologist in “Good Will Hunting,” and was also lauded with praise for his work in “Dead Poets Society” and “One Hour Photo.”

Williams was an accomplished voice actor, famously the man behind the genie in Disney’s 1992 animated smash “Aladdin.” He reprised his voiceover skills again for the kid-friendly “Happy Feet” movies in the mid-to-late 2000s.


He recently tweeted a link to a trailer of the upcoming “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” his third movie in a series with co-star Ben Stiller.

Williams recently tried to make a TV comeback this past year, starring in CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones”  as an eccentric advertising executive who worked with his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The ratings were just okay, and the network canceled the show after one season.

Shortly after the news of Williams’ death broke on Monday, President Obama released a statement:

Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind.  He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.  The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.

More to come — here’s the full release from the Marin County office. Below, an outpouring of tributes from celebrities and Williams’ most famous fans.

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 am, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63 year old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.

A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Robin Williams’ last Instagram post:

Tweets from fans:

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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