Sunday, July 20, 2008
'Joker' dies at 28
January 22, 2008, NEW YORK (CNN) -- Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday of a possible drug overdose in a Lower Manhattan apartment, the New York Police Department said.
The Academy Award-nominated actor was 28.
Ledger was found naked and unresponsive, facedown on the floor at the foot of his bed by a housekeeper trying to wake him for an appointment with a masseuse, said police spokesman Paul Browne.
"Pills were found in the vicinity of the bed," he told CNN.
"This is being looked at as a possible overdose, but that is not confirmed yet."
Browne later told reporters some prescription medications were found in the room, including sleeping pills.
But he stressed police have made no determination of the cause of Ledger's death -- that would be done by the medical examiner.
He said the pills were not "scattered about."
No note was found and there was no indication of foul play, Browne said. Ledger was found at about 3 p.m., and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel about 3:30 p.m.
A crowd of onlookers, photographers and reporters gathered outside the apartment building after news of Ledger's death was reported. Police officers were guarding the doors.
Browne said he did not know how long Ledger had been renting the apartment, which he said took up the entire fourth floor.
An autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office.
Ledger's family called his death "very tragic, untimely and accidental."
"Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him," his father said.
"He was a down-to-earth, generous, kindhearted, life-loving, unselfish individual extremely inspirational to many."
Ledger played the Joker in The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, the sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins, which was released on July 18, 2008. The Dark Knight was in post-production at the time of Ledger's death. Nolan has praised Ledger's performance as "iconic". David Denby, in his review in The New Yorker, states that Ledger as the Joker gives a "sinister and frightening" performance, which he says is the film's one element of success. Denby concludes that Ledger is "mesmerising" in every scene.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, in which Ledger had been cast in a major supporting role, was still in production at the time of his death.