Heath Ledger (4th April 1979 - 22nd January 2008) was an Australian, Academy Award-nominated actor. Shortly before his death (cause currently unknown), he had completed filming the most recent batman Movie, The Dark Knight, in which he played the role of The Joker.
Ledger was born in Perth, Australia, to Sally Ledger Bell, a French teacher, and Kim Ledger, a racing car driver and mining engineer. Heath and his sister, Kate were named after the two main characters in Wuthering Heights.
At sixteen, Ledger left school to pursue an acting career. He featured in the TV series 'Sweat' (1996), in which he played a gay cyclist.
His film debut was in the 1997 Australian movie Blackrock, which was immediately followed by a part on 'Home And Away' one of the country's most successful television shows. In 1999, Ledger starred in the teen comedy movie 10 Things I Hate About Youand also had the lead role in the critically acclaimed Australian movie Two Hands.
From 2000 to 2005, Ledger featured in The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, The Four Feathers, Ned Kelly, The Order and The Brother's Grimm.
2003 saw him named as one of Australian GQ's Men of the Year for acting.
2005: His performance in Brokeback Mountain gained him awards from both the New York Film Critics' Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics' Circle. In the film, he plays Ennis Del Mar, a Wyoming ranch hand who has an affair with a rodeo rider, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. His performance also received a Golden Globe award for Best Actor In A Drama and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. At 26, he was one of the youngest actors to have been nominated for this award.
Also in 2005, he starred in Casanova, playing the lead role opposite Sienna Miller. In 2006, Ledger was asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and then in 2007, he was one of six actors chosen to portray different versions of Bob Dylan in the highly acclaimed motion picture, I'm Not There.
Ledger then played the iconic comic book villain The Joker in The Dark Knight, the sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins, opposite Christian Bale. As The Dark Knight was in the post-production stage at the time of Ledger's death, the film itself will be unchanged, although the viral marketing campaign that centred on Ledger's character may now be changed
Heath Ledger had aspirations to become a film director. He had already made some music videos. Three of these were for singer Ben Harper, with whom he had set up a record label and two for the Australian hip-hop artist N'fa
As a step towards making a film about deceased English songwriter, Nick drake, he created a short film set to Drake's song 'Black Eyed Dog'
He was also working on an adaptation of The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis, with writer/producer Allan Scott. This would have been his first feature as a director.
Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment on January 22nd 2008. His housekeeper arrived at around 12:30pm to carry out household chores and found him face down on the bed and reported to hear him snoring. His masseuse then arrived and tried to wake the unresponsive Ledger. When she could not rouse him, she used his cellphone to call Ms. Olsen in California to seek her guidance, knowing Ms. Olsen to be a friend of Mr. Ledger's.
Ms. Wolozin again shook Mr. Ledger, called Ms. Olsen again and said she would call the emergency services. Ms. Wolozin called 911 at 3:26 p.m. and reported that Mr. Ledger was not breathing. Ms. Wolozin's efforts to revive Ledger were unsuccessful. Emergency medical workers arrived at 3:33 p.m.. They moved his body to the floor and then used a defibrillator and CPR, but to no avail.
Mr. Ledger was pronounced dead at 3:36 p.m.
The police had found prescription medication in the bathroom and that there were not any obvious signs of suicide. Nor did they suspect foul play. An initial autopsy carried out on January 23 proved inconclusive at determining the cause of death. The medical examiner stated that it would take about 10 days to complete the investigation.
Michelle Williams, Ledger's ex-partner, made a statement on 1st February 2008, expressing her heartbreak and described how she saw his spirit living on through their daughter, Matilda. She concluded her statement with the words "She (Matilda) will be brought up with the best memories of him."