Robin Williams, Who Battled Drugs and Depression, Dies at 63

The Oscar-winning actor and comedian spoke openly about his decadeslong battle with cocaine addiction and depression.

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Robin Williams in 2013

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Robin Williams, the beloved actor and comedian, was found dead in his Northern California home Monday from a reported suicide. The Oscar-winning actor was 63 and had a history of battling depression and drug abuse.

According to a statement released by the Marin County Sheriff's Department and viewed by Fox News, Williams was found unconscious in his home around noon Monday. While the investigation into Williams' death is ongoing, the report noted that the coroner "suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia."

Williams was open about his battles throughout his 40-year career, noting in his 1986 one-man show that he struggled with addiction to cocaine and depression. He told the audience of his cocaine-induced hallucinations, and in true Williams form, he made his pain laughable. He found the funny part of darkness.

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Flowers and momentos left by fans are seen at Robin Williams’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Aug. 11, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif. 

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

And while the darkness followed him, so did success. A short one-off as the quirky Mork on the hit TV show Happy Days in 1973 led to his widely successful spinoff Mork and Mindy, NBC News notes.

With the success came the pressure, and Williams found cocaine while starring in his own sitcom. According to NBC News, the actor used cocaine regularly and was even with John Belushi the night he died of an overdose.

For the actor whose manic impersonations and improvisations in interviews became as beloved as the characters he was known for, the cocaine became a dark hiding place where the laughter stopped and the expectations lessened.

In 1998 Williams told People magazine that cocaine "was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down," NBC News notes.

Williams found sobriety around 1990 and, with it, more success. He was clean for 20 years and in that time received more accolades for his work. In 1997 he won an Oscar for best supporting actor in Good Will Hunting, and several nominations for an array of roles followed.

"I had 20 years sober before I relapsed," Williams told comedian Marc Maron during a candid 2010 interview. Williams would talk about his struggles with drugs and dealers who wanted to give the actor cocaine for free, like gift bags at a party.

Isolation in Alaska while filming a movie called The Big White proved to be too much for Williams as the darkness came calling, and this time he answered. He started drinking again and then everything started spinning.

"Even when I was drinking there," Williams recalled of his time in Alaska, "the bartender would be like, 'Aren't you sober?' "

In 2008 Williams told The Guardian that his drug use and subsequent relapse also fueled a shamefulness that was hard to shake. "You do stuff that causes disgust, and that's hard to recover from," Williams said. "You can say, 'I forgive you,' and all that stuff, but it's not the same as recovering from it."

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