Susan Schneider Williams, the widow of the late Robin Williams, has spoken out about the plentiful “misunderstandings” around her husband’s death in a new interview.
Williams, a beloved actor and comedian, took his own life in 2014 when he was 63.
After his death it was revealed that he was battling a degenerative condition, Lewy Body Dementia.
Speaking to the Guardian, Susan revealed that she learnt about his diagnosis after his death.
“The doctors said to me after the autopsy: ‘Are you surprised that your husband had Lewy bodies throughout his entire brain and brain stem?’
“I didn’t even know what Lewy bodies were, but I said: ‘No, I’m not surprised.’ The fact that something had infiltrated every part of my husband’s brain? That made perfect sense.”
Susan is part of the new documentary, Robin’s Wish, which follows the actor’s last few days with the explanation of his Lewy diagnosis.
“If my husband weren’t famous I would not have put myself through this,” she said. “But there were so many misunderstandings out there about what had happened to him, and about Lewy bodies. So this felt like the right thing to do.”
Previously speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Susan revealed how working on the film had helped her process the condition which took over her husband toward the end of his life.
“Armed with the name of a brain disease I’d never heard of, I set out on a mission to understand it, and that led me down my unchosen path of advocacy.
“With invaluable help from leading medical experts, I saw that what Robin and I had gone through, finally made sense — our experience matched up with the science.”
Robin’s Wish documents the actor’s final days as his worsening condition alarmed loved ones and colleagues.
Williams’ behaviour, friends and family members say, first began to deteriorate two years before his death.
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“I would say a month into the shoot (of Night at the Museum 3), it was clear to me — it was clear to all of us — that something was going on with Robin,” director Shawn Levy says in the doco.
“That’s an experience I’ve not spoken about publicly ever. We saw that Robin was struggling in a way that he hadn’t before to remember lines and to combine the right words with the performance.”
Comedian and friend Rick Overton recalls in the film that, around the same time, Williams began to skip his regular stand-up gigs at a venue near his home, the Throckmorton Theatre.
“There were a couple of shows where I was expecting Robin to be there and he didn’t make it, for one reason or another,” Overton says.
His neighbour John Hepper, who frequently saw Williams out on walks with his dog, was concerned about the actor’s rapidly changing physique.
“His ribs were actually showing (through his T-shirt),” Hepper says in Robin’s Wish. “I grabbed his skin. ‘Robin, you’re really getting thin.’ He said, ‘Yeah, boss, I’ve gone to the doctor, but they don’t know what it is.’”
The night of Williams’ death, his neighbour Hepper spotted him outside with his dog.
“Boss, I really need a hug,” he remembers Williams saying. “So, I gave him a hug, and he started to cry.” Hepper put his arm around the actor’s shoulder and spoke in depth with him for 15 minutes.
“He talked about family, and what was going on in his life and some things I think he felt that I would keep private,” he says.
Back at home that evening, as his wife was headed to bed, Williams said, “Goodnight, my love,” and went into his office with his iPad. Susan was thrilled because her husband hadn’t been reading lately.
The next morning, when Williams’ assistant tried to enter his office, she found the door was locked and quickly texted Susan: “He’s not up. What should I do?” Susan knew he was gone.
The police arrived and found Williams dead with no note.