Comedian and actor Robin Williams, 63, died from “asphyxia due to hanging,” according to preliminary findings announced at a press conference on Tuesday by Lt. Keith Boyd of the Marin County’s Sheriff’s Office.
Williams was discovered on Monday shortly before noon by his personal assistant who became concerned when the actor did not respond to several knocks on the door, Boyd said. Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, last saw her husband alive around 10:30 p.m. when she went to bed.
Schneider left the home around 10:30 a.m. Monday, assuming Williams was still asleep, Boyd said. Williams had retired to a different room and was found fully clothed with a belt tied around his neck. The belt was wedged between the closet door and door frame, and Williams “was in a seated position slightly suspended off the ground,” Boyd said. “What that means is that his body looked like he was sitting in a chair.”
Schneider returned to the home after Williams had been declared deceased by police and the Fire Department, Boyd said. Boyd would not say if Williams left a note. The actor also had superficial stab wounds on his left wrist and a pocket knife was found next to his body, Boyd said.
Toxicology tests will be conducted, and the investigation will continue to determine an approximate time of death, Boyd said. Rigor mortis had set in when Williams’ assistant found him, he said.
The shocking news was delivered as memorials popped up all over the country: from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to his home in Northern California, the house in Boulder, Colorado, that served as the “Mork & Mindy” home, to the “Good Will Hunting” bench.
The Oscar-winning legend battled addiction for decades and recently was suffering from “severe depression,” his publicist said.
A father of three, Williams recently posted on Instagram a photograph of him and his daughter, Zelda, on her 25th birthday. In April, he posted a black and white photograph of his son Zak on his 31st birthday. He also had a 22-year-old son, Cody.
On Monday night, Zelda Williams, also an actress, paid tribute to her father on social media quoting “The Little Prince” and saying, “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”
Robin Williams, the Academy Award winner and comic supernova whose explosions of pop culture riffs and impressions dazzled audiences for decades and made him a gleamy-eyed laureate for the Information Age, died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.
Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, according to the sheriff’s office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff’s office said a preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork and Mindy,” through his standup act and such films as “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast, manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.
He was a riot in drag in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or as a cartoon genie in “Aladdin.” He won his Academy Award in a rare, but equally intense dramatic role, as a teacher in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.”
He was no less on fire in interviews. During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.
“There’s an Ice Age coming,” he said. “But the good news is there’ll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that’s the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas.”
Like so many funnymen, he had serious ambitions, winning his Oscar for his portrayal of an empathetic therapist in “Good Will Hunting.” He also played for tears in “Awakenings,” ”Dead Poets Society” and “What Dreams May Come,” something that led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to once say he dreaded seeing the actor’s “Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes.”
Williams also won three Golden Globes, for “Good Morning, Vietnam,” ”Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Fisher King.”
His other film credits included Robert Altman’s “Popeye” (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky’s “Moscow on the Hudson,” Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” and Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry.” On stage, Williams joined fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of “Waiting for Godot.”
Italie reported from New York.