Robin Williams has been found dead, aged 63, in an apparent suicide.

Marin County Police in California said Williams was pronounced dead at his home after officials responded to an emergency call around noon local time.

Williams was famous for films such as Good Morning Vietnam and won an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting.

His publicist said he had been “battling severe depression”.

The news when it came was both shocking and devastating in equal measures. The lovable clown’s well documented difficulties with alcohol, drugs and depression had seemed to us on the outside as something under control.

Those of us of a certain age can’t remember a life before Robin Williams, whether it was the “Na Nu Na Nu” of Mork and Mindy, the unscripted genius of Good Morning Vietman or the pathos of the father so desperate to see his children that he dressed in drag and impersonated a beloved Scottish nanny Mrs Doubtfire. Robin Williams taught us that a life without laughter was a life unlived. More than that however, his straight acting roles showed a deep understanding of that dark side of life that catches us all at some point or another.

Those who knew him personally say what a giving, loving individual he was and that he spent time with everyone on set or even with randomly met strangers while he was out and about. He seemed to be genuinely aware of how loved he was and considered himself lucky to be able to connect with so many people on so many levels.

His performances will be what remain for the rest of us.

My personal favourites are:

Mork and Mindy

Dead Poets Society

The Birdcage

Night at the Museum

Moscow on the Hudson

and his voiceover work on animations such as Aladdin and Happy Feet.

Farewell, Robin and thanks for all the laughs. Genie, you’re free.

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