Robin Williams suffered from early Parkinson's at death: widow

Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:54pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robin Williams was sober but suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's disease as well as severe depression and anxiety at the time of his apparent suicide, the actor's widow said in a statement on Thursday.

Susan Schneider said Williams "was not yet ready to share publicly" his struggles with Parkinson's, an incurable and debilitating nervous system disorder that causes tremors and slowness of movement.

"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," Schneider said in the statement.

The 63-year-old Oscar-winning comedic virtuoso, whose madcap style and dramatic versatility made him one of film and television's top stars, was found hanged at his Tiburon, California, home north of San Francisco on Monday.

The news that the comedian also suffered Parkinson's disease has drawn attention to the correlation between the disorder and depression.

"While a diagnosis of any serious disease can be overwhelming, Parkinson's and depression can go hand in hand," the National Parkinson Foundation said in a statement following Schneider's announcement.

"Depression affects quality of life more than the motor impairments of the disease," the foundation said, adding that more than half of those who suffer from Parkinson's also experience clinical depression as part of the disease.

Actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali and singer Linda Ronstadt have all be diagnosed with Parkinson's. Ronstadt said last year that the disease had robbed her of her singing voice.   Continued...

A woman takes a picture of a mural depicting late actor Robin Williams in Belgrade, August 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Marko Djurica