Heath Ledger Biography
Heath Ledger (Heath Andrew Ledger) was born on 4th April 1979 in Perth, Western Australia, Australia to Sally (Ramshaw), a teacher of French, and Kim Ledger, a mining engineer who also raced cars. He was an Australian actor and director popularly known for his role as ‘The Joker’ in ‘The Dark Knight’. He passed on on 22nd January 2008.
Heath Ledger attended Mary’s Mount Primary School in Gooseberry Hill and later Guildford Grammar School, where he had his first acting experiences, starring in a school production as Peter Pan at age 10. His parents separated when he was 10 and divorced when he was 11. Ledger’s older sister Kate, an actress and later a publicist, to whom he was very close, inspired his acting on stage, and his love of Gene Kelly inspired his successful choreography, leading to Guildford Grammar’s 60-member team’s “first all-boy victory” at the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge.
Heath Ledger Career
At the age of 17 Heath Ledger sat for his graduation exams and he left school to persue a career in acting. He drove across Australia from Perth to Sydney with his friend Trevor DiCarlo . His first real acting job came in a low-budget movie called Blackrock (1997), a largely unimpressive cliché; an adolescent angst film about one boy’s struggle when he learns his best mate raped a girl. He only had a very small role in the film. After that small role Heath Ledger auditioned for a role in a T.V. show called Sweat (1996) about a group of young Olympic hopefuls. He was offered one of two roles, one as a swimmer, another as a gay cyclist. Heath accepted the latter because he felt to really stand out as an actor one had to accept unique roles that stood out from the bunch.
Heath Ledger was cast as a member of Home and Away (1998) in which he played a surfer who falls in love with one of the girls of Summer Bay. Then came his very brief role in Paws (1997), a film which existed solely to cash in on guitar prodigy Nathan Cavaleri’s brief moment of fame, where he was the hottest thing in Australia. Heath played a student in the film, involved in a stage production of a Shakespeare play, in which he played “Oberon”.
Heath Ledger went to the U.S. trying to audition for film roles, showcasing his brief role in Roar (1997). He auditioned for the part of Max on the TV show Roswell (1999). However, the show was originally developed for Fox and since he had already starred in Roar (1997), which was unsuccessful for Fox, they did not want to hire him.
Gregor Jordan, an Australian director, auditioned Heath Ledgerfor the lead in Two Hands (1999), which he got. The movie helped him secure a role in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). After that, it seemed Heath was being typecast as a young hunk, which he did not like, so he accepted a role in a very serious war drama The Patriot (2000).
In 2005 Heath Ledger played Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain which earned him him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and Best International Actor from the Australian Film Institute, and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
A few months before his death, Heath Ledger had finished filming his performance as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight (2008). Heath Ledger received more than thirty posthumous accolades for his critically acclaimed performance as the Joker, the psychopathic clown prince of crime, in the film, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Best Actor International Award at the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards (for which he became the first actor to win an award posthumously), the 2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Heath Ledger Movies/Films
- 1993: Ship to Shore as Cyclist
- 1996: Sweat as Snowy Bowles
- 1997: Home and Away as Scott Irwin
- 1997: Roar as Conor
- 2007: Storm Hawks as Cyclonian Talon
- 1997: Blackrock as Toby Ackland
- 1997: Paws as Oberon
- 1999: 10 Things I Hate About You as Patrick Verona
- 1999: Two Hands as Jimmy
- 2000: The Patriot as Gabriel Martin
- 2001: A Knight’s Tale as William Thatcher
- 2001: Monster’s Ball as Sonny Grotowski
- 2002: The Four Feathers as Harry Faversham
- 2003: Ned Kelly as Ned Kelly
- 2003: The Order as Alex Bernier
- 2005: Lords of Dogtown as Skip Engblom
- 2005: The Brothers Grimm as Jacob Grimm
- 2005: Brokeback Mountain as Ennis Del Mar
- 2005: Casanova as Giacomo Casanova
- 2006: Candy as Dan Carter
- 2007: I’m Not There as Robbie Clark (Bob Dylan)
- 2008: The Dark Knight as The Joker (Posthumous release)
- 2009: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus as Tony Shepard
Heath Ledger Oscar
Heath Ledger performance of ‘The Joker’ in ‘The Dark Knight’ earned him an Academy Award (2009) for Best Supporting Actor, making him the first comic-book movie actor to win an Oscar.
Heath Ledger Daughter
In 2004 Heath Ledger met actress Michelle Williams on the set of Brokeback Mountain. On 28th October 2005 their daughter Matilda Rose was born. In September 2007, Williams’ father confirmed to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had ended their relationship.
