Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Farewell to Heath Ledger

-smh.com

Heath Ledger, the Australian-born actor whose breakthrough role as a gay cowboy in the 2005 movie "Brokeback Mountain" earned him a nomination for an Academy Award, was found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan with sleeping pills near his body, the police said.

The police said Mr. Ledger, 28, was found naked on the floor near the bed in an apartment in SoHo that he had been renting. The chief police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police did not suspect foul play.

“There was no indication of a disturbance,” he said, adding that there were no signs that Mr. Ledger had been drinking. Nor were any illegal drugs found in the loft, which takes up the entire fourth floor. Neighbors said Mr. Ledger had occupied it for several months.

Police officials said that a bottle of prescription sleeping pills was found on a nearby night table, but that they did not know whether the pills had anything to do with Mr. Ledger’s death. Officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

Mr. Browne said no obvious indication of suicide, like a note, was found in the bedroom.

Mr. Ledger had become a familiar figure in his SoHo neighborhood — and something of a fixture in gossip columns — since moving there after he broke up with the actress Michelle Williams who played his wife in “Brokeback Mountain.”

There were reports of hand-holding and lip-locking with various actresses and models, and sightings at restaurants and cocktail bars. He had clashed with paparazzi in Australia, but in New York, where there is no shortage of problem-causing partygoers, “he certainly wasn’t one of them,” said Paul Sevigny, an owner of the Beatrice Inn, a West Village club that Mr. Ledger frequented.

“He was really polite and nice,” said Mr. Sevigny.

The police said Mr. Ledger’s body was found after a masseuse arrived at the apartment at 2:45 p.m. for her regular appointment with Mr. Ledger. A housekeeper let her in and knocked on the door of Mr. Ledger’s bedroom. No one answered.

The housekeeper and the masseuse pushed open the bedroom door and saw Mr. Ledger, unconscious, on the floor. They shook him but could not revive him, and then called for help, the police said. The housekeeper told officers that she had heard him snoring in the bedroom around 12:30 p.m., the police said.

-NYTimes


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