Oscar-winning American actor Robin Williams was found dead at his home in northern California on Monday morning in what the authorities are treating as a suspected suicide.
Officials from the coroner's office said his death was due to asphyxia by hanging.
The sheriff’s office said it had received an emergency call about noon local time on Monday, saying that Williams was unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco. His body was found by his personal assistant.
Williams's press representative, Mara Buxbaum, said he had been battling severe depression recently.
"This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time," Buxbaum said.
Last month the 63-year-old “Good Will Hunting” actor, who has struggled with addiction in the past, entered a Minnesota rehabilitation centre. His representatives at the time said Williams was not using drugs or alcohol but had gone to the centre to “fine-tune and focus” his sobriety after working a longer-than-usual schedule.
Williams’s wife, Susan Schneider, urged his millions of fans to remember his genius for creating laughter.
"This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings," said Schneider. She became the actor's third wife when the couple married in 2011.
"I am utterly heartbroken.... 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."
US President Barack Obama paid tribute to him as "one of a kind" while Hollywood director Steven Spielberg hailed Williams, a close friend, as a "lightning storm of comic genius".
Fans worldwide united in grief via social media, with #RobinWilliams trending on Twitter throughout the day.
Fellow comedic actor Steve Martin said in a tweet: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
One of the most beloved American entertainers of his generation, Williams rose to fame in the iconic US television sitcom "Mork & Mindy".
He later reeled off a string of big-screen hits, which included 1987's "Good Morning Vietnam", where he played a motor-mouth US military disc jockey; 1989's "Dead Poets Society" as a maverick English teacher; and 1997's "Good Will Hunting", which earned him an Oscar for best supporting actor.
Williams's last tweet was on July 31 to congratulate his daughter Zelda on her birthday and post an Instagram photo of the two of them, taken when she was a toddler.
He wrote: "#tbt and Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!"
Zelda Williams wrote a tribute to her father Tuesday on Twitter with a quote from "The Little Prince", the classic book by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them … In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night … You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”
She ended the tweet with her own words: “I love you. I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up.”
Williams is survived by third wife Schneider and three children – Zelda, Zachary and Cody – all of them in their 20s.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-08-12