Heath Ledger, only months after filming his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, was found at 3:31 in the afternoon by his masseuse and housekeeper. He was naked and unconscious on the floor at the foot of his bed at 421 Broome Street in SoHo, Manhattan. There were prescription and nonprescription pills scattered all about yet there was no note. He was only 28 and by 6:30 pm, city workers rolled Heath’s body, enclosed in a black body bag, out of the building. Authorities did not suspect a crime but the big question was whether it was accidental or a suicide.
Heath Ledger was born to a French teacher, Kim Ledger, and a racecar driver and mining engineer in Perth, Australia. His parents divorced when he was 11. An avid chess player, Ledger won Western Australia’s junior chess championship at 10. While living in New York as an adult, he would often play chess in Washington Square Park.
When Heath was 16, he took a part in Clowning Around and Sweat, both television series out of Perth. His first Hollywood film was the teenage romantic comedy 10 things I Hate About You (1999). He also had romantic roles in the films A Knight’s Tale (2001) andCasanova (2005).
The role that brought Heath Ledger to the forefront for American audiences was in Brokeback Mountain (2005), where he played Ennis Del Mar, a man who has a love affair with rodeo rider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. This role earned him a nomination for an Oscar for Best Actor in 2006. It was while filming Brokeback Mountain that Heath met Michelle Williams. They became a couple, and had daughter Matilda Rose while residing in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. They broke up in 2007, and Ledger was then linked to supermodels Helena Christensen and Gemma Ward, and with former child stars Mary-Kate Olsen and Lindsay Lohan.
The weeks preceding Heath’s death are clouded in mystery as there are divergent accounts of his behavior. The day after Ledger’s death, the UK tabloidThe Sun quoted Rebecca White, who was a 33-year-old former assistant to Naomi Campbell. She reported to have witnessed Ledger taking drugs. “The first time I met him, at Puff Daddy’s house in Los Angeles, Heath asked Naomi for cocaine,” she noted. “At another party in Paris, Heath took at least six Ecstasy pills, popped them in his mouth all at once, and swigged them with a bottle of Champagne.”
White elaborated on her claims during an interview with England’s Daily Mail, saying that Ledger’s drug use had recently spiraled out of control because of concerns that he might lose custody of his daughter, and added this cutting comment about Ledger’s former fiancée, Michelle Williams: “Heath was an Adonis and she was dowdy and not in his league-career-wise or looks-wise-and no one could understand why they got together.” These comments were picked up by dozens of other publications.
There is also rumored to be a video first acquired by Australia’s Channel 9 of Ledger allegedly doing coke.
Contrarily, a New York woman who dated Heath from late September through mid-November never saw Ledger do drugs. “He had a party at his loft once, and it was really crazy. There were drugs there, but he didn’t touch them. I saw it offered to him multiple times. Ecstasy, cocaine, even prescription stuff-but he never touched it. I was with him at least a dozen times, and he was always sober. Just cigarettes.”
Heath did have trouble sleeping. In a New York Times interview, Ledger told reporter Sarah Lyall that his recent demanding roles inI’m Not There and The Dark Knight had negatively affected his ability to sleep: “Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night…I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He stated he had taken two Ambien pills, after taking just one had not sufficed, and those left him in “a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.”
Following his death, Ledger’s former fiancée Michelle Williams also confirmed reports of Ledger’s sleep troubles: “For as long as I’d known him, he had bouts with insomnia. He had too much energy. His mind was turning, turning, turning-always turning.”
Two pictures of Heath emerge: one of a loving, hip father who had trouble sleeping, and the other of a drug-crazed Aussie party boy.
There appears to be something bothering Heath in this interview from 2007, where he appears excessively twitchy and thin. Watch it and draw your own conclusions.
What killed Heath Ledger? On February 6, 2008, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York made its report public, concluding, “Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.” It states definitively: “We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.” While the medications found in the toxicological analysis may be prescribed in the United States for insomnia, anxiety, pain, or common cold (doxylamine) symptoms, the vast majority of physicians in the US are very reluctant to prescribe multiple benzodiazepines to a single patient (eg, diazepam, alprazolam, and temazepam). And this was a patient who was already taking OxyContin and Vicodin.
