Category Archives: Entertainment News

Robin Williams’ wife says he had Parkinson’s disease

By RYAN GORMAN

Robin Williams’ widow has disclosed the late superstar was suffering from Parkinson’s disease when he took his own life earlier this week.

Susan Schneider‘s first public words after the sudden death of her 63-year-old actor husband came in a shocking Thursday statement, which confirmed he was still sober, but also made the previously unknown disclosure.

‘Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.’

Schneider’s words sent shockwaves around the world as people were stunned to learn of the possible motivation Williams may have had for hanging himself Monday. They were first reported by The Wrap’s Jordan Zakarin.
“Robin spent so much of his life helping others,” said Schneider. “Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines or comforting a sick child – Robin wanted us to laugh and feel less afraid.”

The grieving woman graciously thanked her husband’s millions of fans for their “tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration.

“His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly those fighting personal battles.”

The statement came only one day after Williams daughter Zelda quit Twitter after extreme harassment from thousands of people in the days following her father’s suicide.

Though no one will ever know exactly what Williams was thinking when he ended his life, this statement offered perhaps a glimpse into his final days.

“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.”

Robin Williams’ Estate Plan Spares His Heirs a Lot of Drama

Robin Williams Portraits

The life of comic genius Robin Williams brought joy to millions of fans, and his tragic death has sent shock waves throughout the entertainment community. But as painful as his loss will be for family, friends and fans, it appears that at least according to early reports, Williams took care of business when it came to setting up a solid estate plan.

Keeping Private Affairs Private

Celebrity estate planning is often bungled, and the errors get magnified both by the large sums involved, and the fact that their deaths play out on the same public stage that they lived their lives on. (Think of Philip Seymour Hoffman, for example.)

Despite having a wealth of advisers, many wealthy entertainers fail to prepare adequately to handle the transfer of their real wealth after their death. Williams, however, apparently used at least one revocable trust for the primary portion of his estate planning, and that will likely be adequate to avoid some of the complications and tax liabilities that other celebrities’ families have had to endure.

Most people think of wills as the basic must-have estate-planning document. But for those in the public eye, the downside of using a will as your primary document is that it’s subject to the probate process, which invites public scrutiny of court-filed records. Especially in California, where Williams lived, the probate process is notorious for being long and arduous.

By contrast, revocable trusts enable people to arrange for the disposition of their assets after death without any involvement from a probate court. And, the public has no right to see the trust document. It’s possible that we’ll never know for sure what any trust that Williams created said. Because trusts keep personal business out of the public eye, even family members who disagree with each other can choose to resolve disputes privately, if they choose. That can avoid the negative publicity of will contests and keep arguments from escalating.

Is a Revocable Trust Smart for You?

Apart from the different procedural requirements, revocable trusts also give you the ability to control how and when your loved ones will receive your assets. For instance, in many cases, parents arrange to have money held in trust until children reach a certain age at which they believe they will be able to responsibly manage their finances. These provisions allow trusted advisers to act as trustee and handle financial matters during the early part of children’s lives, and they ensure that children don’t squander their inheritance quickly and find themselves with regrets later in life.

In addition, revocable trusts can give you flexibility in making changes to your estate plan as needed without necessarily having the same level of formality that a will involves. Given that Williams was married three times and had children from different marriages, making sure that his estate planning was rock solid in the face of changing circumstances was particularly important. Sometimes, families will break up into factions following a death, and arguments can become contentious when the estate plan isn’t perfectly clear.

The downside of a revocable trust is that it tends to be more costly in terms of upfront fees than a simple will. However, unless you live in a state whose probate process is relatively simple, the extra cost in preparing a trust often pays for itself in not having to hire an estate planning attorney or pay court costs associated with probate proceedings after death.

Testamentary Trusts Are an Alternative

If probate isn’t an issue, then you can get the same protection that trusts provide by setting up testamentary trusts in your will. If you go that route, the trust doesn’t come into being until after your death, and your will automatically transfers your assets into the trust according to your instructions at that time.

One important thing to remember is that a revocable trust doesn’t do you any good at all unless you transfer assets into the name of the trust.

Many times, people make the mistake of creating a trust, but never executing the real estate deeds to move their home into the trust, or leave financial accounts in their own names rather than making arrangements with their brokers to have accounts opened in the name of the trust. Even if you follow the common practice of having a backup will that puts any forgotten assets into the trust at your death, doing that leaves you vulnerable to probate, negating one of the values of having a trust in the first place.

