The world has seen an outpouring of memorials - and its fair share of controversy - over the tragic and unexpected suicide of Robin Williams.
According to a just-released statement from late comedic legend Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death earlier this week, and he hadn’t been ready to share his diagnosis publicly just yet. The actor, who was also struggling with bipolar disorder and depression, died on Monday at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide by asphyxia.
Robin Williams’ wife Susan Schneider wrote the following in a public statement that comes via Deadline Hollywood:
"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.
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.
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.
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.”
Those who are familiar with the entertainment world might recall that Michael J. Fox has also been afflicted by Parkinson's disease, and has led a public campaign to increase awareness and to raise funds for researching a cure through his foundation.
According to the Mayo Clinic: “Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.”
There is no known cure for Parkinson's disease.
Certainly, this news will shade the events of the previous week, renewing a conversation about suicide, and starting new ones about Parkinson's disease. It is important to review the past week's stories about Robin Williams.
The popular blogger Matt Walsh was condemned for calling the legendary comedian's suicide a “choice.” Rush Limbaugh was misrespresented as having said that Williams ended his life because of his “leftist worldview” (he was talking about the media). Fox News anchor Shep Smith was forced to apologize after referring to the Oscar-winning actor's fateful decision as the act of a “coward.”
There have been touching memorials as well. KoKo the gorilla famously expressed its grief-stricken reaction upon the announcement of her friend's passing. Comedian Norm MacDonald tells a fascinating backstory of meeting Robin Williams backstage during Norm's first appearance on Letterman.
And the Broadway cast of Aladdin, with a little audience participation, sung a stirring rendition of “Friend Like Me.” The Oscar Academy memorialized everyone's favorite genie in a tweet that traveled the Internet as fast as a magic carpet.
Robin Williams will be remembered.