So in laymen’s terms, Ledger took Xanax, Valium, Unisom, Restoril, Vicodin, OxyContin-two downers, two sleeping pills, and two painkillers of a strength used for bone cancer. This would definitely lead to acute intoxication.
Ledger’s parents cited the pharmaceutical drugs as proof that their son was the victim of a simple prescription drug mix-up. “Today’s results put an end to speculation,” they wrote in a statement. “While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy.”
In the end, Heath Ledger’s official cause of death was a toxicological list. Much like the many tales of his life, we will never know the real answer-accidental or deliberate.
Actor Heath Ledger dies at 28. CNN.com. January 22, 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/22/heath.ledger.dead/.
Heath Ledger. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heath_Ledger.
Norris C. Untitled Heath Ledger project. New York Magazine. February 18, 2008. http://nymag.com/news/features/44217/.
Sewell C. The death of Heath Ledger. New York Times. January 22, 2008. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/actor-heath-ledger-is-found-dead/.
bishal 11:40pm, 11/23/2013
candy the real role he was playing…r.i.p
Amir 08:50am, 11/23/2013
The greatest to play the Joker`s role EVER.
Sheila 05:46am, 11/22/2013
We all start out drug free, Physical pain is easy to see its on our face,but mental pain is a torment and is well hidden so others think we are just like them ,so as not to be judged, wishing we could just tell someone our true thoughts ? Trying to find something that will fix the problem. Hope is what we keep trying for. Do not judge him.
my name 08:46pm, 11/21/2013
Heath ledger was a great actor for starters,and second a doctor will give u all those pills. I no cause I had most of them and more. I stopped before I got to bad. My husband almost over dosed. Its very easy to do. People say u can’t forget if u took ur meds or not. It is very easy to forget. Just remember him for the gray actor as he was.
eoghainn 05:03pm, 11/21/2013
great man doesn’t deserve to die at that stage of his care career he poured his life into the dark knight.
Pam J 05:30pm, 11/18/2013
When you can’t sleep for an extended period if time,you get kind of crazy. You can’t think straight. You start to think you’d take ANYTHING if it got you to sleep. I think Mr Ledger got his prescriptions legally, probably at different times, and maybe from more than one doctor. In a desperate attempt to sleep, he took them all at the same time, and ended up paying with his life.
Luv/joker639 10:26am, 11/15/2013
Such a tragic loss .its so sad he died at the age of 28.
bibin sabu 02:07am, 11/14/2013
LOVE HIM,,, nthng to say… amazing human being..
Julie 08:55pm, 11/11/2013
Sir William in a Knight’s Tale was sweet innocent talent.
Tim 09:14pm, 11/08/2013
Died at the top of his game and that’s where he’ll stay. R.I.P.
paulie 11:50am, 11/03/2013
I highly doubt one physician prescribed all those benzos. He would have to have addiction issues to be medicating on that level. To be a drug addict is a curse, an affliction like any other and to those who have to argue he wasn’t a junky and those who need to disparage him because he was,you’re ignorant of what opiate addiction does to the brain and how it changes the way the pleasure centers work.
moebius22 11:45am, 11/02/2013
He was a prescription drug addict that was abusing prescription drugs.
Mehul Sharma 04:36pm, 09/08/2013
No1 joker…. no substitute, no comparison .
Kepa 12:29pm, 09/01/2013
For those who don’t know about all
This dudes movies watch “Two Hands”
and “Lords of Dogtown”. Even early
in his career he was a great actor!!!
Heath Parker 11:25am, 08/29/2013
I found out he also died because he wanted to become more like the Joker and so this ended up to a very tragic death. :’(
Dave 01:04am, 08/25/2013
Dude had one major film role, died of his addiction, and u guys act like he orchasrtated peace in Egypt, then saved 100 babies from a burning orphanage.its sad, but lets keep it in perspective. He didn’t cure cancer.
