Comic actor Robin Williams dead at 63

Matthew Reddin, Staff writer

Robin Williams, the Academy Award-winning comedian and actor who delighted generations of audiences with his rapid-paced wit and eye for roles that tugged the heartstrings as much as the funny bone, died Monday at his San Francisco Bay area home, of an apparent suicide. He was 63.

Multiple news outlets reported the death Monday afternoon, after reports from the Marin County sheriff’s office revealed the actor had been found unresponsive, and a preliminary investigation suggests a possible cause of death of suicide due to asphyxia. 

Williams had been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol earlier in his career, as well as his battle with depression. The actor had recently checked into a rehab center for long-term sobriety, and press representatives have reported the actor was grappling with severe depression at the time of his death.

Williams leaves behind three children from previous marriages, including 25-year-old actor Zelda Williams, and his wife Susan Schneider, who said in a statement Monday that: “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. … 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.”

To pick a signature role for Williams would be a tough proposition. Television roles bookended his career; he rose to fame as the titular alien on Mork and Mindy in the late ’70s, and recently played the patriarch of an unorthodox ad agency in CBS’ The Crazy Ones, cancelled this spring after a single season. But he’s best known for the variety of starring roles he played on film throughout his life: an inspirational teacher in Dead Poets Society, the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, the incomparable Mrs. Doubtfire, a loving father and drag club owner in The Birdcage, Matt Damon’s therapist and mentor in Good Will Hunting, and Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum franchise, set to release its third installment this Christmas.

Innumerable celebrities expressed their condolences alongside fans through social media, many sharing stories of their encounters with Williams throughout their careers. Shrines to the actor are also popping up across the country, with the most noteworthy built around a bench where a pivotal scene from Good Will Hunting was filmed.

For more information on suicide prevention resources in Wisconsin, click here.