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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 01/23/2008

For Heath Ledger, a Surprise Ending

By Liz Kelly

Update, 10:31 a.m. ET: Medical examiner says autopsy results for Ledger were inconclusive and will need about 10 more days for additional tests.


A smiling Heath Ledger arrives at the New York premiere of his movie 'Candy' in November 2006. (AP)
Photo Gallery: Ledger's Life

While we were busy agreeing that Britney Spears's is a life that can only end badly and prepping obits for Spears and other high-profile troubled starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse, it was Heath Ledger who apparently lived fast and died young before we had a chance to gawk at a leaked YouTube video or tut-tut at a DUI charge.

Ledger, 28, was found dead yesterday in a New York apartment, apparently from a drug overdose. We're left with two things -- Ledger's interesting, still nascent career and a question: Why didn't we notice?

We've harnessed the incredible power of the Internet age to... increase the speed and range of celebrity news and gossip. At 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2008 we know how many men Lindsay Lohan kissed on New Year's Eve in Capri. We watch Britney Spears's life unravel in thousands of photos and can indulge a twisted desire to watch celebrities eating. Yet, despite this inescapable wave of gossip and speculation, we somehow missed the story on Ledger.

He'd split from longtime girlfriend Michelle Williams last year, but he was often spotted squiring their two-year-old daughter Matilda Rose around New York. He had an Academy Award nomination under his belt, a foothold in the Batman franchise and had recently been linked to Australian model Gemma Ward. Ledger, it seemed, had everything to live for.

It is early yet, but doubtless hindsight will kick in before too long. Details of a substance abuse problem or depression or erratic behavior will surface. Quotes from "close friends" who say they were "concerned" about Ledger are already surfacing at all the usual sites.

Whether intentional or accidental, Ledger is not the first young, seemingly vital actor to lose his life to drugs. River Phoenix and his heartbreakingly unglamorous death outside Hollywood's Viper Room 15 years ago comes to mind. So does last week's death of child star Brad Renfro, found dead in his Los Angeles home last week. As does Owen Wilson's close call after overdosing on pills and slashing his wrists last August.

So, how did we miss all of those lost boys? And why didn't we know that Ledger's life was slowly going off the rails? Because sometimes you just don't know until it's too late.

One poster on the Web site of Australia's Sydney Morning Herald summed it up thusly:

"Tragic news, Heath was a fine actor and came across as a top bloke."

By Liz Kelly  | January 23, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Mix: Ledger's Parents Say Death Was an Accident
Next: Morning Mix: Ledger to be Buried in Australia


For now it seems like he had an accidental overdose on the sleeping pills. Apparently he had been having trouble sleeping for weeks. It's going to be really weird watching The Dark Knight this summer and knowing that he isn't with us anymore. I feel so sorry for his daughter.

Posted by: EricS | January 23, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

not that there's anything wrong with this blog post but what happened to the previous blog post?

Posted by: methinks | January 23, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

ah, there it is...never mind.

Posted by: methinks | January 23, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Let's not jump to conclusions. they are now reporting that he had pneumonia. It is highly possibly that just because he was sick the sleeping pills had a worse effect on him -- even if taken properly -- than they should have. In other words, not a drug overdose, but a bad reaction to prescribed medication.

Posted by: ep | January 23, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

the writer of this column is jumping to conclusions about mr. ledger w/o sufficient information at this point. the papers are all over the map on this. there is some indication he had pneumonia. if true, that could certainly be a factor. why don't we just wait and see what turns out rather than slicing him up with speculation? what we do know is that he was a real actor. a loss for all, especially his young daughter.

Posted by: frieda406 | January 23, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I think it just shows that we can read US Weekly and TMZ (and celebritology) and we can gossip all we want, and we'll think we know what's going on in these strangers' lives - but we really have no idea.

Posted by: h3 | January 23, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

RIP Heath Ledger
This is so sad and I too feel sorry for his daughter and the rest of his family. I agree that, from what I've seen so far, it appears to be an accidental overdose - very easy to forget whether and/or how many pills one has taken when one is seriously sleep deprived, so let's not jump to suicide conclusions.

Posted by: sunndaze | January 23, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with what you're saying, Liz. Why is it that the seemingly "normal", quiet, low key, talented ones are the ones we lose, while trainwrecks like Britney and LiLo live cockroaches.

I usually don't cry over news like this, but last night, I wept like a baby.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

my favorite was Kelly this morning complaining about how this happened in HER neighborhood and thus the resulting 'traffic getting home last night' was awful... nice.

