Parkinson’s haunted sober Robin Williams


Robin Williams was coping with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease and remained sober before he died Monday, his wife said in a statement Thursday.

Williams, 63, was found dead in his home outside of Tiburon just before noon Monday after apparently killing himself overnight, according to the Marin County coroner’s bureau.

His wife, Susan Schneider, who was the last person to see Williams alive on Sunday night, said today that he was struggling with mental health issues but remained sober:

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”

Williams’ struggles with drug and alcohol abuse were publicly documented throughout his life and he reportedly had entered a rehab facility earlier this summer.

Williams was a beloved actor and comedian with a long television and movie career. He broke out in the 1970s TV show “Mork and Mindy,” won an Academy Award for his role in the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting” and delighted children with his voice work as the Genie in the Disney cartoon classic “Aladdin.”

Among his starring roles were several movies set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, including the comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Williams had deep Bay Area ties, having moved as a teen to Marin County, where he attended Redwood High School in Larkspur and later the College of Marin for theater. He was active in San Francisco’s comedy scene and owned a home in the city’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.

In addition to his wife, Williams is also survived by his sons Zak and Cody and daughter Zelda.

News of his death shocked people throughout the nation and spontaneous memorials have sprung up throughout the Bay Area and beyond, as well as memories and condolences shared on social media.

Schneider said today:

“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. … Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops in the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid. … 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. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.”

Many have found the manner and details of his death particularly shocking and Schneider said that Williams’ family hopes that others facing similar struggles find help.

Schneider added:

“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.”

There are 24-hour hotlines available nationwide for anyone coping with depression or suicidal thoughts. The Bay Area Suicide and Crisis Intervention Alliance provides regional 24-hour hotlines for suicidal individuals.

In Alameda County the number is (800) 309-2131, in Contra Costa County it’s (800) 833-2900, in Marin County (415) 499-1100, in San Francisco (415) 781-0500 and in San Mateo County it’s (650) 579-0359.

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