Genie, you're free!
July 2, 1951- August 11, 2014
On August 11, 2014, the 63-year-old comedian was found dead in his California home. The initial report released on August 12, the Marin County Sheriff's Office deputy coroner stated Williams had hanged himself with a belt and died from asphyxiation. A pocket knife was found at the scene and several cuts were found on Williams’ left wrist. The final report was released in November 2014 and revealed no alcohol or illegal drugs had been found in his system. Prescription medications were found, but in “therapeutic concentrations.”In a statement issued by Susan Schneider on August 13, she disclosed that her late husband had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which he had not revealed publicly.She also confirmed that the actor was battling depression and anxiety, and that he had maintained his sobriety.In November 2014, reports surfaced that prior to his death Williams was also suffering from Lewy body dementia, a type of progressive dementia often found in people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
On a full scholarship at Julliard, he decided to drop out and pursue his acting career. After his family moved to Marin County, Williams began his career doing stand-up comedy shows in the San Fransisco Bay Area in the mid-1970s. Williams said that partly due to the stress of doing stand-up, he started using drugs and alcohol early in his career. He further said that he never drank or took drugs while on stage but occasionally performed when ill with a hangover from the previous day. During the period he was using cocaine, he said that it made him paranoid when performing on stage. Williams went on to establish a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. He was known for his improvisational skills. Williams offered a lifetime of wonderful, career-defining performances, like in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “The Fisher King,” “The Birdcage,” “Good Will Hunting,” and the oft-quoted “O Captain! My Captain!” tearjerker “Dead Poet’s Society.” He was wonderful in all of those movies, and that’s not even mentioning the less critically acclaimed, but equally memorable to both parents and kids who watched movies in the ’90s, hits like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Jumanji.” Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards throughout his career.
News of Williams' death spread quickly worldwide. The entertainment world, friends, and fans responded to his sudden death through social and other media outlets. His wife, Susan Schneider, said: "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."Williams' daughter Zelda responded to her father's death by stating that the "world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence". Broadway Theaters in New York dimmed their lights for one minute in his honor. Fans of Williams created makeshift memorials at his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame On television, during the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on August 25, 2014, Billy Crystal presented a tribute to Williams, referring to him as "the brightest star in our comedy galaxy."On September 9, 2014, PBS aired a one-hour special devoted to Williams' career, and on September 27, 2014, dozens of leading stars and celebrities held a tribute in San Francisco to celebrate his life and career. Williams's rapid-fire improvisational style was an inspiration as well as an influence for other comedians, however, his talent was unique enough that no one else tried to copy it and that is why he will always be remembered and never forgotten.