Troy 10:17am, 08/14/2013
I fell in love with Ennis.
How do you separate such love and such a loss.
I will always remember him in that haunting role.
rick 05:03pm, 07/22/2013
people should not pretend to be doctors Paul if you want to ruin someone’s memory ruin your own he was probably a good guy he took too many pills at one time.does not mean he was a drug addict.and a lot of doctors will prescribe those same medications over a Period of time FACT and the pain meds a lot of people get prescribed those pain meds at the same time 1 is a short-acting pain medications another a long acting pain medication the short acting known as a breakthrough medication.so get your facts straight Paul.rest in peace Mr ledger
William 05:02pm, 07/22/2013
I think it’s acident because in the video he’s obviously twitchy and that’s only 2 months before his death.
rick 04:41pm, 07/22/2013
I would just like to ad how sad it is that this happed to some one so young.and with so much talent but to the ppl that like to trash ppl for taking prescription meds and act like they know what they are talking about paul that left the comment above go try and pretend that you’re a doctor somewhere else.because all of those could have been prescribed to the same person over aa period of time so so don’t try to speculate the circumstances of which you do not know.if he took them all at 1 time it could have been lethal.not because he was a drug addict
Liz 09:01pm, 07/21/2013
Such a shame, it reminds me of how poor River Phoenix died. They were both such great young actors, at the height of their careers and sadly both died of drug overdoses.
Sd 10:35pm, 07/19/2013
I miss him, very talented actor
Maharshi369 11:51am, 07/19/2013
He was really awesome in dark knight. Man i was really mad at his action.really sad ...
drase 04:52am, 07/19/2013
Ana 07:37pm, 07/16/2013
People shouldnt die young
seryna 04:41am, 07/15/2013
i just watched 10 things i hate about u and i just thought wow he is really talented and gorgeous and the i searched IMDB and i saw he was dead!!i am devastated right now i cried a lot like why this happens! sad :((
Paul 03:20am, 07/11/2013
No person, with his psychological or physical condition, would be prescribed that combination of drugs, sedatives, cold medication and painkillers all at once. He was abusing the drugs, without question. Anyone with any knowledge, even a basic knowledge, of these drugs and there pharmaceutical uses versus their uses for recreation/abuse knows that the combination found in Heath Ledger’s body post mortem reveals that he was abusing the drugs he had.
While it is sad that he died from drug use, it is naïve and even absurd to say that his death was not caused by a personal problem he had. While he may not have intended to kill himself, his choice to take ALL these drugs together are the precise cause of his untimely death. He had a prescription drug problem, and his addiction killed him. FACT. While that is sad and horrible, it is undeniably true. Heath Ledger’s prescription drug addiction killed him.
M. 02:06am, 07/04/2013
O’ my goodness this brakes my Heart :-( it’s such a sad deal that this Man is gone, so smart, Awesome actor, he has a kid, so young and had so much going for him.:-( so so dearly missed .. Wish I could visit grave or the home he lived in ..Rest in peace buddy..and to his family I’m so sorry for your loss may you always think of him
Kate 11:28pm, 06/30/2013
What an amazing human being…..very tragic loss….still find myself hoping for another movie with Heath….he was such a genius and so deep…..really wish he would have lived a long and happy and successful life…...really left us too soon…..so sad…....will always wish he was still here…..........what a great person!!
Accident. 05:12am, 06/30/2013
A legend who wasn’t there to pick his award after DARK KNIGHT…
mr.roboto 06:19pm, 06/27/2013
it is just too bad
cn 03:11am, 06/18/2013
he was a best actor
aj 12:23pm, 06/07/2013
God I love that man. Still breaks my heart knowing he is no longwr with us.
Fred B 01:25am, 05/24/2013
Yes, very sad.
Name! 07:00pm, 05/18/2013
Neither accident nor deliberate. Just sad.
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