Posted by: Quintilus Varus | January 23, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Quintilus Varus-for real? She actually said that??

You stay classy, Kelly Ripa.

This is just a very sad story, whether it was the result of suicide, accidental overdose, or pneumonia. The fact of the matter is he was a young, incredibly talented guy whose little 2-year-old daughter will never know her father. It's a tragedy no matter how you look at it.

Posted by: ASinMoCo | January 23, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I think we have to cut Kelly some slack - after all, earlier that day, Ringo Starr walked off the set because they wouldn't let him do the 22-minute-long version of Helter Skelter.

Kelly didn't know who the he was or anything, but Regis seemed to get along with the guy. Must be a generational thing...

Posted by: byoolin | January 23, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The low-key types are always off the radar because they don't:
1)Call the paps when they're leaving the house.
2)Eat at The Ivy or Mr. Chow.
3)Go to Hyde
4)Date media wh*#es, who sell their stories to US Weekly.

Posted by: Lisa1 | January 23, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I almost fell off the eliptical machine I was on last night when the tv at the gym announced Heath's passing. I agree with what Liz said - I felt the same way about Owen Wilson. How did we not see it coming. Such a tragedy.

Posted by: sjcpeach | January 23, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

i am still in shock about heath's death. it's just an incredibly tragic accident and my heart just breaks for his family, his daughter and michelle williams, who knew him so well and now has the awful task of telling her daughter that her daddy is dead. so sad.
as for kelly ripa, she's an idiot. if ringo wants to play 22 minutes of a song let him, he's a beatle for cripes sake, let him do whatever he wants. paul does, so why not ringo.

Posted by: melissamac1 | January 23, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

This is just so very sad, it's a loss to his daughter, his family and his craft.

He was a fine actor and will be missed.

Posted by: petal | January 23, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The answer to the question lies in part with the nature of those who obsessively follow celebrity culture, which is mostly women, and the nature of women to overwhelmingly fixate on and judge other women. Hence, Paris, Lindsey, Britney, Jamie-Lynn, Nicole Richie, etc. etc. etc. Sorry for the implied misogynistic tone of this post, but a look at the cover of any supermarket celebrity tabloid confirms this.

Posted by: KP | January 23, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Face it, you don't "know" anyone by reading about (or writing about) them in the media. You know something about their public behavior and whatever they might reveal in public comments. You get to know people by meeting them in person, spending time with them, and talking to them. We are entertained by reading about celebrities, but it's silly to pretend we "know" them.

Posted by: jlcraig52 | January 23, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

1) Stop speculating until the results are in. It could have been accidental or pneumonia.

2) I watched Regis and Kelly this a.m. and people are completely misrepresenting her remarks. She was talking about explaining to her kids what the commotion was about and spoke of how sad it was for his daughter.

Posted by: 1shot | January 23, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree we shouldn't jump to overdose conclusions. He had been suffering from insomnia and may well have just taken 1 too many (prescribed) sleeping pills. I think it's kindest and most respectful to assume this was a tragic, shocking accident. I am so sad for his family, his daughter, and Michelle Williams. This is just a very sad and tragic thing.

Posted by: Californian | January 23, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

KP, you're not being misogynistic. I think you bring up a good point. Americans (perhaps American women more than men?) love to hate on messed-up female celebrities. Why don't we scrutinize MALE boozehounds/addicts to the same extent? It seems the only time we cry foul is when the males do something so ridiculous that they can't possibly be ignored. Examples: Mel Gibson, David Hasselhoff, etc. So, it's no wonder we weren't paying close attention to Mr. Ledger's alleged struggles with substance abuse.

RIP, Heath, you will be sorely missed.

Posted by: CLH | January 23, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Here's a sexist comment made by a woman. Most of us Celebritology fans are women. Women like to tear down other women, especially ones that seem unfairly gifted in life. Therefore it is natural that we focus our snarky attentions on female celebrity train wrecks and ignore the boys. They are less fun to abuse.

Posted by: Kalie | January 23, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I too echo the comments of others at what a loss this is for the Ledger family, his daughter and to all who knew and loved him. As for Kelly Ripa - Regis said isn't that in your neighborhood Kelly and she responded that is was and then explained the chaos in the neighborhood as a result of onlookers and mourners. She also talked about how her kids weren't understanding what was going on in the neighborhood. She said nothing malicious or inappropriate so lets not take her words out of context.

