The children of actor Robin Williams have paid tribute to their father after he was found hanged in his bedroom at his California home.
The Mrs Doubtfire star was discovered by his personal assistant on Monday morning after he failed to answer his door.
Williams, 63, was last seen alive by his wife Susan Schneider at around 10.30pm on Sunday before she went to bed, Lieutenant Keith Boyd, Marin County’s assistant chief deputy coroner, said.
She left their home in the town of Tiburon at 10.30am on Monday believing he was still in bed.
But his assistant found the father of three clothed, unconscious and not breathing in his room at about 11.45am, and after the “distraught” woman called emergency services, firefighters pronounced him dead at 12.02pm.
Lt Boyd told reporters in California: “Our indication at this time is that it is a suicide due to asphyxia due to hanging.”
The actor had recently grappled with severe depression, and yesterday Williams’ family were joined by giants from the world of Hollywood and politics as they mourned his death.
Ms Schneider said she was ‘utterly heartbroken’ and that she had ‘lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings’.
In a statement today, his daughter Zelda Williams, 25, said: “Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colourful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”
His first son Zak Williams, 31, said: “Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”
And his 23-year-old son Cody Williams added: “There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.”
Last night Lt Boyd said Williams had been suffering from depression and the coroner’s office had been investigating his medical history.
He said it was not known what time the actor had gone to bed on Sunday, and revealed a forensic examination found he had not suffered any injuries to suggest he had been ‘in a struggle or altercation’.
He also said he would not be discussing ‘the note’ or ‘a note’ as the investigation was continuing.
Lt Boyd said: “The preliminary results of the forensic examination revealed supporting physical signs that Mr Williams’ life ended from asphyxia due to hanging.
“Toxicology testing will be conducted to determine if Mr Williams had any chemical substances in his system at his time of death. Toxicology results will not be available for approximately two to six weeks while the testing is being performed.
“Please note this is an active investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of Mr Williams’ death. The final cause and manner of death will not be certified until the conclusion of the investigation which is several weeks away.
Shortly after the news broke, Zelda posted an excerpt from French poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince on Twitter, and in her statement on Tuesday added: “My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare.
“My last day with him was his birthday and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments.
“While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
“To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favourite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…”
Williams had battled addiction for decades and checked himself back into rehab last month. But his representative said at the time that he had not fallen off the wagon and was ensuring that he focused on his commitment to stay sober.
His second wife Marsha Garces Williams, who he divorced in 2010, said: “My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous – and yes, brilliant and funny – man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
Williams shot to fame in the late 1970s as an alien in the US TV comedy series Mork & Mindy.
But it was his role as an irreverent DJ with the US Armed Services Radio station in Good Morning, Vietnam in 1987 which won him huge acclaim. His roles ranged from serious and dramatic in films such as Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, to comedy in Mrs Doubtfire and Mork & Mindy.
He was nominated for an Oscar three times before winning an Academy Award for his performance as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting in 1997.
US president Barack Obama led tributes to the star, saying: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind.”
The Prince of Wales, who met Williams several times, also paid tribute, saying: “He was a remarkable man, whose wonderful frenetic humour brought a special kind of laughter into people’s lives.
“I greatly enjoyed meeting him on several occasions and his irreplaceable contribution to life will be greatly missed by countless people, including myself.”
Steven Spielberg, who directed Williams in the 1991 film Hook, called the actor “a lightning storm of comic genius” saying “our laughter was the thunder that sustained him”.
“He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone,” he added.