Robin Williams to undergo heart surgery

Posted on Apr 4, 2009 in Cardiovascular Health

Robin Williams to have aortic valve replacement
(CNN) — Robin Williams will undergo heart surgery, according to his publicist.
Actor-comedian Robin Williams was on an 80-city tour for his one-man show.

The 57-year-old actor and comedian postponed his one-man show tour and entered a hospital for testing this week after suffering a shortness of breath.

Williams will undergo an aortic valve replacement, the publicist said.

“I’m so touched by everyone’s support and well wishes,” Williams said in a statement. “This tour has been amazing fun and I can’t wait to get back out on the road after a little tune-up.”

The publicist would not say when or where the surgery will take place.

The surgery is similar to the procedure former first lady Barbara Bush underwent Wednesday. Bush’s surgeon, Dr. Gerald Lawrie, described it as “a very routine procedure” from the doctors’ perspective.

Williams was in the middle of an 80-city tour of his “Weapons of Self-Destruction” show, which is expected to resume in the fall, the publicist said.

His Web site says the shows “highlight Williams’ trademark free associations and riffs on social and political absurdities.”

Williams rose to fame in the mid-1970s as the childlike alien Mork, who first appeared on an episode of “Happy Days” and then was spun off into his own show, “Mork and Mindy.” His manic standup comedy, combining impersonations, commentary, jokes and nonsense in high-speed profusion, was and remains his trademark. View a timeline of Williams’ life and career »

Williams began his movie career with 1980’s “Popeye,” but succeeding films, such as 1982’s “The World According to Garp” and 1984’s “Moscow on the Hudson,” countered his wild standup persona with quiet, pensive performances. (The performer had attended New York’s famed Juilliard School to study drama in the 1970s, where one of his classmates was Christopher Reeve.)

It wasn’t until 1987’s “Good Morning, Vietnam,” which managed to combine Williams’ frenzied comedy style with more sober drama, that he broke through as a film star. He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of “Vietnam’s” DJ Adrian Cronauer.

Other Williams films include “Awakenings” (1990), “The Fisher King” (1991), “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), “Good Will Hunting” (1997) and “Insomnia” (2002). He won a best supporting actor Oscar for “Good Will Hunting.”

Williams has been active in charitable endeavors, most notably the Comic Relief program, which raises money for various causes.
Williams’ current heart problems aren’t the first time he’s coped with health issues. In August 2006, the comedian and actor checked himself into an alcohol rehab center.

“After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family,” his publicist told CNN at the time.