Robin Williams heartbreakingly confessed to loved ones, he’d forgotten ‘how to be funny’ just before his death in 2014.
It’s been nearly four years since the world was left shocked, when reports came flooding in the popular comedic actor, Williams, had taken his own life at his home in California, at the age of 63.
Now, a new book has revealed all about Williams’ final days, chronicling how his mind and body faded as he battled with the disease, diffuse Lewy body dementia.
People who have Lewy body dementia – the second most common form of progressive dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease – are able to form new memories but have difficulties retrieving them.
With no known cure, the disease begins by affecting memory, leading to physical stiffness before extreme personality changes, psychiatric symptoms and eventually, death.
As reported by the New York Post, biography Robin, written by Dave Itzkoff, reveals how this affected Williams.
During the filming of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb in 2014, Williams was unable to remember lines, which hit him hard.
Makeup artist Cheri Minns recalled:
He was sobbing in my arms at the end of every day. It was horrible. Horrible.
I said to his people, ‘I’m a makeup artist. I don’t have the capacity to deal with what’s happening to him.’
When Minns suggested to Williams’ a return to stand-up to reclaim some of his lost confidence, his response was heartbreaking.
He just cried and said, ‘I can’t, Cheri. I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to be funny.
The book states:
The reality — though Robin didn’t know it — was that he was suffering from a pernicious neurodegenerative disease that was in the process of robbing him of his talents, his brain and his very self.
As his symptoms worsened over time, Williams began developing a tremor in his left hand, which at the time, was attributed to a shoulder injury.
His third wife and widow, Susan Schneider, describes how thing only got worse from there:
It was like playing whack-a-mole. Which symptom is it this month? I thought, is my husband a hypochondriac?
We’re chasing it and there’s no answers, and by now we’d tried everything.
Others also noticed Williams dropping weight, stooping and developing a tremor in his voice.
After having a severe panic attack in 2014 on the set of Night at the Museum, Williams was placed on anti-psychotic medication before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in May.
This degenerative disorder, which impairs motor functioning, ‘scared’ Williams who kept the diagnosis close to his chest.
His close friend Billy Crystal said:
I never heard him afraid like that before. This was the boldest comedian I ever met — the boldest artist I ever met. But this was just a scared man.
Months later, after his suicide, an autopsy revealed Williams was suffering from diffuse Lewy body dementia.
His death is still as raw as ever today. Rest in peace.
To find out more about Lewy body dementia, you can visit Alzheimer’s Society’s website.
If you or someone know you is affected by any mental health issue then you can contact the charity Mind on 0300 123 3393 or visit their website.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.