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'Mensch, great talent, genuine soul': Steve Martin leads tributes to comic genius Robin Williams

'Our laughter was the thunder that sustained him'

Steve Martin has led relatives, Hollywood actors, directors and friends in tributes for the late Robin Williams, who has died at the age of 63.

The Oscar-winning actor and comic was found dead at his home in Northern California from an apparent suicide on Monday morning.

The beloved star, who appeared in hugely popular films including Mrs Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting, was last seen alive at his home, where he lived with his wife Susan Schneider, at around 10pm on Sunday.

Fellow comic and Waiting for Godot co-star Martin expressed his shock at his friend's passing on Twitter, writing: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

In his final posting on Instagram on 1 August, Williams had wished his daughter Zelda a happy 25th birthday with a photo of the pair, saying: "Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!"

Williams posted this picture of himself with his daughter on 1 August

Shortly after news of her father’s death was announced, his daughter Zelda shared a quote from Antonie De Saint-Exuprery's book The Little Prince, which read: "You - you alone will 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.

She added: "I love you. I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up. Z."

As word of his death spread, tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry have continued to pour in, with many describing just how much Williams loved to make people laugh.

One of the final pictures Willams uploaded onto his Instagram account

Arnold Schwarzenegger described Williams as "a legend", while Wesley Snipes said: "the world has been a better place as a result of him."

Actor Johnny Depp said "the world lost a legend of an actor and an extraordinary man today", echoing a sentiment expressed in numerous tributes.

Night At The Museum co-star Ben Stiller praised Williams' "kindness and generosity" adding "And he could not help but be funny all the time.

"He would do something as long as it would keep you laughing. He made many, many film crews laugh out loud before the audiences ever saw it

Williams shot to fame in the late 1970s as an alien in the US TV comedy series Mork And Mindy, which became the spring board for a career spanning four decades and roles in critically acclaimed films such as Dead Poets Society ,The Fisher King and Good Morning, Vietnam.

Pam Dawber, his Mork and Mindy co-star, voiced her sadness at her friend's passing with: "I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?"

Robin Williams in 1980 with Pam Dawber, his co-star in the Mork and Mindy TV series

Gary Marshall, the producer who cast Williams in his break-out role, said simply: “He could make everybody happy but himself.”

Comedian and actor Billy Connolly, a close friend of Williams, said: "Robin was both my friend and my hero, a unique talent and a kind and generous man; the world will be a much poorer place without him."

One of Williams' most memorable roles came in the form of a housekeeper in the comedy Mrs Doubtfire, a film that endeared Williams to the hearts of many. The film's director, Chris Columbus, said in a statement: "We have lost one of our most inspired and gifted comic minds, as well as one of this generation's greatest actors. To watch Robin work, was a magical and special privilege."

Director Steven Spielberg, who also worked with Williams on the Peter Pan spin-off, Hook, remembered his long-time friend as "a lightning storm of comic genius".

"Our laughter was the thunder that sustained him," he said. "He was a pal and I can't believe he's gone."

Actress Minnie Driver, Williams’ co-star in the film that earned him his only Oscar for best supporting actor, added: "I never met anyone who loved making people laugh more than Robin.

John Travolta, who starred alongside Williams in the 2009 comedy Old Dogs, said he had never known "a sweeter, brighter, more considerate person that Robin".

"Robin's commitment as an artist to lifting our mood and making us happy is compared to none. He loved us all and we loved him back."

Glenn Close, Williams' The World According to Garp co-star, said: "I am absolutely heartbroken. Robin was a national treasure and a beautiful soul."

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, with whom Williams also made a return to TV last Autumn in CBS's The Crazy Ones, simply posted a collection of photos of the pair together.

Williams will appear in upcoming film Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, playing the statue of Teddy Roosevelt who comes to life at night, and holiday comedy Merry Friggin' Christmas. He was also attached to a sequel to 1993 hit Mrs. Doubtfire.

An autopsy is due to take place on Tuesday.

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