At about 2:45 p.m. (EST), on 22 January 2008, 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 neighborhood of Manhattan. 
According to the police, Wolozin, who had arrived early for a 3:00 p.m. appointment with Ledger, called Ledger's friend, actress 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 p.m., "[fewer] than 15 minutes after Wolozin first saw him in bed and only a few moments" after first calling Olsen and then calling her a second time to express her fears that Ledger was dead, 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.
Emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrived seven minutes later, at 3:33 p.m. ("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 p.m., Ledger was pronounced dead and his body removed from the apartment.
Memorial tributes and services
Memorial for Heath Ledger, outside 421 Broome Street, SoHo, Manhattan, 23 January 2008As the news of Ledger's death became public, throughout the night of 22 January 2008, and the next day, media crews, mourners, fans, and other onlookers began gathering outside his apartment building, with some leaving flowers or other memorial tributes.
On 23 January 2008, at 10:50 a.m., Australian time, Ledger's parents and sister appeared outside his mother's house in Applecross, a riverside suburb of Perth, and read a short statement to the media expressing their grief and desire for privacy. Within the next few days, memorial tributes were communicated by family members, Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, Deputy Premier of Western Australia Eric Ripper, Warner Bros. (distributor of The Dark Knight), and thousands of Ledger's fans around the world.
Several actors made statements expressing their sorrow at Ledger's death, including Daniel Day-Lewis, who dedicated his Screen Actors Guild Award to Ledger, saying that he was inspired by Ledger's acting; Day-Lewis praised Ledger's performances in Monster's Ball and Brokeback Mountain, describing the latter as "unique, perfect."
On 1 February 2008, in her first public statement after Ledger's death, Michelle Williams expressed her heartbreak and described Ledger's spirit as surviving in their daughter.
After attending private memorial ceremonies in Los Angeles, Ledger's family members returned with his body to Perth.
On 9 February 2008, a memorial service attended by several hundred invited guests was held at Penrhos College, garnering considerable press attention; afterward Ledger's body was cremated at Fremantle Cemetery, followed by a private service attended by only 10 closest family members, with his ashes to be interred later in a family plot at Karrakatta Cemetery, next to two of his grandparents. Later that night, his family and friends gathered for a wake on Cottesloe Beach.
Autopsy and toxicological analysis
After two weeks of intense media speculation about possible causes of Ledger's death, on 6 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 also states definitively: "We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications." The medications found in the toxicological analysis are commonly prescribed in the United States for insomnia, anxiety, depression, pain, and/or cold symptoms. Although the Associated Press and other media reported that "police estimate Ledger's time of death between 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m." (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 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Controversy over will
After Ledger's 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 the Ledger family's "absolute priority" and her mother, Michelle Williams, "an integral part of our family," adding "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 31 March 2008, stimulating another controversy pertaining to Ledger's estate, Gemma Jones and Janet Fife-Yeomans published an "Exclusive" report, in The Daily Telegraph, citing Ledger's uncle Haydn Ledger and other family members, who "believe the late actor may have fathered a secret love child" when he was 17, and stating that "If it is confirmed that Ledger is the girl's biological father, it could split his multi-million dollar estate between ... Matilda Rose ... and his secret love child." A few days later, reports citing telephone interviews with Ledger's uncles Haydn and Mike Ledger and the family of the other little girl, published in OK! and Us Weekly, "denied" those "claims", with Ledger's uncles and the little girl's mother and stepfather describing them as unfounded "rumors" distorted and exaggerated by the media.
On 15 July 2008, Fife-Yeomans reported further, via Australian News Limited, that "While Ledger left everything to his parents and three sisters, it is understood they have legal advice that under WA law, Matilda Rose is entitled to the lion's share" of his estate; its executors, Kim Ledger's former business colleague Robert John Collins and Geraldton accountant William Mark Dyson, "have applied for probate in the West Australian Supreme Court in Perth, advertising "for 'creditors and other persons' having claims on the estate to lodge them by 11 August 2008 ... to ensure all debts are paid before the estate is distributed...." According to this report by Fife-Yeomans, earlier reports citing Ledger's uncles, and subsequent reports citing Ledger's father, which do not include his actual posthumous earnings, "his entire fortune, mostly held in Australian trusts, is likely to be worth up to [A]$20 million."
On 27 September 2008, Ledger's 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." In October 2008, Forbes.com estimated Ledger's annual earnings from October 2007 through October 2008 –– including his posthumous share of The Dark Knight 's gross income of "[US]$991 million in box office revenue worldwide" –– as "[US]$20 million."
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