Actor Heath Ledger Dead

Tue. January 22, 2008 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

actor heath ledger in "brokeback mountain"

Heath Ledger received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Brokeback Mountain

New York City - Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday afternoon in an apartment building, New York City police said.

Police officials told reporters the 28-year-old actor was found naked and unconscious in the bedroom of an apartment at 421 Broome Street in SoHo. He was found by a housekeeper and a masseuse who arrived at an apartment in Manhattan for an appointment with Ledger.

Police said they did not suspect foul play and said they found what appeared to be over-the-counter sleeping pills near body.

Paramedics arrived and attempted to perform CPR on Ledger, but were unable to revive him. He was declared dead at about 3:30 p.m., police said.

CNN reports that Ledger was so troubled about his role as the Joker in the upcoming film The Dark Night that he was sleeping only two hours a night and was taking Ambien but that it was not working and he still could not sleep.

Ledger, a native of Australia, won acclaim for his role as a co-star in the 2005 gay-themed film Brokeback Mountain. He played cowboy Ennis Del Mar who had a secret gay relationship with another cowboy played by actor Jake Gyllenhaal. The role earned him an Oscar nomination.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said: "Heath Ledger will forever be remembered for his groundbreaking role as Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. His powerful portrayal changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Ledger split last year from wife, Michelle Williams, with whom he has a daughter, Matilda.

Among Ledger's other films are Monster's Ball, The Brothers Grimm and Casanova. He was to appear as the Joker this year in The Dark Night, a sequel to the 2005 movie Batman Begins.