We lost a national treasure on August 11 with the death of Robin Williams. :( I share the same birthday, July 21, and that connection always made me smile.
That Williams chose to take his own life is a horrible tragedy, yet how can we judge him? Not only was he suffering from depression, but also from the early stages of Parkinson's disease, a malady he knew all-too-well after making the film "Awakenings," in which he played a caring doctor who dealt with the most desperate form of that disease. He knew that any cure was a stop-gap measure at best.
Michael J. Fox, another actor stricken with Parkinson's had this to say:
Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace.— Michael J. Fox (@realmikefox) August 14, 2014
To some, Robin Williams will always be the inspirational teacher from "Dead Poets Society," or the caring psychiatrist in "Good Will Hunting." Some choose to recall his more hilarious moments, such as "Mrs. Doubtfire" or "The Bird Cage." My kids loved him as the aging Peter Pan in "Hook." But for my 70s generation, Robin Williams will forever be Mork from Ork, the whimsical alien trying to understand humanity while falling in love with Pam Dawber in "Mork and Mindy."
Williams was an entertainer first and foremost. Yet like many actors and comedians he put on a jovial face to mask his depression and anxiety. Whatever lesson we get from his death, one thing we have to understand - every human being has pain of one kind or another, and all the success in the world is often not enough to kick depression.
Sarah Michelle Geller, his costar in the recently cancelled comedy "The Crazy Ones" made this statement via People
"My life is a better place because I knew Robin Williams," Gellar said. "To my children he was Uncle Robin, to everyone he worked with, he was the best boss anyone had ever known, and to me he was not just an inspiration but he was the Father I had always dreamed of having. There are not enough adjectives to describe the light he was, to anyone that ever had the pleasure to meet him. I will miss him everyday, but I know the memory of him will live on. And to his family, I thank them for letting us know him and seeing the joy they brought him. Us crazy ones love you."
Actor Robin Williams was cremated and his ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay, according to his death certificate.
Williams was found dead in his Northern California home August 11 from what investigators suspect was a suicide by hanging. The certificate, obtained by CNN on Thursday, says his ashes were scattered off the coast one day later.
It also says the cause of death is "pending investigation."
According to Marin County Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd, investigators believe Williams used a belt to hang himself from a bedroom door.
Boyd would not confirm or deny whether Williams left behind a letter, saying that investigators would discuss "the note or a note" later.
The coroner's investigation "revealed he had been seeking treatment for depression," Boyd said.
Robin Williams was sober but struggling with early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday.
“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid,” his wife Susan Schneider said in a statement.
. . . “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."
. . . Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of brain cells that produce a message carrying-chemical, or neurotransmitter, that is important for movement. Symptoms can start with a barely noticeable trembling but worsen to difficulty walking and talking, depression and other disability. There’s no cure and the drugs used to treat the condition usually stop helping over time.