Robin Williams turned his razor-sharp wit and comedy genius into a legendary career. But in the years before his death, the skills that made him who he was suddenly started to vanish, and in August 2014 he took his own life after battling months of debilitating ill health.
Everything had been fine, but at a celebration for his two-year wedding anniversary to his third wife Susan Schneider on October 24, 2013 - seven years ago today - he complained that 'gut discomfort' was making him anxious. That discomfort was just the beginning of a long list of seemingly unconnected ailments that later turned out to be symptoms of a deadly brain disease.
On what would have been the couple’s ninth wedding anniversary, we look back at their loving relationship and Robin’s demise, which left Susan a widow at age 47...Following the discomfort in this stomach, Robin developed a resting tremor in his left hand - thought to have been caused by an old shoulder injury - stomach cramps, heartburn, and constipation.
He started having trouble with his sight and smell, he struggled to urinate, he was more anxious than ever and began having disturbed sleep. His limbs would sometimes freeze mid-movement for no obvious reason, while his voice became weaker, his posture less rigid. Sometimes he just froze on the spot.
He was hooked in a cycle of paranoia thoughts, waking in the night worrying that friends were in danger and anxiously obsessing about one thing after another, conjuring up delusions and suffering panic attacks. Finally, an answer came on May 28, 2014, when doctors delivered the news that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease.
What followed was a barrage of tests, medication, alternative treatments and even a stint in rehab - but still he grew worse. On August 11, 2014, Robin kissed his wife goodnight, retired to his own bedroom with his iPad and took his own life aged 63. An autopsy would later reveal he had actually been suffering from Lewy body dementia - an aggressive, incurable brain disorder that is associated with a higher risk of suicide. The second most common neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s, it is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's due to an overlap in symptoms, such as impairment of motor function.
The Hollywood actor was not discovered until the following morning by his personal assistant, after his wife had left the house to run some errands, believing her husband to still be asleep. Graphic designer Susan was Robin’s third wife and the couple were married for three years.
Prior to marrying Susan, Robin a reported $20 million loss in his divorce from second ex-wife Marsha Garces in 2008. He also was married to Valerie Velardi in 1978, but divorced in 1988 after a cheating scandal with a cocktail waitress, where the waitress sued Robin over a case of herpes.
Robin met Susan shortly before he had heart surgery in March 2009. She nursed him back to health after the major operation at his California home. After falling in love, the couple married in a star-studded wedding that was supported by Williams’ three children in 2011.
Celebrity guests including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Billy Crystal were all in attendance to see Robin tie the knot for the third time. Susan previously told of the last conversation she had with her husband before he hanged himself at their California home. He offered to give her a foot rub before bed.
She added: “I said, ‘It’s OK, honey. You don’t have to tonight.’ "And I’ll never forget the look in his eyes of just, sad, because he wanted to. And I wished… you know? Then he came back in the room a couple of times. Once to his closet. And then he laughed.
"And he said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’ And I said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’”