Posted by: toothrough | January 23, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I see that KP said what I wanted to say better. Back to lurking.

Posted by: Kalie | January 23, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree! Let's not jump to conclusions. If the guy who runs TMZ is willing to wait for the autopsy results, why can't we?

You didn't see this coming? Well, that's because it was very likely an accident!

I thought about it this morning as I padded around the house...cold meds over by the nightstand, pain meds over by the microwave... I've had a nasty cough since Christmas. Perhaps I've been walking around with pnumonia (I'm not--I went to a doctor to get checked) and perhaps I had trouble sleeping and decided to take a pill or two...

That could have been me! That's what's freaking me out. It's a shame about Heath but sort of frightening that it might be something that could easily happen to anyone.

People die of accidental over-the-counter overdoses everyday. That's why we're innundated with every Dr. Healy-Senay-Gupta in the world telling us to be careful of too much Tylenol or too much decongestant. That's why the FDA just banned decongestant use for kids under age 2.

You want a prediction? I predict that next week, we'll not be talking about a suicidal Heath Ledger. Instead, we'll be talking about how everyone should run immediately to the doctor to check out their chronic coughs before they reach into the medicine cabinet for pain killers and sleeping pills.

Posted by: MoCoSnarky | January 23, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Liz. Today's blog on Heath Ledger reads like something out of TMZ or US or Page Six. When I heard about this tragedy, not for a minute did I assume it was something sinister. I simply felt awful and thought it was a horrible accident. Key word: accident. Spinning the story as you did, without any real-life information, was very disappointing.

Posted by: rec | January 23, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Simple - the word inconclusive. It is utterly dense to jump to conclusions that he overdosed, was suicidal, or any other negative connotation. No one will know what caused Mr. Ledger's death until the final results of the medical examiner. To make assumptions is idiotic.

Posted by: A Fan | January 23, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Yet, despite this inescapable wave of gossip and speculation, we somehow missed the story on Ledger."

WHAT STORY?! From what I've read, he'd been having problems sleeping (getting 2 hours a night!) and had pneumonia. Why does the media (including celebrity bloggers) have to jump to the conclusion that this was intentional?! I am a huge fan of this blog, but c'mon. RIP, Heath.

Posted by: kc | January 23, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

See I was right. Prescription drugs are bad. Wait a minute - Kate get back in that closet I did not say you could come out yet.
To continue, Scientologist's do not take drugs so we don't ever have these kind of problems.
Peace out to all of my alien buddies!

Posted by: Tom Cruise | January 23, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I think it's sad that he was alone w/no one there but a house keeper behind a locked door. Don't know if the guy had problems or not,if the death was natural or drug-induced, but it seems a lonely way to go.

Posted by: possum | January 23, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the others who are disappointed by the tone of this post. We don't know what happened. We may never know. To assume suicide - the most damaging conclusion to all of the people who ACTUALLY knew and loved Heath - is irresponsible at this point.

I, too, cried last night thinking about this. He had such talent and passion for his craft, made careful choices (even if they didn't always translate into box office gold), and generally seemed like an affable, good-hearted person. He could have gone on to a career like Johnny Depp has enjoyed... And he has a beautiful daughter who is so young that she won't remember him at all when she is an adult. I'm just so sad about this.

Posted by: oregonchick | January 23, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Drug Overdose? WHERE did that come from?
This is sham reporting. If the preliminary results are inconclusive, how can anyone make the leap, given only that Mr. Ledger suffered from insomnia at times? I'm disgusted with the entire slant of this article.

Posted by: Mike Wicks | January 23, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

dont take Kelly's words out of context?

i believe the exchange went something like '"it was so depressing... (R: was it in your neighborhood?)... it was SOOO in my neighborhood - and the traffic getting home last night" was awful' - and THEN she went on to talk about having her kids in the car etc... to me, it seemed she realized that she sounded a bit 'its all about me' and she backtracked. Of all the crocodile tears we heard this morning - her comments stood out as signal in the noise - which is hard when you consider how much blabbering there was on the subject this am. I stand by my take.

