BATTLING depression and tormented by cash problems, Robin Williams looked a shadow of his former self before he took his own life, a neighbour has revealed.
The tragic comedy legend had told of his misery at having to return to TV at the age of 63 and take on film roles he did not want because two divorces had cost him £20million.
One resident in the quiet community where Robin lived, thought to have been the last neighbour to see him alive, spotted the actor recently and said tearfully: “Robin looked terrible. He had lost all his weight and look exceptionally gaunt. It was as though there was nothing behind his eyes, just a shell.”
The Mrs Doubtfire star had put his beautiful California ranch with a five-bed villa and vineyard on sale due to the divorce payments to ex-wives Valerie Velardi and Marsha Garces. Friends also said he was an incredibly generous person who gave cash to help others.
And the dad-of-three, who had not been on TV since 1982 when he starred in Mork & Mindy, had returned as an ad man in the The Crazy Ones, which was dropped after just one series. Robin was also due to reprise his role as Mrs Doubtfire for a sequel to the film.
One source said the axing of the TV show sent the comic into a spiral of gloom. As officials confirmed the veteran screen star hanged himself at home, the insider added: “Robin slipped into a deep depression. He felt embarrassed and humiliated the show was a failure.
“It was very hard for Robin to accept. Here he was in his 60s, and forced to take a role on television for the money. It’s just not where he thought he would be at this point in his life.”
A family friend who recently spoke to Robin told a US website: “All he could talk about were serious money troubles. There were clearly other issues going on and Robin sounded distant during the telephone conversation. Robin was known for being so generous to his friends and family during the height of his success, and would help anyone out that needed it.
“There was also frustration Robin expressed at having to take television and movie roles he didn’t want to take, but had to for the pay cheque. Doing sequels was never Robin’s thing, and he wasn’t that excited at having to reprise the role of Mrs Doubtfire, which was scheduled to start filming later this year.”
Robin divorced Valerie in 1988 after 10 years together. They had a son Zachary, now, 31. He married Zachary’s nanny Marsha Garces in 1989 and they had two children, Zelda, 25 and 22-year-old Cody.
The couple split in 2008. Robin once said of the break-ups: “Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but changed it to ‘alimony’.
“It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet.”
But that did not stop him marrying for a third time in 2011 when he wed graphic designer Susan Schneider.
Robin was found dead by his personal assistant on Monday at the couple’s waterfront home in Tiburon, near San Francisco.
He was partially clothed and had hanged himself while in a seated position. He also had minor wounds on his left wrist and a pocket knife was nearby.
Lieutenant Keith Boyd of the Marin County coroner’s office said: “The preliminary results of the forensic examination supported physical signs that Mr Williams’ life ended from asphyxia due to hanging.”
There was no sign of a struggle, Mr Boyd revealed. But police refused to say if Robin left a suicide note or whether any drugs were found nearby. Toxicology tests will be carried out later.
The actor had fought battles against booze and drugs in the past but had been sober for 20 years.
Susan was the last person to see her husband alive on Sunday at 10.30pm when she said good night and went to sleep in a separate bedroom.
She left home the following morning at 10.30 without saying goodbye as she thought he was still sleeping, Mr Boyd added. Robin’s assistant became concerned at not hearing from him and went to his room at 11.45am when she found him dead.
He had not been seen in public since his birthday three weeks ago. His last picture was taken alongside Night at the Museum co-star, Crystal the monkey.
Tributes yesterday piled up outside his home as fans struggled to come to terms with the death of the popular entertainer, who had been seeking treatment for his depression.
Flowers, notes and a small white teddy bear were placed on the pavement that was packed with TV crews.
One letter in a child’s handwriting, surrounded by flickering electric candles, read: “I am sorry Robin Williams died. I loved Mrs Doubtfire. I heard he was a great and a funny guy. Love Fletcher.”
Daughter Zelda posted a moving tribute to her dad on her Instagram page. She posted a quote from The Little Prince writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which read: “You, you alone have the stars as no one else has them…
“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars are laughing, when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh.” She added underneath: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”
Distraught Susan said: “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 she spoke, friends and neighbours of the couple hugged one another on the quiet residential street.
One, who did not wish to be named, said: “I didn’t know Mr Williams personally, but I would occasionally see him walking his dog or riding his bike down the road.
“It wasn’t like having a celebrity in the neighbourhood, he was always very down to earth and very friendly to everyone. He wasn’t an active member of the community, he wasn’t in the local yacht club or anything, but he was always happy to say hello.
“He always seemed like such a happy guy on the surface. Monday’s news came as such a shock.
“It’s so sad. I feel terrible for his family.”
Fan Sabrina Hahnlein was on her way from San Diego, California, to Portland, Oregon, when she decided to stop off at Robin’s home.
She said: “Everybody loved Robin Williams. He had a charisma that drew you in. When I heard the news of his death it burst my bubble a little bit.
“It’s always the ones who put a smile on other people’s faces who struggle to put a smile on their own.”
While he may have struggled with his finances, Robin had made sure his children would be cared for.
In 2009 the Oscar-winner had drawn up a document outlining their payments but made sure they only received the cash in stages.
When they were 21, they received a third of their trust funds. Four years later they were given half of what was left.
The final instalment is to be paid when they reach 30. It is unclear how much is in the trust, but a US website reports there is a “significant” amount outside of it and Susan will receive a large chunk.
Robin’s 640-acre Napa Valley ranch is still for sale. It is in the Mayacamas Mountains, 90 minutes from San Francisco.
Five years ago, Robin appeared in a movie advising people suffering mental health issues against suicide.
In World’s Greatest Dad he plays a grieving father called Lance Clayton, whose son Kyle has a fascination with auto-erotica and accidentally dies by asphyxiation.
Looking to camera, Robin says: “I am not going to pretend that I know what is going on in the mind of a teenager. If you are that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”