News / Arts & Entertainment

Robin Williams Suffered from Early Parkinson's at Death

FILE - Actor Robin Williams, star of the new film
FILE - Actor Robin Williams, star of the new film "Old Dogs" arrives at the film's premiere in Hollywood, California, Nov. 9, 2009.
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 widow said in a statement on Thursday.

Susan Schneider said Williams “was not yet ready to share publicly” his struggles with Parkinson's, an incurable and debilitating nervous system disorder that causes tremors and slowness of movement.

“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 63-year-old, Oscar-winning comedic virtuoso, whose madcap style and dramatic versatility made him one of film and television's top stars, was found hanged at his Tiburon, California, home north of San Francisco on Monday.

  • Actor Robin Williams participates in the "The Crazy Ones" panel at the 2013 CBS Summer TCA Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, July 29, 2013.
  • Robin Williams presents a tribute to Jonathan Winters on stage at the 65th Emmy Awards at Nokia Theater, Sept. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles.
  • Robin Williams gestures during a panel discussion for his HBO show "Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction" at the Television Critics Association Cable summer press tour in Pasadena, California, July 30, 2009.
  • Actor Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of the film "World's Greatest Dad" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 18, 2009.
  • U.S. comedian Robin Williams, third from left, poses for photographs with U.S. soldiers at a U.S. base in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 20, 2007.
  • Actor Robin Williams (right) gets slimed by show host Jack Black at the 19th annual Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, April 1, 2006.
  • Comedian Robin Williams, wearing a camouflage jacket, entertains a cheering crowd of U.S. Army troops at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2003.
  • Comedian Robin Williams holds his Grammy Award to his ear as he poses for photographers at the 45th annual Grammy Awards at New York's Madison Square Garden, Feb. 23, 2003. Williams won the Grammy for Best Spoken Comedy Album for "Robin Williams Live 2002."
  • Actor and comedian Robin Williams (center) shares a laugh with rescue workers near the site of the World Trade Center collapse in lower Manhattan, Oct. 17, 2001. Williams spent time with rescue workers as well as surprising their wives with phone calls.
  • Robin Williams (C) sings the nominated song "Blame Canada" from the movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" during the Academy Awards, March 26, 2000.
  • Oscar winners (left to right) Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck hold their Oscars for their work on the film "Good Will Hunting" at the 70th Annual Academy Awards, March 23, 1998, in Los Angeles. Damon and Affleck won for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Williams won for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Actress Pam Dawber (L) shares a laugh with actor Robin Williams as they pose for photographers before the annual American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute dinner, Feb. 23, 1995, in New York.
  • Academy Award-winning actor Robin Williams, wearing a prop from his new film "Patch Adams" places his handprints in cement during ceremonies to honor him at Mann's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood, Dec. 22, 1998.
  • Comedians Robin Williams (R), Billy Crystal (L) and Whoopi Goldberg share a hug on the stage of New York's Radio City Music Hall at the end of HBO's "Comic Relief 8" show, June 14, 1998.
  • Comedian Robin Williams, who starred in "The World According to Garp," is shown, July 21, 1982, in Los Angeles.

The Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting star had been open about his struggles with alcohol and had gone to a Minnesota rehabilitation center this summer to “fine-tune” his sobriety, his publicist said in July.

Friends of the comedian, who first shot to prominence as a friendly alien in late 1970s TV series Mork & Mindy, described Williams as a man who masked his depression and thrived from performing for a crowd.

Williams' death, which has touched off a national conversation about suicide and depression, shook Hollywood and generations of fans.

U.S. President Barack Obama called him a “one of a kind” actor while directors and colleagues noted his humble nature, generosity and talent as one the most inventive comedians of his era.

  • Festival goers pay tribute to the late actor Robin Williams at a makeshift memorial at the 22nd Sziget (Island) Festival on the Shipyard Island in northern Budapest, Hungary, Aug. 13, 2014.
  • A woman walks past graffiti on a wall that shows late actor Robin Williams after he was found dead at his home in California, in Belgrade, Serbia, Aug. 13, 2014.
  • People pause by a bench at Boston's Public Garden, Aug. 12, 2014, where a small memorial has sprung up at the place where Robin Williams filmed a scene during the movie, "Good Will Hunting."
  • Visitors look at a photograph of Oscar-winning actor and renowned comedian Robin Williams displayed at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Aug. 12, 2014.
  • Flowers sit in front of the home of Robin Williams, Aug. 11, 2014, in Tiburon, California.
  • A photo of the late actor Robin Williams as Mork from Ork hangs with flowers left by people paying their respects, in Boulder, Colorado, Aug. 11, 2014, at the home where his hit 1980s TV series "Mork & Mindy", was set.
  • A person walks past the marquee of the Laugh Factory with a message in memory of actor/comedian Robin Williams in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • Robin Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is seen, Aug. 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California.
  • AJ Polis leaves a flower alongside a placard and a photo of the late actor Robin Williams as Mork from Ork, as people pay their respects at the home where the 1980's TV series "Mork & Mindy", was set, in Boulder, Colorado, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • Newspapers announcing the death of comedian Robin Williams are stacked on a newsstand in New York, Aug. 12, 2014.

“Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched,” Schneider said.

“His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles,” she added in the statement.

Funeral arrangements are pending, and a full toxicology report will take two to six weeks, local officials said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.