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Actor, Comedian Robin Williams Dead at 63

CBSNews -- The actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead Monday at his home in Tiburon, California. Police say it appears to have been a suicide.
CBSNews -- The actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead today at his home in Tiburon, California.

Police say it appears to have been a suicide. Williams was 63 years old.
Emergency personnel were called to the house in Marin County, north of San Francisco, around noon. Officials say the cause of death is suspected to be asphyxiation, but a forensic exam and toxicology tests will be conducted.

Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, issued a statement Monday evening:

"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."

Williams first rose to fame from the stand-up comedy circuit in the 1970s, with a manic improvisational style all his own. He appeared on the sitcom "Happy Days" and then starred as a lovable alien on its popular spin-off, "Mork & Mindy," from 1978 to 1982.

Williams went on to prove he had serious acting talent as well. He delivered critically praised performances in films like "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987), "Dead Poets Society" (1989), "Awakenings" (1990), and "Good Will Hunting" (1997), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He was a comic whirlwind as a cartoon genie in Disney's "Aladdin" (1992) and "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993).

Williams also won three Golden Globes, for "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King."

In his most recent TV series, "The Crazy Ones," which aired on CBS last year, Williams played a quirky genius who ran an advertising agency with his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Despite all the laughter on screen, his personal life was often troubled. He acknowledged drug and alcohol problems in the 1970s and '80s. A close friend of "Saturday Night Live" star John Belushi, Williams was one of the last to see him before Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982.

Williams got sober and maintained it for two decades. But in 2006, he slipped back into alcoholism and entered rehab. Then again this summer, Williams spoke about fact that he had been drinking once again and checked back into rehab. But The Associated Press notes he rebounded well enough to joke about it during his recent tour: "I went to rehab in wine country," he said, "to keep my options open."

Williams was born in Chicago in 1951, and remembered himself as a shy child who got laughs at home by mimicking his grandmother. He joined the drama club in high school and studied acting at Juilliard, where his teacher, the renowned actor John Houseman, encouraged his talent for comedy.

Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.


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