The news of Heath Ledger's death broke very shortly after the event on tmz.com. I don't know how these guys do it, they must have sources everywhere, but from the time I left the house to go to a yoga class and came back, he had died, the news was out and someone had called my flatmate who then informed me. In the space of 2 and half hours! In fact there is little doubt that the whole world knew before some of his nearest and dearest.
The media then latched onto this one big stylie. I keep waiting to hear the news that Britney has died but would never have thought that it would be Heath Ledger. I was never a die hard fan, but thought he was really cute in A Knights Tale and absolutely brilliant in Brokeback Mountain. But other than that he wasn't really on the radar. He had a relationship with Dawson's Creek alum Michelle Williams and they had a baby together, Matilda. Other than a few red carpet events, and the odd picture of him pushing his daughter on a swing, he didn't really rate on the gossip columns. The last year or so, anytime he appeared he was looking pretty rough, or getting in trouble for giving reporters guff. This lead me to jump to the same cliched conclusion as everyone else on hearing of his death, 'must have been drugs, or suicide.' In fact the police reports no illegal drugs were found in the apartment, but a fair amount of prescription and over the counter anxiety and sleeping medication. The full toxicology reports will be out in a few weeks.
There is also the mysterious events surrounding the reporting of his death. His housekeeper and a masseuse (who as an aside is now in trouble because she is not certified to practice in New York) found him face down, naked on his bed and unresponsive. The masseuse used his mobile to call Mary Kate Olsen, before anyone else. Mary Kate said she would send some security people over. I guess I can see the logic in that. Maybe she wasn't aware of the severity of the situation and wanted to keep the whole thing on the down low. Who knows. Its come out know that Mary Kate and Heath were casually dating for the last few months, so thats why she was on speed dial.
So all of the above, while no doubt hard for his family to be constantly hit with, I think is reasonable news and speculation. However I think things overstepped the mark when there was a wall of photographers lined up outside his apartment building in the same way they would be on the red carpet, to photograph his body bag been taken out of the building. And then worse the pictures been published everywhere. Thats just horrible. He was a real person, as are his family and that was totally disrespectful.
Then there was Michelle Williams arriving home from Sweden with Matilda, where she was on location. Maybe a quick photo of her at the airport would have been somewhat acceptable, but to have to pass through a frenzied throng of paparazzi at her house late at night with her 2 year old daughter in tow is out of order.
There was a private viewing today at the funeral home for family and friends. They again were faced with hundreds of paps and mainstream media. And now his remains have been moved to a private airport to be brought home to Australia, no doubt it will be the same story again there.
It seems with celebrities we forget that they are normal people too who just happen to do a job which puts them in the limelight. Heath Ledger lived his private life as much as possible away from the camera lens, he just seemed to want to get on with things. Now we should let his family get on with grieving in peace. Will it happen though, I doubt it, but it has certainly made me re-think my feeding frenzy mentality on celebrities!
I'm a legal type and I've bits of blonde and I much prefer writing about trashy gossip than legal documents, but who wouldn't!!View all articles by Sile Aine