After Heath Ledger death, in response to some press reports about his will, filed in New York City on 28 February 2008, and his daughter’s access to his financial legacy, his father, Kim Ledger, said that he considered the financial well-being of his granddaughter Matilda Rose an “absolute priority”, whilst also stating that her mother, Michelle Williams, was “an integral part of our family”. He added, “They will be taken care of and that’s how Heath would want it to be”. Some of Ledger’s relatives may be challenging the legal status of his will signed in 2003, prior to his involvement with Williams and the birth of their daughter and not updated to include them, which divides half of his estate between his parents and half among his siblings; they claim that there is a second, unsigned will, which leaves most of that estate to Matilda Rose. Williams’ father, Larry Williams, has also joined the controversy about Ledger’s will as it was filed in New York City soon after his death.
On 27 September 2008, Heath Ledger father Kim stated that “the family has agreed to leave the US$16.3 million fortune to Matilda,” adding: “There is no claim. Our family has gifted everything to Matilda.”
Heath Ledger Death
At about 2:45 pm (EST), on 22 January 2008, Heath Ledger was found unconscious in his bed by his housekeeper, Teresa Solomon and his masseuse, Diana Wolozin, in his fourth-floor loft apartment at 421 Broome Street in the SoHo neighbourhood of Manhattan.
According to the police, Wolozin, who had arrived early for a 3:00 pm appointment with Ledger, called Ledger’s friend Mary-Kate Olsen for help. Olsen, who was in California, directed a New York City private security guard to go to the scene. At 3:26 pm, “less than 15 minutes after she first saw him in bed and only a few moments after the first call to Ms. Olsen”, Wolozin telephoned 9-1-1 “to say that Mr. Ledger was not breathing”. At the urging of the 9-1-1 operator, Wolozin administered CPR, which was unsuccessful in reviving him.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians arrived seven minutes later, at 3:33 pm (“at almost exactly the same moment as a private security guard summoned by Ms. Olsen”) but were also unable to revive him. At 3:36 pm , Ledger was pronounced dead and his body was removed from the apartment.
On 6th February 2008 the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York released its conclusions, based on an initial autopsy of 23 January 2008 and a subsequent complete toxicological analysis. The report concludes, in part, “Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.” It states definitively: “We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications.”
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While the medications found in the toxicological analysis may be prescribed in the United States for insomnia, anxiety, pain, or common cold (doxylamine) symptoms, the vast majority of physicians in the US are extremely reluctant to prescribe multiple benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam, alprazolam, and temazepam) to a single patient, let alone prescribe the same to a patient already taking a mix of oxycodone and hydrocodone. Although the Associated Press and other media reported that “police estimate Ledger’s time of death between 1 pm and 2:45 pm ” (on 22 January 2008), the Medical Examiner’s Office announced that it would not be publicly disclosing the official estimated time of death. The official announcement of the cause and manner of Ledger’s death heightened concerns about the growing problems of prescription drug abuse or misuse and combined drug intoxication (CDI).
Late in February 2008, a DEA investigation of medical professionals relating to Ledger’s death exonerated two American physicians, who practice in Los Angeles and Houston, of any wrongdoing, determining that “the doctors in question had prescribed Ledger other medications – not the pills that killed him.”
On 4 August 2008, citing unnamed sources, Murray Weiss, of the New York Post, first reported that Mary-Kate Olsen had “refused [through her attorney, Michael C. Miller] to be interviewed by federal investigators probing the accidental drug death of her close friend Heath Ledger … [without] … immunity from prosecution” and that, when asked about the matter, Miller at first declined further comment. Later that day, after the police confirmed the gist of Weiss’s account to the Associated Press, Miller issued a statement denying that Olsen supplied Heath Ledger with the drugs causing his death and asserting that she did not know their source. In his statement, Miller said specifically, “Despite tabloid speculation, Mary-Kate Olsen had nothing whatsoever to do with the drugs found in Heath Ledger’s home or his body, and she does not know where he obtained them,” emphasizing that media “descriptions [attributed to an unidentified source] are incomplete and inaccurate.”
After a flurry of further media speculation, on 6 August 2008, the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan closed its investigation into Ledger’s death without filing any charges and rendering moot its subpoena of Olsen. With the clearing of the two doctors and Olsen, and the closing of the investigation because the prosecutors in the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office “don’t believe there’s a viable target,” it is still not known how Ledger obtained the oxycodone and hydrocodone in the lethal drug combination that killed him.