Heath Ledger Leaves Behind a World in Shock

Written by Meg Susong
Megaphone Staff Writer

Why so serious?” is the line, now perhaps ironic, uttered by Heath Ledger in his upcoming role as the Joker in the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight.”

The still hazy events went down (down indeed) something like this: A masseuse (who might not have been licensed, though that really is not as important as most seem to believe) arrived at the apartment at 2:45 p.m. for her regular appointment with Mr. Ledger. A housekeeper let her in and knocked on the door of Mr. Ledger’s bedroom. No one answered.

The housekeeper and the masseuse pushed open the bedroom door and saw Mr. Ledger, unconscious and naked, on the floor. They shook him but could not revive him, and then called for help. The masseuse speed dialed Mary-Kate Olsen (who sent her personal guards to assist in the situation) four times before calling 911. According to a report issued by The New York Post, his body was still warm when paramedics were called to his New York apartment, according to the Emergency Medical Service dispatch report. Possibly, the warmth of Ledger’s body could mean that he was dead for as little as 20 minutes when the call was made, making the delay all the more melancholy.

No illegal drugs were found, but several prescription ones were. Ambien (insomnia), Valium (anxiety), Zoloft (anti-depressant), Xanax (anxiety), Zoplicone (insomnia) and antihistamine Donormyl. It had been said that Ledger’s lastest role as the Joker was getting to him and causing him to be mentally and physically exhausted.

Yet, it did not seem to be something to be alarmed over. As for a medical opinion, an autopsy was initially inconclusive, and the results of more complete testing are not expected until the end of this week.

Heathcliff Andrew Ledger was born on April 4, 1979, in Perth, Australia. His first Hollywood film was the teenage romantic comedy “10 Things I Hate About You,” a send-up of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in which he appeared opposite Julia Stiles.

Shying away from more teen flicks, he came to prominence as a serious actor in Mel Gibson’s film “The Patriot.” He later appeared in “A Knight’s Tale” and “Monster’s Ball” in 2001, and in four films released in 2005: “Lords of Dogtown,” “Casanova,” “The Brothers Grimm” and the cowboy romance that established him as a major star, “Brokeback Mountain.” His second to last role was in the Dylan film “I’m Not There.”

As far as mourning goes, most of the Western world is still in shock. However, in what can only be considered an utterly repulsing move, the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, has spoken out and said that they will picket any memorials held in his honor. The Westboro Baptist Church is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the United States.

It regularly pickets the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, claiming the war is God’s punishment for tolerating gays. Ledger won widespread acclaim and shed his teen image for his portrayal of a repressed homosexual cowboy in the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain.

Shirley Phelps, a member of the church, said “I’m going to stand outside of any public memorial service that he has here. And then the other place I’m going to picket him is when they prop him up to worship his dead, rotting carcass further at the Oscars. I’ll be right outside by the red carpet.”

However, the rest of the world and anyone who isn’t a jaded, heartless, jerk (for lack of a harsher term) individual is missing his presence. Fans at Southwestern are in mourning for the late actor and former teen heartthrob (although many a heart is throbbing now, but in a different manner).

Many celebrities have spoke out with their condolences, among them fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue.

Kim Ledger, Heath’s father, has also spoken out on his son’s early death. “Heath is, and always will be, an Australian,” wrote Kim, who arrived in the US on Saturday to escort his son’s body back to Perth. “He adored his home. His last two weeks with us over Christmas in Perth were just bliss. Heath did not become an actor for the fame or fortune. He loved his craft and he loved helping his friends. He loved chess and skateboarding too. My image of Heath in New York is him with his skateboard, a canvas bag and his beanie. That was Heath to me.”

We will miss you, Heath, an actor who truly died too young and too soon. But take comfort in his own words.

Responding to a question about how having a child had changed his life: “You’re forced into, kind of, respecting yourself more,” he said. “You learn more about yourself through your child, I guess. I think you also look at death differently. It’s like a Catch-22: I feel good about dying now because I feel like I’m alive in her, you know, but at the same hand, you don’t want to die because you want to be around for the rest of her life.”

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