Posted by: Quintilus Varus | January 23, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I read Celebritology every day, so I'm not trying to sound holier than thou, but at times like this, I feel kind of sad about the amount of attention that is now given to celebrities, to the extent that a person who passes away or is rushed to the hospital has multiple hangers-on wanting to know was it an overdose, did he slit his wrists, what happened, are there pictures, etc.? Think Owen Wilson, Anna Nicole, paps in the trees outside of Britney's house snapping shots of her in the back of an ambulance. Lots of people commit suicide or OD every day and thankfully for their families, especially children like Matilda who will likely not have memories of their lost parents, it isn't written about in newspapers and discussed on blogs. I realize that celebrities have put themselves in the spotlight to a large extent, but there just seems to be so much more of an appetite for knowing every little thing about people that most of us will never meet or interact with these days, and even as a fan of celebrity gossip, sometimes it's just too much for my taste.

Posted by: malpass | January 23, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to jump to conclusions and say this was an overdose or not... But to address the question in the post one must assume it was for the sake of argument.

I successfully hid my injection heroin habit for years all the while keeping a successful job in teh software industry, a beautiful wife, a house, etc. One can keep under the radar if that is their perogtive, even if famous... And an accidental overdose is just as tragic as any other way of dying and can also happen at any time.

Posted by: Anon | January 23, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh Tom, I knew it was just a matter of time until you cashed in on this.
How many Oscars have you been nominated for, Hon?

Posted by: possum | January 23, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

HOw is it possible to "accidentally" overdose on sleeping pills?

Let's say he took two. Dozed off, awoke and took two more. That makes four. Could he really then take four or however many more by accident? And would 8 be enough to do terminal damage.

I don't see how anyone could take the number of pills required to end life "accidentally."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My assumption is that this was a suicide and that is what is driving my comments. I see this as a larger problem in society, in that there is such a stigma towards mental illness for everyone, but particularly for men. Men are supposed to "be strong" and "not show their emotions" so it gets bottled up until things like this happen. Perhaps that, coupled with the preference for a more violent means, is why the "successful" suicide rate is so much higher for men.

Perhaps if the media--particularly the celebrity media, such as People magazine for instance--focused on how mental illness should not be shamed, the Owen Wilsons of the world would not be driven to such drastic measures.

Posted by: mbc | January 23, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Liz, shame on you. This is the type of speculative junk I'd expect from TMZ. You're above this. Quite possibly we didn't notice because there was nothing to notice. Maybe we missed "the story" because he was just a boring guy trying to live his life and raise his daughter in relative normality. Maybe we didn't notice his life was going off the rails because it was firmly on the rails. Maybe I'm wrong and he was a drug-addled alcoholic sex addict who liked to kick puppies. But I don't know, and neither do you. There's no call for a blog like this without some actual facts to back it up.

Posted by: Arlington | January 23, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

To the above poster:
Well, let's say he took two and didn't doze off. In fact, he's still very much awake. So he takes two more an hour later. Still... nothing. Lying in the dark, doesn't see a clock, takes another dose. Turns out it's been half an hour. He's still wide awake two hours after his first dose so he tries one more time, not realizing how much time has actually passed between his first dose and now.

This could also happen if he developed a tolerance to them during the course of his filming. Two pills didn't work anymore, so he took three. Three didn't work, so four. However many he needed to actually get the desired effect.

Since I know this can definitely happen with pain pills (an hour after your first dose, you're still in pain, so you take more) I wouldn't be surprised if it could happen with sleeping pills, too.

Posted by: Catherine | January 23, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Here's why I don't think it was suicide: He was naked. How many people take off all their clothes before offing themselves? I have no idea. Maybe a lot. But I doubt it.

Posted by: Suicide Naked? | January 23, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

We don't know what it was. But, what we do know is that unlike Brit, Paris, et al, he was not out partying all the time, he was not calling the paps to discuss his every move. Prior to his recent move to SoHo, he lived in Brookly specifically to avoid the press.

So, as someone said, it is possible to avoid the press if someone wishes to. Even if that someone is not trying to hide anything sinister but just wants some privacy. Mr. Ledger was a private person.

Having said that, the first thing I did when I heard about his death was come here. Not for lurid information, but to share and commiserate with others who understand what we lost when this talented celebrity died.

Posted by: ep | January 23, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I am a celebritology fan, but I was pretty disappointed with the tone of the post...there may be no "story," just a series of tragic coincidences. Let's not sully the waters so quickly by assuming Heath had a juicy secret life.

And to Catherine, there are reports that he was on a couple different kinds of medication - for pneumonia as well as sleeping pills. It may be a result of a poorly mixed, perfectly legal, cocktail of prescription and over the counter medication. Or maybe he had some secret sleeping pill addiction. But I think we should reserve labeling him an addict, let alone exploring how he may have come by that addiction, until something more substantial comes from the police.

