Family and personal life
Heath Ledger was born on 4 April 1979, in Perth, Western Australia, the son of Sally Ledger Bell (née Ramshaw), a French teacher, and Kim Ledger, a racing-car driver and mining engineer, whose family established and owned the Ledger Engineering Foundry. The Sir Frank Ledger Charitable Trust is named after his great-grandfather. 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, with 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's and Kate's other siblings include two half-sisters, Ashleigh Bell (b. 1989), his mother's daughter with her second husband and his stepfather Roger Bell, and Olivia Ledger (b. 1997), his father's daughter with second wife and his stepmother Emma Brown.
Ledger was an avid chess player, winning Western Australia's junior chess championship at the age of 10. As an adult, he often played with other chess enthusiasts at Washington Square Park. Allan Scott's film adaptation of the chess-related 1983 novel The Queen's Gambit, by Walter Tevis, which at the time of his death he was planning both to perform in and to direct, would have been Ledger's first feature film as a director.
Among his most-notable romantic relationships, Ledger dated actress Heather Graham for several months in 2000 to 2001, and he had a serious on-and-off-again long-term relationship with actress Naomi Watts, whom he met during the filming of Ned Kelly and with whom he lived at times from 2002 to 2004. In the summer of 2004, he met and began dating actress Michelle Williams on the set of Brokeback Mountain, and their daughter, Matilda Rose, was born on 28 October 2005 in New York City. Matilda Rose's godparents are Ledger's Brokeback co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Williams' Dawson's Creek castmate Busy Philipps. Problems with paparazzi in Australia prompted Ledger to sell his residence in Bronte, New South Wales and move to the United States, where he shared an apartment with Williams, in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, from 2005 to 2007. In September 2007, Williams' father, Larry Williams, confirmed to Sydney's Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had ended their relationship. After his break up with Williams, in late 2007 and early 2008, the tabloid press and other public media linked Ledger romantically with supermodels Helena Christensen and Gemma Ward and with former child star, actress Mary-Kate Olsen.
8 years ago