A comic legend who came onstage to help introduce Elton at the latter's 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden--and who attended an EJAF Oscar party some years earlier--has died.
Sheriff's officials said a preliminary investigation determined the cause of death was suicide due to asphyxia. Robin 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."
Robin had been battling severe depression recently, according to 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.
But his struggles with cocaine and alcohol did not impact his career. The versatile star appeared in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show Mork & Mindy, and later was applauded for his role in drag in Mrs. Doubtfire. Also a cartoon genie in Aladdin, Robin's acting jobs included dramatic parts. He won an Academy Award for playing an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, for instance.
As word of his death spread, tributes poured in. They included Steven Spielberg, who stated,
"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."
Ron Howard commented: "We lost Robin - first witnessed his genius as he created Mork before our eyes in two hours on set. A Force. A Sweet Soul. A Brilliant Artist."
Pam Dawber said, "I am completely and totally devastated," Dawber said in a statement. "What more can be said?"
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 19.