Posted by: Sterling | January 23, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

We pay attention to celebs whose lives seem to fit storylines we love, and few are more seductive than the Little Girl Lost storyline, or the Girl Gone Wild storyline. There really isn't a similar one for guy actors with troubles. We seem to want our male actors to be virile, healthy, surfing, being good dads, etc. There's no similar storyline for them, and so when their lives seem to be veering off course, we ignore it. It doesn't fit the story. That's why Heath wasn't a pap favorite. Same with River Phoenix and Owen Wilson. All three the public wanted to believe were Nice Guys. Sweet Guys. Guys you want to bring home to mom. Not guys who end up naked in their Soho apartments at age 28.

Posted by: chicagomom | January 23, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Good point, "Suicide Naked?"!!

That had bothered me too. I figured it sounds very plausible he just passed away in his sleep, possible from any number of things, but hopefully peacefully.

Posted by: K | January 23, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Correction, I wanted to address my second comment to Anon from 3:05, not Catherine. My bad.

Posted by: Sterling | January 23, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why this article is comparing Heath Ledger to Britany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton. Celebrities like Britany Spears for example, seem to want the attention on themselves. Heath Ledger is obviously not that type of celebrity to make himself stand out like Britany Spears.There are a lot of celebrities that may be run down by the press, but not as diluted as Britany Spears. As far as we know, it was a fatal accident that was not intended to happen.

Posted by: Jimmy | January 23, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how anyone could take the number of pills required to end life "accidentally." (3:05 PM)

Au contraire. As someone who nearly died of severe pneumonia, I can assure the snarkster that when you're that sick (woozy, maybe even delirious from fever), it's hard to keep track of which meds you've taken when; I had to write down what I took in order to make sure I didn't accidentally mis-dose myself. A bad case of pneumonia can take a real toll on the heart: I wound up in a coronary unit for observation, and it can be nearly impossible to sleep with such a serious illness, because the body is in nearly constant distress. It took a week's hospitalization, plus months recuperation at home afterwards, for a previously healthy person like me to recover. Imagine how Heath Ledger, who could well have been exhausted from work and illness with perhaps his heart and immune system compromised, might have lost track and accidentally taken just a few too many sleeping pills in too short a period, perhaps in combination with other prescribed meds.

My heart goes out to the Ledger family and Heath's friends.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 23, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

My brother committed suicide recently, and I beg all of you, please don't speculate on Heath Ledger's cause of death. What his family and friends are going through is bad enough, they don't need baseless rumors and unfounded conjecture sullying the memory of their loved one. Please have some compassion and respect.

Posted by: lafred | January 23, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I am so sorry about your brother, but I do object to "sullying" if that is in reference to suicide. There is far too mmuch stigma in this society when it comes to metal illness. No one gets angry at someone or blames them for dying of breast cancer. Depression is an equally-devastating (and "legitimate") illness. Just because it affects the brain, either via chemical imbalance or psychological factors or both, versus the "body" (as if we can separate the two!) does not make it something to be ashamed of.
If you were referring to other rumors, and not the suicide one, I am sorry for baselessly objecting. But I am still deeply sorry for your loss. I know it is horrendous to go through.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

It is quite easy to OD accidentally. Combine Tylenol and alcohol (even at recommended doses of Tylenol and minimal amounts of alcohol) and you can die very quickly of liver failure. People do not realize how toxic OTC drugs can be, and if you factor in Rx ones, too, it is pretty easy to die accidentally.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

To the poster at 4:41:

Thank you for your kind words, and I couldn't agree more about the stigma attached to suicide. My brother had suffered with bipolar disorder for years; he no more asked nor wanted this than he would diabetes or cancer. We do need to stop whispering about suicide, to discuss is as openly as we do any "physical" disease. However, speaking as someone who has recently had to deal with it, those left behind always feel "if only I had done this, or said that, maybe it wouldn't have happened." Rationally I know this isn't true, but still that thought is always there. That's what I'd like to spare Heath's loved ones. That, and other wild rumors flying around that have no basis in fact but are merely people's imaginations run amok.

Posted by: lafred | January 23, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

lafred wrote: "My brother had suffered with bipolar disorder for years; he no more asked nor wanted this than he would diabetes or cancer. We do need to stop whispering about suicide, to discuss is as openly as we do any "physical" disease."

