Robin Williams’ death confirmed to be a suicide by hanging

August 12, 2014
Robin Williams

Robin Williams

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Robin Williams’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was transformed into a memorial today, while the Marin County coroner’s office confirmed the Oscar-winning actor and comedian apparently committed suicide by hanging.

The Hollywood Historic Trust placed a wreath of flowers on Williams’ Walk of Fame star, where fans paid respects to a man known for over-the-top comic performances that began on comedy club stages then spread to television
and the big screen.

Outpourings of shock and disbelief also continued to pour in from actors who knew or worked with the 63-year-old Williams.

“I’m stunned, beyond saddened,” actor Robert De Niro said.  ”Billy (Crystal) said it best. `No words.”’

Williams’ publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said Monday that Williams had been battling severe depression.”

Lt. Keith Boyd of the Marin County coroner’s office said Williams was last seen by his wife, Susan Schneider, when she went to bed around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. She left their home in Tiburon around 10:30 a.m. Monday, believing her husband was still asleep in a different room.

“Mr. Williams’ personal assistant became concerned at approximately 11:45 a.m. when he failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door,” Boyd said.  ”At that time, the personal assistant was able to gain access to Mr. Williams’ bedroom and entered the bedroom to find Mr. Williams clothed, in a seated position, unresponsive, with a belt secured around his neck, with the other end of the belt wedged between the closed closet door and the door frame.

“His right shoulder area was touching the door with his body perpendicular to the door and slightly suspended,” Boyd said. “Mr. Williams at that time was cold to the touch with rigor mortis present in his body. … The inside of Mr. Williams’ left wrist had several acute superficial transverse cuts. A pocketknife with a closed blade was located in close proximity to Mr. Williams. The pocketknife was examined and a dry red material was located on the blade of the knife, which appeared consistent (with) dried blood. It is unknown at this time if the dried red material is in fact blood or if it is Mr. Williams’ blood.”

Boyd said a forensic examination was conducted this morning, with preliminary results finding “physical signs that Mr. Williams’ life ended from asphyxia due to hanging.”

He said toxicology tests will be conducted to determine if Williams had any drugs or alcohol in his system, but those tests will take two to six weeks to complete.

Williams’ wife said Monday she had “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.”

President Barack Obama reacted to Williams’ death, calling him “one of a kind.”

“He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,” Obama said. “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. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

Henry Winkler, a star of “Happy Days,” on which Williams originated his breakout role of the alien Mork, said that “Robin Williams was like no other.

“To watch him create on the spot was a privilege to behold,” Winkler wrote on his Twitter page. ”Robin you are an angel now. Rest in peace.”

Garry Marshall, producer/creator of “Mork & Mindy,” recalled chatting with Williams on the Paramount lot near the show’s set late one night.

“Robin loved to stay up late and always had more energy than any person anywhere, in any room. I said to him that night, `Do you think we will ever grow up?’ And he said without missing a beat, `I’m afraid if I ever grow up, I won’t be able to make a living.’ Play was his passion and what drove him each day.”

Comedy legend Carl Reiner said:  ”Never has there been a more talented, more loved and admired performer. What a shame he left (us) as he did. You will be missed Robin Williams.”

Actor/comedian Steve Martin said he “could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

On the Sunset Strip, where Williams’ stand-up talents were honed, the Laugh Factory changed its marquee to read: “Robin Williams. Rest in Peace. Make God Laugh.” The nearby Comedy Store also posted a marquee tribute that simply read: RIP Robin Williams.”

At 8:30 p.m., the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard will dim the lights in its famed forecourt for about one minute in tribute to Robin Williams. The actor’s first film, “Popeye,” debuted at the Chinese Theatre, and he left his hand- and footprints in the forecourt in 1998.

A spokesman says it’s the eighth time in its 87-year history that the Chinese Theatre has dimmed its lights “in a major theatrical gesture of one showman saluting another.”

A Chicago native, Williams studied theater at Julliard before touring as a stand-up comedian, leading to his casting as the offbeat alien Mork from Ork on a 1974 episode of “Happy Days.” The character was so popular it led to
the spinoff “Mork & Mindy,” co-starring Pam Dawber.

He went on to a film career that earned him four Oscar nominations, including a win for his supporting role opposite Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in “Good Will Hunting.” He was nominated as lead actor for his work in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society” and “The Fisher King.”

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association presented Williams with its Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2005.

Williams most recently starred in the CBS series “The Crazy Ones.” He had a brief role as President Dwight D. Eisenhower in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” He portrayed another former president, Teddy Roosevelt, in a pair of “Night at the Museum” films.

His other films included “Patch Adams,” “The Birdcage,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Jumanji,” “Hook,” “Toys” and “Awakenings.”

Williams is survived by his wife, a brother, three children and two stepsons.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.