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Robin Williams’ Widow Makes Scientific Sense of His Death

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Susan Schneider (L) and comedian Robin Williams attend The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
Susan Schneider (L) and comedian Robin Williams attend The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

Robin Williams became a star when Mork & Mindy premiered in 1978, and remained in the public eye for the next 36 years, starring in films like Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Aladdin, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting. It made his 2014 suicide all the more jarring for his fans, many of whom had literally been watching him their entire lives.

Of course, few people suffered as much as his third wife, Susan Schneider Williams, who married him in 2011 and was with him until his death. She recently addressed her loss in a Neurology article titled “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain,” in which she attempts to explain the medical issues that led to his death. She writes:

“This is a personal story, sadly tragic and heartbreaking, but by sharing this information with you I know that you can help make a difference in the lives of others… As you may know, my husband Robin Williams had the little-known but deadly Lewy body disease (LBD). He died from suicide in 2014 at the end of an intense, confusing, and relatively swift persecution at the hand of this disease’s symptoms and pathology. He was not alone in his traumatic experience with this neurologic disease. As you may know, almost 1.5 million nationwide are suffering similarly right now.”

While the piece is ultimately a powerful call for research into LBD, it’s an understandably difficult read. At one point, Shirley recalls when she and Robin found it impossible to deny that something was seriously wrong:

“Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it. Can you imagine the pain he felt as he experienced himself disintegrating? And not from something he would ever know the name of, or understand? Neither he, nor anyone could stop it—no amount of intelligence or love could hold it back.”

To read the full article, click here. To donate to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, click here. Below, David Letterman pays tribute to Robin Williams by reflecting on the 38 years they knew each other a week after his death.