Lewis Diuguid

August 12, 2014

Robin Williams among list of entertainers who struggled behind the scenes with personal demons

Robin Williams is among a number of successful entertainers who behind the lights and cameras of fame, battled their own personal demons of depression and other mental illness topped with self-medication.

Robin Williams’ death on Monday from an apparent suicide shocked people. The 63-year-old comedian and actor was known for his roles in “Mork and Mindy,” “Good Will Hunting,” “The Fisher King,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Morning Vietnam.”

More recently Williams starred in “The Crazy Ones,” but CBS canceled that show in May. Williams is among a number of successful entertainers who behind the lights and cameras of fame, battled their own personal demons of depression and other mental illness topped with self-medication.

Standup comic and satirist Lenny Bruce was among them. He struggled with drugs before dying of a morphine overdose in 1965.

Jazz singer Billie Holiday was another. Alcohol and drug use complicated her career. She died in 1959 from alcohol and drug related complications.

Richard Pryor, like Williams, enjoyed a fabulous career as a comedian and actor. But he also was troubled by drug abuse.

He set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. Pryor recovered but was diagnosed a few years later with multiple sclerosis. He died in 2005.

Kurt Cobain was a talented grunge rock performer in the 1990s. He started the band Nirvana in that decade.

Cobain also struggled with drug use. He committed suicide in 1994.

The entertainment world and the people who adore the performers should do more to hear the cries for help, and then make sure the call is answered.

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