MARIN COUNTY (CBSLA.com) — Robin Williams, a brilliant actor who could channel his energy into comic characters like "Mrs. Doubtfire" or harness it into richly nuanced work like his Oscar-winning turn in "Good Will Hunting," died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.
Williams was pronounced dead at his home in unincorporated Tiburon. The Marin County sheriff's office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
At this time, an investigation into the cause, manner and circumstances of Williams' death is underway, according to officials.
Authorities said that preliminary information shows that Williams was last seen at his home around 10 p.m. Sunday.
Though officials said that they suspect the death to be suicide due to asphyxia, a full investigation must be completed before a final cause of death is determined.
Mike Walters, news director at TMZ, told KNX 1070's Jim Thornton and Diane Thompson that while Williams made people around the world laugh, he had suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression.
TMZ's Mike Walters
According to Walters, Williams had checked into the Hazelton rehab facility in Minnesota sometime before July 1 and appeared "gaunt and a little tired" in photographs taken of him at a local Dairy Queen.
"When we did that story, his representatives were very adamant that he had not fallen off the wagon," said Walters. "They had told us...he had just known that he need to be recommitted to his sobriety."
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"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 Susan Schneider, Williams' wife. "I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. 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."
Like so many funnymen, he had serious ambitions, winning his Oscar for his portrayal of an empathetic therapist in "Good Will Hunting." He also played for tears in "Awakenings," ''Dead Poets Society" and "What Dreams May Come," something that led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to once say he dreaded seeing the actor's "Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes."
President Barack Obama and his family offered their condolences to the Williams family and close friends of the late actor.
"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan and everything in between," President Obama said in a written statement. "He was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien, but ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh, he made us cry. He gave us immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most."
Williams also won three Golden Globes, for "Good Morning, Vietnam," ''Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King."
"I am completely and totally devastated, what more can be said?" actress and "Mork & Mindy" co-star Pam Dawber said.
"Robin Williams passed away this morning," said Mara Buxbaum, press representative for Williams. "He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."
In remembrance of Williams, flowers will be placed on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star Tuesday morning.
Williams also made a short-lived return to TV last fall in CBS' "The Crazy Ones," a sitcom about a father-daughter ad agency team that co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was canceled after one season.
"Our world has lost a comic genius, a gifted actor and a beautiful man," CBS network executives said in a statement. "We will remember Robin Williams as one of the unique talents of his time who was loved by many, but also a kind, caring soul who treated his colleagues and co-workers with great affection and respect. Our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, loved ones and friends."
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 22. Zelda took to Twitter late Monday to pay tribute to her father by posting a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince."
"I love you," she wrote. "I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up."
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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