Robin Williams, manic comedy star, dead at 63

Ricardo DeAratanha: Los Angeles Times Robin Williams died on Monday. He was 63. Here, the actor is pictured on the set of "The Crazy Ones" at 20th Century Fox Studios in November 2013.

Ricardo DeAratanha: Los Angeles Times
Robin Williams died on Monday. He was 63. Here, the actor is pictured on the set of “The Crazy Ones” at 20th Century Fox Studios in November 2013.

Staff and wire reports

Robin Williams, a brilliant shapeshifter who could channel his frenetic energy into delightful 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 San Francisco Bay Area home Monday, according to the sheriff’s office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff’s office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia. The Marin County coroner’s office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff’s Department shortly before noon Monday.

Williams had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety. From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork & Mindy,” through his standup act and such films as “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast and manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.

Here is a sampling of reactions posted to thePNT Facebook site about the passing of the comedic giant:

“So sad that Robin couldn’t feel the outpouring of love that millions have shown on his passing. Mental illness and depression are blind to that love. I for one will always have a place for Robin in my heart.”

— Elly Marez

“So incredibly sad! I would rank him in the top 5 best comedians of all time although his best role was “Good Will Hunting !” What a tragic loss of a life that made so many laugh, a life still filled with so much potential! May he rest in peace. ….”

— Marlena Arguello

“So sad and still unbelievable. He was the one of the greatest of comedians. He will be sorely missed. Bless his family.”

— Janice Hardin

“He was by far one of the best. It is so sad he didn’t know how he was so loved!:-( RIP MORK”

— Linda Strachan Fitzpatrick