Robin Williams, boisterous comedy star, dead at 63
Comedian Robin Williams, who will star in "The World According to Garp," is shown, July 21, 1982, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Zelda Williams, at left, and Robin Williams arrive to the premiere of Old Dogs on Monday Nov. 9, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Zak Williams and Robin Williams attend the Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine at Phillips De Pury on November 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Timo Wallets LLC)
Robin Williams with son Zak & wife Marsha during 'Death To Smoochy' Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zak Williams, son of Robin Williams, throws out the ceremonial first pitch as Zelda and Cody Williams look on before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Robin Williams, son Zak & wife Marsha during 'Death To Smoochy' Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Robin Williams with son Zak & wife Marsha during 'One Hour Photo' Premiere at Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Portrait of actor Robin Williams, Marin County, California, 1999. (Photo by Chris Felver/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: A makeshift memorial for Robin Williams seen in front of Carolines on Broadway comedy club on August 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
This Sept. 25, 2013 photo released by SiriusXM radio shows Robin Williams during the Entertainment Weekly Radio town hall in New York. The town hall series are becoming a programming signature at Sirius XM. (AP Photo/SiriusXM, Jason Shaltz)
Robin Williams in the kitchen in a scene from the film 'Mrs. Doubtfire', 1993. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
You're a grown man now and I'm so proud of you. A little bit of you will always be my "Mr Pym". Happy Birthday, @zakpym!
Happy Birthday to me! A visit from one of my favorite leading ladies, Crystal.
Robin Williams, right, and Susan Schneider arrive at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Robin Williams, star of the new film "One Hour Photo," faces photographers at a screening of the film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2002. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Actor Robin Williams, left, shares a light moment with fellow actor Billy Crystal prior to the 18th annual American Museum of the Moving Image benefit in New York Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003. The museum honored Crystal for propelling the medium of the moving image and having a profound effect on the industry. (AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin)
Robin Williams visits a sick child in a scene from the film 'Patch Adams', 1998. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)
#tbt and Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!
Comedian Robin Williams holds the Grammy for Best Spoken Comedy Album "Robin Williams - Live 2002" at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2003, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Robin Williams, left, and Christopher Reeve, attempt to hail a taxicab in New York City on Feb. 9, 1981. Williams went to see Reeve, who is appearing in the play "The Fifth of July", backstage after his performance Friday night. (AP Photo/Steve Sands)
Robin Williams reads to children inside the Scholastic Tent at the Tribeca Family Festival in New York Saturday May 8, 2004. (AP Photo/ Tina Fineberg)
Robin Williams, who provides voice work for the animated film "Happy Feet," races across Hollywood Blvd. after signing autographs at the premiere of the film at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Ben Stiller, left, and Robin Williams attend the premiere of "License to Wed" Monday, June 25, 2007, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Phil McCarten)
Comedians Billy Crystal, right, and Robin Williams, center, in association with a project called Comic Relief, present a check for the homeless to Governor Michael S. Dukakis, May 28, 1988 at the State House in Boston. The check is the third in a series totaling over $200,000, given to Boston?s Health Care for the Homeless project. Comic Relief President Bob Zmuda, rear, helps with the presentation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Robin Williams appears onstage at The 2012 Comedy Awards in New York, Saturday, April 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Emmy Award-nominated 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight (11:35 p.m. - 12:41 a.m., ET), packed with hilarious comedy bits and features a diverse lineup of guests including celebrities, athletes, musicians, comedians and humorous human interest subjects. The guests for TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12 included actor Robin Williams ('The Crazy Ones'), Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons ('Modern Family') and musical guest The Killers - also featuring Jimmy Kimmel Lives' 'Modern Family Feud: Kids Edition.' (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images)
ROBIN WILLIAMS, JIMMY KIMMEL
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 5: 'Breakfast Burrito Club' -- Left to Right: Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Zach (James Wolk), Simon (Robin Williams) and Andrew (Hamish Linklater) delve into each other'Âs personal lives while brainstorming ideas for an ad campaign, on THE CRAZY ONES, Thurs. Oct. 17 (9:01 -Â 9:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 5: 'Breakfast Burrito Club' -- Simon (Robin Williams) brainstorms ideas for an ad campaign for the breakfast burrito, on THE CRAZY ONES, Thurs. Oct. 17 (9:01 9:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1515 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Robin Williams, host Jay Leno during an interview on December 22, 1998 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Robin Williams, Zelda Williams and Cody Williams at the Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, : Academy Award-winning actor Robin Williams wears a clown nose as he places his hands in cement during his hand and footprint ceremony outside Mann's Chinese Theatre 22 December in Hollywood, California. Williams is currently starring in the critically acclaimed film 'Patch Adams' about a doctor who uses humor to help heal his patients. AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)
Arnold Schwarzenegger & Robin Williams during The 13th Annual Moving Picture Ball American Cinematheque Award Honoring Arnold Schwarzenegger at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, UNITED STATES: Academy Award winning actor Robin Williams signs autographs for fans as he arrives for the premiere of his new film, 'What Dreams May Come' 28 September in Beverly Hills, CA. The film, a romantic-fantasy based on the Richard Matheson novel, tells of one man's journey to other worlds to find the woman he loves. AFP PHOTO Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)
Off to the Emmys with my beautiful wife, Susan.
