Comedian and activist Robin Williams dies at 63

Inspirational film star, comedian, and same-sex marriage advocate Robin Williams has been found dead. Initial reports stated the 63-year-old Hollywood hero had hanged himself after a serious bout of chronic depression in his flat in San Francisco. His wife, Susan Schneider, said: ‘This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken.’ The actor, who first made his name in the surreal sci-fi 1970s sitcom Mork and Mindy, had played a number of gay parts in his stellar career, and had used his stand-up comedian role to fiercely criticise homophobia. Williams, whose performance in Good Morning, Vietnam earned him worldwide acclaim, also appeared in the US remake of French gay classic movie La Cage Aux Folles – retitled The Birdcage for American audiences. In the movie, the Academy-Award winner played Armand Goldman – a gay man trying to disguise his sexuality to help his son and his girlfriend’s relationship with her prejudiced parents. The star also became an LGBT+ icon with his performance in Mrs Doubtfire, in which he played a man who rediscovered his personality – and self-confidence – by re-inventing himself as a female housekeeper. One of Williams’ last roles – in the movie Boulevard – was that of a reluctant gay man finally coming to terms with his sexuality. However, despite his willingness to take on gay roles – sometimes seen as a disastrous career-move for Hollywood stars – Williams laughingly rebuked those who thought he was gay himself. In an interview with GQ magazine, he said: ‘There are many websites that’ll go, ‘Oh, he’s gay – I know he’s gay.’ ‘Even our chef, who’s gay, was at a gay ski lodge, and some guy came up to him and said, ‘Robin Williams is gay.’ ‘He said, ‘No, he isn’t.’ According to Willimas, the chef was told: ‘Oh, I know he is…I know people who’ve been with him.’ The chef replied: ‘They should tell me, because I don’t remember.’ Perhaps to shock, in his charming but straightforward manner, Williams added: ‘I’m a big fan of the puss. ‘Always addicted to puss. ‘I came from one.’ President Obama released a statement regarding the news, 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. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams’

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