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Robin Williams actor, comedian dead at 63

Robin Williams, the Chicago born comedian and actor who starred on stage and film has died in California at age 63 of an apparent suicide.

Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)
Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)
A memorial at Robin Williams star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Marin County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that Williams was found unconscious and not breathing in his home around noon Pacific Time Zone, Monday, August 11, 2014. The statement said the investigation into Williams' death is ongoing, but the coroner "suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia."

The Marin County coroner's office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff's Department shortly before noon Monday. Tiburon is located in the San Francisco area in Northern California.

A representative for Williams said in a statement the actor had been battling "severe depression of late."
"This is a tragic and sudden loss," Mara Buxbaum said. "The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Williams' wife Susan Schneider said in a statement she is devastated and asked for privacy. “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings," she said. "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 career took off in the late 1970's as an alien in the hit TV show “Mork & Mindy.” Later he would portray a charismatic disc jockey in the film “Good Morning, Vietnam” where he parodied stars like John Wayne and Keith Richards.

He accepted many versatile and funny roles throughout his more than 30 year career as a comedian and actor. He was comfortable being Robin Williams and made people laugh wherever he went. His most memorable roles were as a woman in “Mrs. Doubtfire” and as the cartoon genie in Disney's “Aladdin.”

But, Williams also had a not often seen dramatic, endearing side which won him an Academy Award for his portrayal of a teacher in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.” His roles in “Awakenings,” “Dead Poets Society” and “What Dreams May Come,” led to rave reviews with New York Times critic Stephen Holden who once said he dreaded seeing the actor's “Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes,” according to FOX News.

Williams won three Golden Globe Awards for “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Fisher King.” Williams was considering making a sequel to “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

His vast film portrayals included Robert Altman's “Popeye”, Paul Mazursky's “Moscow on the Hudson,” Steven Spielberg's “Hook” and Woody Allen's “Deconstructing Harry.” Williams starred with fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of “Waiting for Godot.”

Many Hollywood stars and friends were shocked upon the news of Williams' death and expressed their grief and remembrances of the comedic actor.

Actor and producer Garry Marshall who first cast Robin on an episode of “Happy Days” said, “Robin was hands-down a comedy genius and one of the most talented performers I have ever worked with in television or film. To lose him so young at the age of 63 is just a tragedy. I will forever be in awe of his timing, his talent and his pure and golden creativity. He could make everybody happy, but himself. He was my friend and it is rare that you ever have a friend that is also a genius.”

Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday, July 21, 1951. His mother, Laura McLaurin (née Smith, September 24, 1922 – September 4, 2001), was a former model from New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams (September 10, 1906 – October 18, 1987), was a senior executive at Ford Motor Company in charge of the Midwest region.

He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he was a student at the Detroit Country Day School and later moved to Woodacre, Marin County, California, where he attended the public Redwood High School in nearby Larkspur, California. Williams studied at Claremont McKenna College.

Robin left Claremont and attained a full scholarship to the esteemed Juilliard School. In between Claremont and Juilliard, he attended the College of Marin for theatre. He had two half-brothers: Todd (who died August 14, 2007) and McLaurin, according to Wikipedia.

Williams described himself as a quiet child whose first imitation was of his grandmother to his mother. He did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department.

In 1973, Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at Juilliard and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year; the other was Christopher Reeve. In his dialects class, Williams had no trouble quickly mastering dialects. Williams left Juilliard in 1976.

Throughout the years, Williams sought treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, but that never diminished his spirits and did nothing adversely to his career. People loved all of the personalities and different types of people he would portray during his career.

On June 4, 1978, Williams married his first wife, Valerie Velardi. On April 30, 1989, he married Marsha Garces. And his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, he married on October 23, 2011. Williams was a huge video game fan to the point he named his children after fictional characters Zelda from Legend of Zelda and Cody from Final Fight.

The exact cause of Williams' death is still under investigation and an autopsy is scheduled. Funeral arrangements are also pending at this time. The world has lost a very funny man.

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