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NEWS: Did Ledger Die Of Overdose?

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Did Ledger Die Of Overdose?

by The Associated Press

Posted: January 23, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET

Updated January 24, 2008 - 6:00 am ET

(New York City) To many who saw Heath Ledger in the last months of his life, the actor appeared to be happy, healthy and excited - "in a great place," in the words of one friend.

Which only made his sudden end feel more tragic.

Medical examiner's office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said the 28-year-old actor's autopsy Wednesday was inconclusive and that authorities would know more in about 10 days, when more tests are expected to be complete.

Ledger's housekeeper and a massage therapist found the actor dead Tuesday, lying naked and face-down on his bed, police said.

There were six different types of prescription drugs in the room, including pills to treat insomnia and anxiety, and an antihistamine, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

A rolled-up $20 bill was found on the floor near the bed, but New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said lab tests found nothing to indicate the bill had been used to snort drugs. Police also said no illegal drugs were found in the apartment.

Lee Daniels, who produced the critically acclaimed 2001 movie "Monster's Ball," in which Ledger starred, strongly disputed any notion that Ledger had a drug problem.

"The definition of substance abuse is really up to one's perspective," Daniels said. "I didn't see him as a drug addict. I saw him as someone who enjoyed life. I know drug addicts - he was not a drug addict."

The law enforcement officials said three of the drugs were prescribed in Europe. Ledger had recently been filming in London.

Ledger told The New York Times in November that working on the films "The Dark Knight" and "I'm Not There" had been stressful, and that he was struggling with sleeplessness and had taken the sleep aid Ambien.

Daniels also said the Australian-born actor was in great spirits when they saw each other a few months ago.

"He was in a good mood, he was in a great place ... he was excited about living in New York," Daniels said.

Police said Ledger probably died between 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. At 1 p.m., the housekeeper went into his bedroom to change a light bulb, saw him sleeping and heard him snoring.

"I didn't think anything was wrong," the housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, told the New York Post. She said she was "still shaking" and unable to sleep a day after the actor's death.

At 2:45 p.m., the massage therapist showed up for Ledger's appointment, knocked on his door and got no answer. She later noticed Ledger was unconscious and called actress Mary-Kate Olsen, whose number was programmed into Ledger's cell phone, to seek advice, police said.

Olsen said she would send over her private security. In the ensuing moments, the massage therapist realized that Ledger might be dead, called Olsen again, and then called 911. Paramedics - and Olsen's security people - arrived minutes later.

News of the death stunned family, fans and colleagues.

"Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life," said Ang Lee, who directed Ledger to an Oscar nomination in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain." "He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined - a thirst for life, for love and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking."

Before moving to Manhattan, Ledger lived with then-girlfriend Michelle Williams in a four-story, sage-green Brooklyn brownstone with a black wrought-iron fence. Ledger was a frequent guest at the Brawta Caribbean Cafe two blocks from the house, owner Jennifer Ewers said.

"He was a perfect gentleman. He comes in here with his hoodie on, reads a book, and gives you a peace sign," she said. "He was always with his daughter, playing hide-and-seek among the plants, or on his skateboard, peeking his head in."

Fans left flowers and candles Wednesday outside the Brooklyn home and Ledger's apartment in Manhattan's tony SoHo neighborhood. Khaled Ali, 41, a stage manager for a Broadway show, dropped off a candle at the apartment building on his way to work, saying he and fellow cast members were devastated.

"I felt a connection with him as an actor, as a fellow in the theater community," he said. "With 'Brokeback Mountain' he touched me personally in telling the story of my community. It was very touching."

Intense roles became Ledger's trademark soon after he got his start in such teen movies as "10 Things I Hate About You." He buried his Australian accent and downplayed his leading-man looks as a sexually confused cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain," a drug addict in "Candy," and an incarnation of Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There."

His role as the Joker in the upcoming Batman movie "The Dark Knight" may be his final finished performance.

Ledger split last year with Williams, who played his wife in "Brokeback." The two had a daughter, the now 2-year-old Matilda.

Williams and Matilda returned to their Brooklyn home Wednesday evening from Trollhattan, Sweden. The 27-year-old actress had been there shooting scenes for the upcoming film "Mammoth," said Martin Stromberg, a spokesman for film production company Memfis Film.

Stromberg said Williams had gotten the news of Ledger's death at her hotel late Tuesday night.

Streams of reporters and a thicket of satellite trucks on Wednesday surrounded Ledger's Manhattan apartment, where some letters were piled among well-wishers' bouquets and candles.

One handwritten note on plain white paper read:

"Heath, how could anyone hate 10 things about you. We couldn't find one bad thing about you. God bless your soul, you're in our prayers."

?365Gay.com 2008



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GLAAD CALL TO ACTION RE HEATH LEDGER'S DEATH (click to view alert online)

Jan. 24, 2008

In the wake of Heath Ledger's death, people around the world are mourning the gifted actor's passing and are expressing their appreciation for how he changed hearts and minds with his Oscar-nominated role as a gay cowboy in 2005's Brokeback Mountain.

In a stark and disturbing contrast, Fox News Radio host John Gibson cruelly mocked Ledger's death and his role in Brokeback Mountain during his Jan. 22 John Gibson Show radio broadcast. During the show, Gibson played an audio clip from the film of Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, telling Ennis (played by Ledger), "I wish I knew how to quit you." Gibson then coldly quipped, "Well, he found out how to quit you." Then, after playing another audio clip from the movie of Ledger's character saying, "We're dead," Gibson mockingly said, "We're dead" and played the clip again.

?Gibson?s remarks are vulgar and disgusting,? said Rashad Robinson, GLAAD?s Senior Director of Media Programs. ?It?s sickening that Gibson would exploit Heath Ledger?s tragic death to promote such hurtful intolerance. And to do so at a time when family and friends are grieving shows a level of insensitivity that is beyond the pale.?

Beyond his mockery of Ledger's role in Brokeback Mountain, Gibson called the actor a "weirdo" with "a serious drug problem," and callously speculated on the reasons Ledger might have committed suicide. Gibson had previously mocked Brokeback Mountain--calling it a "gay agenda movie" on his Fox News TV program in 2006.

Gibson?s Past Comments on Brokeback Mountain:



GLAAD strongly urges you to contact Fox News and ask its representatives why they continue to provide a platform for John Gibson's cruel and tasteless comments.

Please contact:

Mr. Mitch Davis

Vice President

Fox News Radio Network

1211 Avenue Of The Americas

18th Floor

New York, NY 10036-8701

Direct Phone: *212-301-5800

Outlet Fax: *212-301-5455

Outlet Phone: 212-301-3000

Email: mitch.davis@foxnews.com

Mr. Robert Finnerty

Senior Vice President

Fox News Radio Network

1211 Avenue Of The Americas

18th Floor

New York, NY 10036-8701

Direct Phone: *212-301-5800

Outlet Fax: *212-301-5455

Outlet Phone: 212-301-3000

Email: robert.finnerty@foxnews.com

Ms. Irena Briganti

Vice President of Public Relations

FOX News Channel

1211 Avenue Of The Americas

New York, NY 10036

Direct Phone : *212-301-3608

Outlet Fax : *212-382-1411

Outlet Phone : 212-301-3000

Email: irena.briganti@foxnews.com

Contact by: E-mail

Ms. Suzanne Scott

Vice President, Programming

FOX News Channel

1211 Avenue Of The Americas

New York, NY 10036

Direct Phone : *212-301-8558

Outlet Fax : *212-382-1411

Outlet Phone : 212-301-3000

Email: suzanne.scott@foxnews.com







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