Robin Williams dead at 63

Robin Williams has been found dead in his Tiburon, California, home. He was 63.

News of Williams's death gained some traction on Twitter through NBC's Bay Area affiliate, and was later confirmed by Variety.com and Entertainment Weekly. (The Good Will Hunting Oscar winner had been erroneously killed off in a Twitter death hoax in 2012.)

According to the Marin County Sheriff's official statement: "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."  

Williams, who recently checked into rehab after a lifelong battle with drug and alcohol addiction, was said to be suffering from "severe depression". In a 1995 interview with the Georgia Straight for the film Jumanji, he discussed the "pains and fears" that fuelled his comedy. Wrote Ian Caddell:

"He cites comic Richard Pryor, who gave Williams his first break when he hired him to appear regularly on his short-lived mid-1970s television variety show, as someone who inspired him to take the pain and turn it into humour. 'Richard Pryor has been through the most painful life on the planet. He’s the only man who could make a joke about the fact that as he lay dying from setting fire to himself, some guy blew the smoke away and said "Richard, how about giving me that last autograph?" You have to have a way of dealing with the fears of this surreal world of being a celebrity. Someone said that a punch line is a grievance unanswered. For me, comedy was, and still is, a good way of meeting people, but also, it is very therapeutic in terms of dealing with pain and fear."

Three years later, while promoting What Dreams May Come, Williams talked to the Straight about the emotional dangers inherent in acting: 

“You have to have enough control so that you don’t break down sobbing for two hours, because this kind of stuff is so intense that you may get to that point. You might come to a point where you will almost have a breakdown, because at the end you have to take it as far as you can, to where you’re empty. You’re going through every known emotion, in terms of loss and life and love. On the other side of that emotion, of that journey, lies deep, over-the-edge depression. If you go over the edge and you want to pull yourself back, how do you do that?”

He'll always be remembered for his breakout role on television's Mork & Mindy, but if you're looking for some of the hidden gems in Williams's extensive filmography, how about dialling up 2002's Vancouver-lensed Death to Smoochy, One Hour Photo, World's Greatest Dad, Moscow on the Hudson, or even Robert Altman's unfairly maligned Popeye for a good all-nighter?

Comments (17) Add New Comment
A. MacInnis
Somehow I`m not really surprised. He seemed a highly volatile individual, definitely with a manic side; I generally presume anyone who can go so far in the one direction can go just as far in the other...
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Natty
I was looking at an article earlier today comparing the cast of "Hook", then and now and it made me think on how his career had really come full circle. As a comedian, most of the time I felt that he tried too hard to be funny, and, as a result, wasn't. But his voice skills were pretty amazing.
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Boris Moris
The distance between the tongue and the brain is very short. RW made that path seem long deep and textured and did it all at breakneck speed.

What a ride!!
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Richard Pryor's short lived series
I borrowed Richard Pryor's short lived series and I watched the last episode where he introduced all of the actors on his show (I think it was the last, don't quote me.) I was surprised to see Robin Williams was on the show. R.P. never used him in skits, he used the same 2 or 3 actors who weren't all that great tbh. Maybe Robin was a writer on his show??
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Rest his Blessed Soul
We know Williams was cursed with a billion demons. Instead of spreading rage, he tried to send a loving message. Sheer bravery. I'll miss my hero, Popeye deeply. -Rachel
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not surprised
He had been depressed, possibly bi polar and manic for years. It was bound to happen. sad but the writing was on the wall.
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Bruce
@surprised....NO the writing was not on the wall. It was not BOUND to happen! Easy to come up with that after the fact. It could just as easily have gone the other way, and Robin could have lived a long life.
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Beloved Robin Williams RIP
I'm stunned. This is sudden and tragic. We have lost one of the greatest human beings. Robin Williams gave so much of himself throughout his life and work, and touched the lives of everyone in many ways because he understood what it is like to live life and therefore, helped us live through and understand our pain, with laughter. Our world is at a great loss without Robin Williams. I'm very saddened to learn this news of his death. Very sad. Gone way too soon.
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jolly b. good
nanu nanu, hey hey hey, goodbye : (
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Stanley Q Woodvine
Really? An entire career devoted to making other people happy and his life ends in such sadness.

For over 36 years I could count on Robin Williams to lift my spirits when I was down.

It's the Pagliacci joke.

Who's there for the comedians when they need to laugh?
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Martin Dunphy
I'm with Rachel: I'll remember him as Popeye (in terms of film roles). Understated and over the top at the same time and a cartoon study that was brilliant in its nuanced mannerisms--never out of character for a second, and more true to Popeye's roots than most people were aware. Then to be paired with a note-perfect Shelley Duvall in a role she was absolutely born to play.
Too bad Robert Altman was such a stunningly good choice as director for a film Americans were destined to hate.
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The Best
One of my favourite roles was him playing a gay version of Leo Gorcey's 'Slip Mahoney' in The Bowery Boys, on SCTV.

Depression is a horrible condition and I don't blame him one bit for ending his pain. Sometimes love, support and medications just aren't enough.
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A. MacInnis
Um, speaking of reviled Altman's, would be disrespectful to Mr. Williams to ask if anyone here has seen OC and Stiggs? Just curious. (I haven't seen Popeye in decades but it interests me that it has so many admirers here!).
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Pat Crowe
Ten years ago I was raising the fork to my mouth in Cioppino's and around the corner walked Robin right past me giving me the "aha" nod. I think I froze with the fork in front of my face for ten seconds processing the moment. He talked to the table of four across from ours for a few minutes and paid their tab when he found out it was a birthday celebration. Robin then walked alone up Hamilton street with his escort car staying well back behind him as Robin stopped for pics with the few couples walking down the road towards him. I will never forget how genuinely happy, low key, kind and ordinary he came across. An everyman for everyone. He was the comic's comic of my generation. This news really hurts.
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Martin Dunphy
The Best:

Dear alleged god, I can't believe that slipped my mind. It was an entire episode, and one of the all-time classics. The supporting work was semi-brilliant as well. Too bad most people would never get the references today.
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John Lucas
I always liked Altman's Popeye and was never sure why it was received so poorly.
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Constance
How lucky are we to have experienced a greatness beyond normal portrayal. Very few people touch that collective soul so powerfully.. I felt he gave us a community of fun, laughter and love. Thank you, Robin... you made this world a better place with your insight and fun-loving attitude. Thanks.
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