COMEDY star Robin Williams has been found dead in his home in California following an apparent suicide, police have said.
The 63-year-old - who shot to fame in the 1970's in Mork & Mindy and later became a box office star in such films as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and Mrs Doubtfire - had recently been in rehabilitation.
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Robin Williams on the set of ABCs "Mork and Mindy."
He had fought a lifetime addiction to drugs and alcohol and was also battling the effects of severe depression.
In a statement his wife Susan Schneider said: "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. 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."
Flowers are placed in memory of actor/comedian Robin Williams on his Walk of Fame star in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.
Mara Buxbaum, the star's press representative, said that Williams had been battling severe depression of late.
A spokesman for Marin County Sherriff's Office said its Coroner Division suspected his death was a suicide due to asphyxia but that a detailed investigation would be carried out before a final determination could be made.
Police were called to Williams' home in the town of Tiburon at 11.55am local time yesterday (7.55pm Brtitish Summer Time) after receiving a call that a man was unconscious and not breathing.
Emergency services were quickly on the scene but the actor was pronounced dead at 12.03pm, the Sherriff's Office said.
US President Barack Obama led the tributes saying: "Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nannie, a president, a professor,a bangarang Peter Pan and everything inbetween. 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 those marginalised on our own streets.
"The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin's family, his friends and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."
Kevin Spacey, who appeared in the 2009 film Shrink with Williams tweeted: "Robin Williams made the world laugh & think. I will remember and honor that. A great man, an artist and friend. I will miss him beyond measure."
William's Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver said: "My heart's broken. Robin was a beautiful kind soul."
Director Steven Spielberg, who worked with Williams on Hook, said: "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 is gone."
Robin Williams holding his Oscar high backstage at the 70th Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles after won Best Supporting Actor for "Good Will Hunting."