LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Robin Williams was sober and suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease as well as anxiety and depression at the time of his apparent suicide, the actor’s wife said in a statement on Thursday.
Susan Schneider said the actor “was not yet ready to share publicly” his stuggles with Parkinson’s Disease.
“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid,” Schneider said in the statement.
The actor, 63, was discovered on Monday by his assistant. He apparently hanged himself inside his California home, although toxicology tests are pending and the investigation remains open. Investigators have declined to say whether Williams left a suicide note.
From an eccentric alien to an animated blue genie, a loveable British nanny and a fatherly therapist, Williams used his multi-layered brand of comedy to make people laugh.
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While the Oscar-winner’s death came as a bolt from the blue to the public, the actor’s longtime friend and fellow comedian Bob Zmuda said he was not “totally shocked” by the news.Zmuda, the founder of the charity Comic Relief for which the actor had helped raise more than $70 million, said that Williams had difficulty connecting with people off-stage and that even those who knew him well were unaware of how severe his depression was.
“Sometimes I would meet him one-on-one, he would be so uncomfortable, he really had no social skills, and that’s probably one of the reasons he needed to be on stage,” Zmuda said. “That was his life blood, that was his psychological imperative, and without that, he was pretty lost.”
Williams had faced challenges in recent years as well, especially after undergoing open-heart surgery in 2009 and when his TV comedy “The Crazy Ones” was canceled in May after one season. Despite that, he left several projects behind in the wake of his death, all of which are in various stages of completion.
Funeral arrangements for Williams have not been released. Earlier this week Broadway dimmed its lights in his honor, and the Primetime Emmy Awards announced the “Mork and Mindy” star will be honored during the Aug. 25 awards broadcast.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)