Robin Williams died by suicide, coroner confirms

Tributes paid to ‘lightning storm of comic genius’ who could make people laugh and cry

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California. He was 63. The sheriff's coroner's division said it suspects the death was a suicide due to asphyxia. Video: Reuters

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 20:34

Oscar-winning actor and renowned comedian Robin Williams died by asphyxia in his California home, a coroner said today, based on preliminary findings.

Williams (63), was found dead by his personal assistant at midday yesterday when he failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door, Marin County’s assistant chief deputy coroner Keith Boyd told a news conference.

Williams had been seeking treatment for depression, Mr Boyd said. He would not discuss if had left a suicide note, or whether any drugs or alcohol were involved. He said the full toxicology report would take several more weeks.

Robin Williams' daughter tweets

The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the content or availability of other websites.

Tributes have been paid to the versatile actor today, whose madcap comic style made him one of television and film’s biggest stars.

US president Barack Obama, in a statement making reference to the actor’s many roles said: “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. ... 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.”

Director Steven Spielberg said Williams was “a lightning storm of comic genius”.

The comedian’s appeal stretched across generations and genres, from family fare as the voice of Disney’s blue Genie in Aladdin to his portrayal of a fatherly therapist in the 1997 drama Good Will Hunting, for which he earned his sole Oscar.

But many remembered the master of impressions on Monday for his tender portrayal in Mrs Doubtfire, when he played the part of a British nanny whose identity he assumed as a divorced father to be with his children.

Williams had been recently suffering from severe depression, his publicist Mara Buxbaum said in a statement, and the actor had repeatedly talked about his past struggles with alcohol.

“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,” Williams’s wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement.

The sheriff’s office said it received an emergency call about noon local time yesterday, saying Williams was unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco.

Outside the family home in a neighbourhood of low-slung houses with water views, people left flowers and talked about the man who rode his bike around and had a smile and a wave for children on the street.

“It wasn’t like having a celebrity,” said Sonja Conti, who said the actor would often ask about her dog and nicknamed him Dude. “He was just a normal, nice guy. People left him alone.”

Laughter sustained him

Social media was alight with appreciation for Williams, who introduced his boyish exuberance and outlandish vaudeville-esque style to audiences as a quirky extraterrestrial in the late 1970s TV comedy Mork & Mindy.

Williams, who was most recently in the CBS television comedy The Crazy Ones until it was cancelled after one season in May, had entered a rehabilitation centre this summer to help him maintain sobriety.