Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday in bed at his Manhattan home in what authorities are calling a possible drug-related death. He was 28.
The New York Police Department told reporters that a housekeeper for the apartment at 421 Broome St. in Soho found the actor’s body when she went to inform him that his masseuse had arrived for an appointment.
BLAST has confirmed through police that Ledger’s body was found with over-the-counter medicines and sleeping pills. Police said the death appears to be accidental.
Early rumors had circulated that Mary-Kate Olsen was with Ledger before or at the time of his death. NYPD’s spokesman called these reports “totally untrue."
The New York Times reported that an NYPD spokesman mistakenly told reporters the apartment Ledger was found in was owned by Olsen.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for public information, initially said that the apartment was owned by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, but later reversed himself and said that was not the case.
A representative of Ms. Olsen said that the apartment did not belong to the actress. “It is not her apartment,” the representative, Annette Wolf, a publicist for Ms. Olsen, said in a phone interview. “She does not own the apartment. She has never owned the apartment. She and her sister have an apartment in New York City but they are not in this building.”
“Medical examinations are underway, but we believe there was nobody involved in is death,” police told BLAST during a brief interview Tuesday.
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, and a formal press statement revealing the cause of death is expected in a few weeks. NYPD added that they will not release a statement in regards to the actor’s death. However they have clarified that Olsen was called by the masseuse to ask her what to do since Ledger was not responding when shaken, knowing that the two knew each other and she also served the actress.
Olsen suggested calling a private security service, after getting a second call form the masseuse the young star called the security service herself and two men arrived at Ledger’s apartment to offer help. At the same time, the housekeeper and masseuse called emergency and police arrived shortly after. An officer, the two staff members and the two security men present at the time, were witnesses when authorities pronounced Ledger dead.
Ledger is slated to appear as Batman villain, “The Joker” in the upcoming movie, “The Dark Knight.” Calls to Warner Bros. studios and DC Comics were not returned imediately but as of Wednesday morning a studio representative provided BLAST with a statement released by Alan Horn, President and COO, and Jeff Robinov, President, of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.
“The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news. The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” said the statement. “Filming has been completed on “The Dark Knight,” and the movie is now in post-production.
Ledger separated from his fianc©e Michelle Williams in September. The couple have a two-year-old daughter, Matilda. Ledger had also been working on “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” a movie directed by Terry Gilliam, which was to be released in 2009. His family released the a statement, Wednesday afternoon.
“We, Heath’s family, confirm, the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother and doting father of Matilda. He was found peacefully asleep in his New York apartment by his housekeeper at 3:30 p.m. U.S. time. We would like to thank our friends and everyone around the world for their well wishes and kind thoughts at this time. Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him. He was a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving and selfless individual who was extremely inspirational to many. Please now respect our family’s need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately,” the statement said.
See also, Blast Magazine’s obituary, “Remembering Heath Ledger.”
John Guilfoil and Mark Scalia, of the Blast Magazine staff, also contributed to this report.