Robin Williams takes up drinking after 20 years, then goes into rehab

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The Independent US

The irrepressible comic actor Robin Williams has gone into rehab for alcohol abuse, his publicist confirmed last night.

The 56-year-old Hollywood actor fell off the wagon during a typically busy year in which he has already released two films, with three more scheduled for release before Christmas.

"After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family," his publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a brief statement. "He asks that you respect his and his family's privacy during this time.

"He looks forward to returning to work this fall to support his upcoming film releases."

No further details were available, although one celebrity television show, Entertainment Tonight, reported that Williams entered rehab sometime during July.

When Williams was first making his mark as a stand-up comedian in the 1970s, he would make regular allusions to his drinking habits, and to the lure of addiction in general. "Cocaine," he once joked, "is God's way of telling you you are making too much money." He appears to have sworn off the booze around the time of the birth of his children in the 1980s. (He has three children, one from his first wife, Valerie Velardi, and two from his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams.)

His personal demons seem to have done little to halt his glittering career, which progressed from stand-up comedian, to prominence on the television comedy show Mork and Mindy, to a reputation as one of Hollywood's most reliable funny men, both on the screen and off. Earlier this year, he appeared in RV, a comedy about a family holiday in a camper van gone wrong. Another film, The Night Listener, in which he plays a radio host drawn to a listener who claims to be a victim of child abuse, was released in the United States last weekend.

Later in the year he is scheduled to be seen in Man of the Year, as a talk show host who runs for president; in Happy Feet, an animated feature in which he provides the voice of a penguin; and Night in the Museum, a fantasy film about animals and insects coming to life at a natural history museum.

No fewer than four other Williams films set for release in 2007 are already in production, including a sequel to Mrs Doubtfire, the 1993 hit comedy in which Williams' character donned women's clothing and secured himself a job as nanny to his estranged children.