August 15, 2014 in Nation/World

Widow says Williams had Parkinson’s

Actor, 63, struggled with depression
Lynn Elber Associated Press
Game will feature

virtual tribute

Robin Williams’ spirit will live on in the virtual world of Azeroth.

After thousands of fans petitioned the developers of the online role-playing video game “World of Warcraft” to memorialize Williams, the game’s lead designer said Thursday that Blizzard Entertainment planned to create a character inspired by the actor, comedian and avid gamer, who was found dead on Monday at the age of 63.

Williams was a notable fan of the popular fantasy series, which is played online by about 6.8 million people.

“We haven’t decided, but it will most likely be a character inspired by him or some of his favorite roles of the past,” said lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas at a Thursday event in downtown Los Angeles unveiling the game’s fifth expansion, “World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.”

LOS ANGELES – Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday.

In a statement, Susan Schneider said that Williams, 63, was struggling with depression, anxiety and the Parkinson’s diagnosis when he died Monday in his Northern California home. Authorities said he committed suicide.

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Schneider said.

Schneider did not offer details on when the actor comedian had been diagnosed or his symptoms.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Department, which said Williams hanged himself, is conducting toxicology tests and interviews before issuing a final ruling. Lt. Keith Boyd of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department did not return phone calls and email messages from the Associated Press seeking comment on Schneider’s statement.

Williams’ death shocked fans and friends alike, despite his candor about decades of struggle with substance abuse and mental health. With Parkinson’s, Williams faced shouldering yet another challenge.

Parkinson’s disease is an incurable nervous system disorder that involves a loss of brain cells controlling movement. Tremors, sometimes starting out in just one hand, are among the early symptoms.

It can also cause rigid, halting walking, slowed speech and sometimes dementia. Symptoms worsen over time and can often be treated with drugs.

Actor Michael J. Fox, who has long had the disease and is known for his efforts to fund research into it, tweeted that he was stunned to learn Williams had early symptoms.

“Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace,” Fox tweeted.

Pop star Linda Ronstadt revealed in 2013 that she had Parkinson’s and said the disease had robbed her of her ability to sing. Boxer Muhammad Ali, the late radio personality Casey Kasem and the late Pope John Paul II are among other well-known figures diagnosed with the disease.

Parkinson’s affects about 1 million people nationwide, 6 million globally. The cause isn’t known but genes are thought to play a role.

There is no standard test for Parkinson’s; doctors rely on symptoms, medical history and neurological exams to make the diagnosis.

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