Heath Ledger found dead in New York

Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:58pm EST
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Heath Ledger, the gifted leading man acclaimed for his role as a gay cowboy in the film "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday, possibly of a drug overdose, police said.

The Australian-born Ledger, 28, was found face down and naked at the foot of the bed by a housekeeper at his apartment in the SoHo neighborhood, police spokesman Paul Browne said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene but no cause had been determined.

"We are investigating the possibility of an overdose. ... There were pills within the vicinity of the bed," Browne said, adding that the prescription medicine included sleeping pills.

The housekeeper found Ledger at 3:26 p.m., and tried to wake him for his appointment with a masseuse, who was also in the home, Browne said.

A medical examiner conducted a preliminary investigation and Ledger's body was wheeled out of the fifth-floor apartment in a stretcher, covered in a black body bag, about three hours after he was found.

Screen star Mel Gibson, who starred alongside Ledger in the film "The Patriot," said his thoughts and prayers were with the younger actor's family.

"I had such great hope for him," Gibson said in a statement released by his publicist. "He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss."   Continued...

<p>New York City Police carry the body of actor Heath Ledger from his apartment in New York, January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Marko Georgiev</p>