Robin Williams, the Juilliard-trained actor and uncontainably exhibitionist comic who became one of the most dazzling all-around talents in show business, winning an Academy Award for a dramatic role in “Good Will Hunting” and Emmys for his stand-up work, was found dead Aug. 11 at his home in Tiburon, Calif. He was 63.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said that a preliminary investigation indicates the cause of death was a suicide due to asphyxia but that an investigation is continuing. His media agent said he had been battling depression.
Long fueled by an alcohol and cocaine addiction, Mr. Williams was a motormouthed and unpredictable entertainer in whatever medium he was working, whether movies, television, Broadway, or gala performances before Prince Charles of England. “In England, if you commit a crime, the police don’t own a gun and you don’t have a gun,” he told an audience, referring to the tactics of London police toward criminals. “So it’s, ‘Stop . . . or I’ll say stop again.’ ”
He was a satirist, an Oscar-winning dramatic actor and a mimic of everyone from Carol Channing to Jack Nicholson, from a British actor rendering “Hamlet” to a ghetto tough to Henry Kissinger channeling the morgue-voiced actor Peter Lorre. Mr. Williams delighted in singing Bruce Springsteen filtered through the voice of Elmer Fudd. He once said he took a crash course in Russian and was so good that he fooled real Russians into thinking he was one of them, “or else Czech or Polish.”
Audiences gravitated to his profane comic riffs on guns, drugs, God and politics. Of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder and Hollywood-action-star-turned-California-governor, Mr. Williams equated his branding as a moderate Republican to “a Volvo with a gun rack — you don't see a lot of them.”