An Academy Award-winning actor and multiple Grammy-winning performer unparalleled in the scope of his imagination, Robin Williams, has died at the age of 63.
He died at his Northern California home Monday, law enforcement officials said. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.
“This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
Williams, who began his career as a stand-up comedian, recently wrapped his critically acclaimed, sold-out, Weapons of Self Destruction comedy tour as one of the most successful stand-up comedy tours of the year.
Over the course of the tour, Williams performed 90 shows in 65 cities in front of 300,000 fans across the country, as well as in London and Canada.
Since its launch in September 2008, the tour grossed an astounding $40 million. Weapons was taped over two nights at Washington, DC’s DAR Constitution Hall and premiered on December 6 on HBO as the network’s highest rated stand-up comedy special of the year.
Well known for his free-associative monologues and for pointing out life’s absurdities through his astute social and political observations, Williams’ previous comedy tour was in 2002.
In a statement , President Barack Obama on Monday night said William’s character touched “every element of the human spirit.”
He noted: “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.”
Obama added: He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”
Comedy fans and eminent persons across the globe have taken to social media platforms to express their condolences following the devastating incident.
Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in Napa Valley, California, ceremony in October 2011. Schneider sent a written statement to CNN through the representative.
“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.
“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.”
The deceased had battled drug addiction for several years.
Who is Williams?
After a 16-year absence from the stand-up scene, he hit the road and toured America with a critically acclaimed one-man show that became the highest-grossing comedy tour ever and culminated in a final performance filmed by HBO and broadcast live from New York on July 14, 2002.
The special, entitled Robin Williams: Live On Broadway, was nominated for five Emmy Awards. On the big screen, Williams was recently seen starring in the dark comedy, World’s Greatest Dad.
The film premiered to raves at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and Robin’s performance has been touted as one of the best of his career. Bobcat Goldthwait directed the film, which was released by Magnolia Pictures at the end of August 2009.
In 1997, Williams received an Oscar and Screen Actors Guild award for his performance as ‘Sean Maguire,’ the therapist who counsels Matt Damon’s math genius character in Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting.
The Academy previously nominated Williams for best actor in The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam.
Williams garnered a special honor from the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Robert DeNiro in Awakenings.
In 2004, Williams received the prestigious Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film festival and, in 2005, the HFPA honored him with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.
Williams’ filmography includes a number of blockbusters. In 1993, he starred in Chris Columbus’ Mrs. Doubtfire. For Mike Nichols, Williams portrayed ‘Armand Goldman’ in The Birdcage, for which the cast won a SAG ensemble award. In 1996, both The Birdcage and Jumanji reached the $100 million mark in the USA in exactly the same week.
Williams went on to assume the dual roles of Peter Pan/Peter Banning in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, to play a medical student who treats patients with humor in Patch Adams and to star in Disney’s Flubber.
In 2006, Robin appeared opposite Ben Stiller in the hit comedy, Night at the Museum. To date, the film has earned over $250 million in the United States alone. In May 2009 he reprised his role as ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ in the sequel, Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, which so far has earned another $400 million for the franchise worldwide. In addition, Williams’ award-winning vocal talents helped propel the Warner Bros. animated film, Happy Feet, to another $200 million box office, as well as the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
Robin Williams first captured the attention of the world as ‘Mork from Ork’ on the hit series Mork & Mindy. Born in Chicago and raised in both Michigan and California, he trained at New York’s Julliard School under John Houseman. Williams made his cinematic debut as the title character in Robert Altman’s Popeye.
Additional early motion picture credits include Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson, in which he played a Russian musician who decides to defect, and The World According to Garp, George Roy Hill’s adaptation of John Irving’s acclaimed best-selling novel about a writer and his feminist mother. More recent credits include Sony Pictures’ hit comedy, R.V., Barry Levinson’s political comedy, Man of the Year, License to Wed, opposite John Krasinski and Mandy Moore and Old Dogs opposite John Travolta.
In a departure from the usual comedic and family fare he is best known for, Williams collaborated with two accomplished young directors on dramatic thrillers. For Christopher Nolan, he starred opposite Al Pacino as reclusive novelist ‘Walter Finch,’ the primary suspect in the murder of a teenaged girl in a small Alaskan town, in Insomnia. In Mark Romanek’s One Hour Photo, Williams played a photo lab employee who becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.
Using only his voice, Williams created one of the most vivid characters in recent memory – the ‘Blue Genie of the Lamp’ in Disney’s Aladdin. The performance redefined how animations were voiced. Audio versions of his one-man shows and the children’s record “Pecos Bill,” have won him five Grammy Awards. More recently Williams lent his vocal talents to the blockbuster hit animated feature Robots.
Williams’ stage credits include a landmark production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Steve Martin and, most recently, a short run in San Francisco of “The Exonerated,” which tells the true stories of six innocent survivors of death row.
Offstage, Williams takes great joy in supporting causes too numerous to identify -covering the spectrum from health care and human rights, to education, environmental protection, and the arts.
He has toured the Middle East four times to help raise morale among the troops and is, perhaps, best known philanthropically for his affiliation with “Comic Relief,” which was founded in 1986 as a non-profit organization to help America’s homeless. To date, the overall efforts of the “Comic Relief” organization have raised over $50 Million.