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Oscar winners Robin Williams (L), Best Supporting Actor and Jack Nicholson (R), Best Actor pose for photographers 23 March at the 70th Annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Williams won for his roll in 'Good Will Hunting' and Nicholson for 'As Good As It Gets.' (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Robin Williams is covered in paint in a scene from the film 'What Dreams May Come', 1998. (Photo by Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Getty Images)
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robin Williams arrive at the CBS, CW and Showtime TCA party at The Event on Monday, July 29, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
324574 35: Robin Williams stands with Matt Damon at the fourth annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremonies March 18, 1998 in Los Angeles, CA. Various actors and entertainers attended the ceremonies to honor the accomplishments of their fellow performers. (Photo by Russell Einhorn/Liaison)
FRIENDS -- 'The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion' Episode 24 -- Pictured: (l-r) Billy Crystal as Tim, Robin Williams as Thomas, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Nathan Lane and Robin Williams standing in pajamas on the porch in a scene from the film 'The Birdcage', 1996. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)
Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce, Kirsten Dunst and Robin Williams hold each other in a scene from the film 'Jumanji', 1995. (Photo by TriStar/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 23: U.S. actor Robin Williams holds his Golden Globe after winning for best actor in a comedy for his role in 'Mrs. Doubtfire' 22 January 1994. The movie also won a Golden Globe for best comedy film. (Photo credit should read DAVID CRANE/AFP/Getty Images)
Robin Williams and Tim Robbins in a scene from the film 'Cadillac Man', 1990. (Photo by Orion Pictures/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: Robin Williams (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Exclusive - Robin Williams is seen in the Green Room, sponsored by Audi, at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre on Sunday Sept. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for The Hollywood Reporter)
Robin Williams performs at the 6th Annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert for injured service members and veterans on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
From left, actors Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal arrive for The Face of Tisch Gala to benefit New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Comedian Robin Williams speaks during the HBO panel for "Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction" at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Thursday, July 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Getting ready for The Tonight Show with The Man, @jayleno. Jay got me my first paying stand-up job.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robin Williams arrive at the CBS, CW and Showtime TCA party at The Beverly Hilton on Monday, July 29, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
** FILE ** In this April 6, 2008 file photo, Robin Williams, left, and Ryan Seacrest embrace on stage at the "Idol Gives Back" fundraising special of "American Idol" in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)
Robin Williams introduces the band Genesis during the VH1 Rock Honors convert at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: Robin Williams (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Robin Williams kisses Ellen Degeneres at the HBO party after the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Lisa Rose)
Comedians Richard Pryor, left, and Robin Williams share a laugh at the New York Friar's club in a Friday Sept. 27, 1991 photo. Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, died Saturday. He was 65. (AP Photo/Andrew Savulich, file)
This undated image provided by 20th Century Fox shows Ben Stiller, left, and Robin Williams in a scene from their movie "Night at the Museum." The film was the top box office draw during the New Year's weekend with $37.8 million, a 24 percent jump over its debut the previous week, according to studio estimates released Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006. (AP Photo/ 20th Century Fox/HO/Doane Gregory)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Robin Williams and Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Heather Wines/CBS via Getty Images)
Robin Williams does a comedy monologue prior to making a presentation at the 68th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Monday, March 25, 1996. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
BACK TO SLIDE
BY HAVEN DALEY AND HILLEL ITALIE
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- He was the funniest guy in the room, something that made it all the harder for friends and fans to accept that beneath that reservoir of frenetic energy and seemingly endless good humor resided demons so dark they could push Robin Williams to suicide.
It was no secret that the Oscar-winning actor had suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression - he made reference to it himself in his comedy routines. But word that he had killed himself Monday at his San Francisco Bay Area home left both friends in the Hollywood community and neighbors in the quiet community of Tiburon that he called home equally stunned and grief-stricken.
"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 and comedian Chevy Chase said in a statement.
He was last seen alive at home about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Marin County coroner's office. Shortly before noon, the Sheriff's Department received an emergency call from the home, where the star of "Good Will Hunting," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Good Morning, Vietnam" and dozens of other films was pronounced dead.
Sheriff's officials said a preliminary investigation determined the cause of death was suicide due to asphyxia. Williams was 63.
"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," said Williams' wife, Susan Schneider. "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 had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.
Williams joked about that fall off the wagon during a comedy tour, saying: "I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open."
Likewise, when word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation's recreational drug use: "Cocaine is God's way of telling you you are making too much money."
His struggles never seemed to affect his talent.
From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show "Mork & Mindy," through his standup act and numerous hit films, the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast and 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 could do drama, too, winning his Academy Award as an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting."
He won Golden Globes for "Good Morning, Vietnam," `'Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King."
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."
"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," Spielberg said.
More recently, he appeared in the "Night at the Museum" movies, playing President Theodore Roosevelt in the comedies in which Ben Stiller's security guard has to contend with wax figures that come alive and wreak havoc after a museum closes. The third film in the series is in post-production, according to the Internet Movie Database.
In April, Fox 2000 said it was developing a sequel to "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Williams was in talks to join the production.
Williams also made a short-lived return to TV last fall in CBS' "The Crazy Ones," a sitcom about a father-daughter ad agency team that co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was canceled after one season.
As word of his death spread, tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry poured in.
"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 said in a statement.
Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother - by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club, and he was accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher.
Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.
"You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear," he said 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."
He unveiled Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, in an appearance on "Happy Days" and was granted his own series, which ran from 1978 to 1982 and co-starred Pam Dawber as a woman who takes in the interplanetary visitor.
"I am completely and totally devastated," Dawber said in a statement. "What more can be said?"
Williams could handle a script, when he felt like it, and also think on his feet. He ad-libbed in many of his films and was just as quick in person. During a media tour for "Awakenings," when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a "menstrual hospital," instead of "mental hospital," Williams quickly stepped in and joked, "It's a period piece."
Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, "Robin Williams - Live 2002," he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.
"You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, `OK, you can do more.' Maybe that's what keeps you going," Williams said. "Maybe that's a demon. ... Some people say, `It's a muse.' No, it's not a muse! It's a demon! DO IT YOU BASTARD!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THE LITTLE DEMON!!"
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 22.