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A year without Robin Williams

A year without Robin Williams
Flowers, cards and candles surround Robin Williams' Hollywood Walk of Fame star. The beloved comedian and actor died a year ago. (Los Angeles Times)

Actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life one year ago today, stunning the world and leaving behind a plethora of great work that cements his status as a universally beloved artist and iconic funnyman.

The news of the actor’s death rocked the nation that day: News channels broke into their usual programming to make the announcement and President Obama noted Williams' passing. Williams had about 60 film roles during his career, as well as numerous other credits, and during this last year, his legacy has continued to be bolstered.

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‘Absolutely Anything,’ his last film to be released, is showing this month

Williams, remembered for his roles as a lovable alien in the TV series "Mork & Mindy," and in films such as "Good Will Hunting," "Dead Poets Society," "Mrs. Doubtfire," and "Good Morning, Vietnam," left behind several films that have been released since he died.

Among the last two to be released will be “Absolutely Anything,” an animated comedy directed by Terry Jones, which is scheduled to hit theaters this month. In the movie, Williams gives his voice to the character of Dennis, the dog of a teacher who is granted special powers by aliens.

Williams' last on-screen performance was in "Boulevard," which was released last month. In the film he plays Nolan, a middle-aged banker who represses his homosexuality until he becomes enamored with a young street hustler.

PHOTOS Robin Williams: 1951 - 2014

A battle over his estate is ongoing

The actor’s family is still battling in court over parts of his estate, which in total is estimated to be worth more than $100 million.

Williams left most of his estate to his children, Cody, 23, and Zelda, 25, whose mother is Williams' second wife; and Zachary, 31, Williams' son with his first wife.

Susan Schneider Williams, who was married to Williams when he died, filed a petition in December, charging that the actor’s children were claiming memorabilia that was bestowed to her, such as “knick-knacks and other items not associated with his famous persona.” But his children are arguing that his knickknacks, such as movie posters and autographed publications, fueled his creativity and therefore belong to them under the terms of his estate.

A judge has given Williams' wife and his children more time to work out their differences. The Los Angeles Times reported in June that Williams' children and Susan Schneider Williams had been working to resolve their issues through negotiations and mediation, and had come to an agreement on how to distribute some items, but still had issues to work out.

His death surfaced a discussion on depression and mental illness, but it didn't last

The 63-year-old Oscar winner, who battled addiction and depression, died after hanging himself at his home in Tiburon, Calif. His death triggered a discussion about mental illness, depression and suicide among shocked fans and fellow celebrities. Some of the actor’s closest friends and colleagues said that they had noticed Williams slipping away over the years. And in a 2010 interview with comedian Marc Maron on the "WTF" podcast, Williams said he had contemplated suicide.

In the months leading up to his death, Williams struggled with the cancellation of his CBS TV series "The Crazy Ones" and fought a losing battle to stay sober.

“He started to disconnect” and “wasn't returning calls as much,” fellow comedian Rick Overton told The Times shortly after Williams' death. “He would send texts and things like that, but they would get shorter and shorter." Comedian and longtime friend Steven Pearl told The Times that when he ran into Williams at a barbecue in the San Francisco Bay Area a month before his death, he “could just tell something was off."

Williams’ death struck a chord with mental health advocates, and many Times readers said they hoped his death would create more awareness about the devastating effects of depression. Cynthia Ingersoll of Sultan, Wash., thanked Williams “for possibly creating an awareness that yes, this can happen to someone as magnificent as you.”

Los Angeles resident Wendy Werris remarked that although Williams' death was a tragedy, it did not come as a shock to her. “ I hope it shames our culture into taking depression seriously,” she wrote.

Although Williams’ death touched off an intense discussion on mental health and depression, the debate appeared to fade with few if any tangible results.

Los Angeles Times staff writers Steven Zeitchik, Sheri Linden, Veronica Rocha and Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.

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