CBS - 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."
A statement from Robin Williams's press representative noted that he had been battling severe depression.
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 this summer, Williams spoke about fact that he had been drinking once again and checked back into rehab.
Williams was born in Chicago in 1951. He said he was shy as a child and 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.
Williams admired boundary-pushing comics like Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and George Carlin, and wasn't afraid to push boundaries of his own.
"You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear," he told the Associated Press in 1989. "Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it's going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you've laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That's what I do when I do my act."
Celebrity colleagues and admirers of Robin Williams shared their reactions Monday to his death at age 63 in an apparent suicide:
- "I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?" - "Mork & Mindy" co-star Pam Dawber, in a statement.
- "Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can't believe he's gone." - "Hook" director Steven Spielberg, in a statement.
- "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul." - "Waiting for Godot" co-star Steve Martin, on Twitter.
- "Robin and I were great friends, suffering from the same little-known disease: depression. I never could have expected this ending to his life and to ours with him. God bless him and God bless us all for his LIFE! I cannot believe this. I am overwhelmed with grief. What a wonderful man/boy and what a tremendous talent in the most important art of any time - comedy! I loved him." - actor-comedian Chevy Chase, in a statement.
- "I saw him on stage the very first time he auditioned at the Improv and we have been friends ever since. It's a very sad day." - talk show host and comedian Jay Leno, in a statement.
- "We have lost one of our most inspired and gifted comic minds, as well as one of this generation's greatest actors. To watch Robin work, was a magical and special privilege. His performances were unlike anything any of us had ever seen, they came from some spiritual and otherworldly place. He truly was one of the few people who deserved the title of 'genius.'" - "Mrs. Doubtfire" director Chris Columbus, in a statement.
- "His impact on the world was so positive. He did so much good for people. He made me and so many people laugh so hard for a very long time." - "Night at the Museum" co-star Ben Stiller, on Twitter.
- "Robin was friend, boss, brother, inspiration. His generosity and intelligence knew no limits." - "Mrs. Doubtfire" co-star Harvey Fierstein, on Twitter.
- "I am absolutely heartbroken. Robin was a national treasure and a beautiful soul." - The World According to Garp" co-star Glenn Close, in a statement.
- "I've never known a sweeter, brighter, more considerate person than Robin. Robin's commitment as an artist to lifting our mood and making us happy is compared to none. He loved us all and we loved him back." - "Old Dogs" co-star John Travolta, in a statement.
- "He always lit up when he was able to make people laugh, and he made them laugh his whole life long - tirelessly. He was one of a kind. There will not be another." - "Mrs. Doubtfire" co-star Sally Field, in a statement.
- "A big tenacious overflowing hyperkinetic eruption of compassion would be (the) best tribute to Williams." - "Lee Daniels' The Butler" co-star John Cusack, on Twitter.
- "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." - President Barack Obama, in a statement.