This is so true, lafred. You honor your brother's memory by speaking the truth in public. One reader at a time, you are replacing the heat of stigma with the light of knowledge.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

My heart aches so for Heath's family and friends. We've lost a really good actor way too soon. Regardless of what is "concluded" about his death, it is a tremendous loss.

Posted by: plamar1031 | January 23, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

My mother in-law passed away this past Sunday. This past Christmas she was fine. A week later she went to the hospital because of a bad cough. She was diagnosed with pnuemonia and sent home. 2 weeks ago she was admitted into ICU because she could not breathe - come to find out it was not pnuemonia. It was lung cancer. Now she's gone. If someone had not been there with here that night to take her to the hospital we would have never even known she had cancer.

Posted by: Marie | January 23, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

What a shame- and a loss.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

lafred, you are a good person--keep speaking out. And I am so sorry for all the loss set out here. I am crying.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

You asked a great question, Celebritology!

Maybe one of the reasons people are celebrity junkies in the first place is their fairy-tale lives: They're beautiful, rich and famous. The women all wear jewels and couture gowns, and we ordinary people who are stuck in our offices doing boring jobs think they are having wonderful lives.

The celebs, in turn, do their best to present themselves as ideal people. They hire spin doctors and publicists to create the most flattering public image possible. The media goes along with it and repeats what the publicists tell them. The media might also be afraid to publish rumors because of fear of being sued.

That's why it was such a shock to discover that all was not perfect with someone who appeared to 'have everything.'

Posted by: Patty | January 24, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree it's premature to discuss cause of death, but many people have told the media that Ledger had been able to sleep only a couple of hours a night. That alone indicates some sort of problem.

Posted by: Patty | January 24, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Are you so anxious to begin feeding on this poor man's carcass that you would stoop to wholesale invention and unfounded innuendo? You admit that you can find no negative stories or gossip about Heath Ledger, yet you claim that his "life was slowly going off the rails" and confidently assert that "details of a substance abuse problem or depression or erratic behavior will surface." Shame on you!

There is no evidence of any kind to suggest this was anything more than a sad accident. Ambien and anti-anxiety medicines like Xanax and Valium all act on the respiratory system. Add pneumonia to the mix, and you've got a tragedy. Not a suicide or a self-destructive downward spiral, but an accidental, fatal mix of prescribed medicines. It happens more often than we would like to think.

Posted by: Chantooz | January 24, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

To address the question of whether it would be possible to OD unintentionally:

I am an insomniac, and have been since the tender age of six. A few years ago, I was prescribed Ambien after a period where I could only manage about 3-4 hours of sleep per night (for several months). I thought I was losing my mind.

The first few times I took one Ambien and it knocked me out - I thought it was a wonder drug. After that, it just made me feel drunk, and sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night completely disoriented and unable to return to sleep. I have serious reactions to medication, otherwise I would have used multiple doses of Ambien. I do know how cloudy my mind was when the drug had kicked in... Once, I kept petting my pillow, completely bewildered as to why it wasn't furry (I thought it was my cat). And another time, I woke up barefoot, in my pjs, outside of my apartment, with my car keys in hand.

(That's when I decided I'd rather be crazed from lack of sleep than stay on Ambien.)

I can definitely see how easy it would be to take several doses without realizing how many you had consumed. Add anti-anxiety drugs and serious prolonged sleep deprivation into the mix, and I can't even imagine how easy it would be to accidentally OD.

Posted by: oregonchick | January 24, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

People should question WHY in the world is John Travolta suddenly present? Given the current climate, I would not be so hard-pressed to believe that those Scientomogists have something to do with this. People can easily PLANT things in someone's apartment if they have access, or clout, OR BOTH. Knowing what they are going through right now with the entire WORLD, who's to say that these imbeciles aren't trying to make points, even COVER UP what is going on with CELEBRITIES DROPPING DEAD. Watch for other celebrities going through it, especially that Jennifer Lopez gal who is guzzling niacin and cooking oil and is already showing signs of problems (she's bled through her urine). These people are trying to remove all sorts of bad press due to their insane quackery, and something tells me that this whole idea of finding prescription pills ALL OF A SUDDEN is going to be more frequent as the "Church" of SCAMology attempts to cover up their trails. I wouldn't put it past them to have knocked Mr. Ledger out. People need to REALLY ASK MORE QUESTIONS and KEEP THESE SCAMOLOGISTS OUT OF THE AUTOPSY ROOM.

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