No matter how modest your estate might be, having the right documents in place, and your financial house in order, can make a huge difference to your heirs if something happens to you.

Robin Williams, boisterous comedy star, dead at 63

BY HAVEN DALEY AND HILLEL ITALIE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — He was the funniest guy in the room, something that made it all the harder for friends and fans to accept that beneath that reservoir of frenetic energy and seemingly endless good humor resided demons so dark they could push Robin Williams to suicide.

It was no secret that the Oscar-winning actor had suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression – he made reference to it himself in his comedy routines. But word that he had killed himself Monday at his San Francisco Bay Area home left both friends in the Hollywood community and neighbors in the quiet neighborhood of Tiburon that he called home equally stunned and grief-stricken.

“It was so sudden and he was such a great guy and it’s such a loss to the whole community,” said Daniel Jennings who lived across the street from Williams in the quiet neighborhood where the actor was often seen riding his bike and stopping to talk to neighbors. One thing he never did, residents said, was act like a celebrity.

“He was really nice to all the neighbors,” Daniels said. “Really appreciated his kindness.”

He was last seen alive at home about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Marin County coroner’s office. Shortly before noon, the Sheriff’s Department received an emergency call from the home, where the star of “Good Will Hunting,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and dozens of other films was pronounced dead.

Sheriff’s officials said a preliminary investigation determined the cause of death was suicide due to asphyxia. Williams was 63.

“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,” said Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider. “On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Williams had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.

Williams joked about that fall off the wagon during a comedy tour, saying, “I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open.”

Likewise, when word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation’s recreational drug use: “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.”

His struggles never seemed to affect his talent.

From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork & Mindy,” through his standup act and numerous hit films, the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast and manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.

He was a riot in drag in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or as a cartoon genie in “Aladdin.”

He could do drama, too, winning his Academy Award as an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.”

He won Golden Globes for “Good Morning, Vietnam,” `’Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Fisher King.”

Other film credits included Robert Altman’s “Popeye” (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky’s “Moscow on the Hudson,” Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” and Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry.”

“Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone,” Spielberg said.

More recently, he appeared in the “Night at the Museum” movies, playing President Theodore Roosevelt in the comedies in which Ben Stiller’s security guard has to contend with wax figures that come alive and wreak havoc after a museum closes. The third film in the series is in post-production, according to the Internet Movie Database.

In April, Fox 2000 said it was developing a sequel to “Mrs. Doubtfire” and Williams was in talks to join the production.

Williams also made a short-lived return to TV last fall in CBS’ “The Crazy Ones,” a sitcom about a father-daughter ad agency team that co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was canceled after one season.

As word of his death spread, tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry poured in.

“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,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother – by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club, and he was accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher.

Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.

“You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear,” he said in 1989. “Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it’s going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you’ve laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That’s what I do when I do my act.”

He unveiled Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, in an appearance on “Happy Days” and was granted his own series, which ran from 1978 to 1982 and co-starred Pam Dawber as a woman who takes in the interplanetary visitor.

“I am completely and totally devastated,” Dawber said in a statement. “What more can be said?”

Williams could handle a script, when he felt like it, and also think on his feet. He ad-libbed in many of his films and was just as quick in person. During a media tour for “Awakenings,” when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a “menstrual hospital,” instead of “mental hospital,” Williams quickly stepped in and joked, “It’s a period piece.”

Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, “Robin Williams – Live 2002,” he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.

“You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, `OK, you can do more.’ Maybe that’s what keeps you going,” Williams said. “Maybe that’s a demon. … Some people say, `It’s a muse.’ No, it’s not a muse! It’s a demon! DO IT YOU BASTARD!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THE LITTLE DEMON!!”

In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 19.

Is this a hoax? Bear walks on hind legs through NJ neighborhood

We’re not entirely certain that this video of a bear-looking creature shown casually strolling in a remarkably human-like fashion through the alleged streets of New Jersey is a hoax, but if the scene that YouTube user kber uploaded 1 day ago is in fact real, we do know that it is one of the more fascinating instances of bear bipedalism we have ever seen.

One of the details giving users pause as to whether or not this is a bear or a human dressed as one is the unusual gait — though one YouTube user suggested the creature in the video had injured one or multiple paws, which could explain the awkward stepping as well as the prolonged hind-leg posture to begin with.