On This Day In History: Heath Ledger Found Dead At 28-Years-Old In 2008

On this day, in 2008, the headline coming from the media was that Heath Ledger was dead at the young age of 28. According to a report by CNN, shortly after Ledger’s death, the cause of death was labeled as an accidental overdose. A statement released from the office of the New York Medical Examiner went into more detail about the drugs that were in Heath’s system.

“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine. We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.”

Heath Ledger

Oxycodone, commonly known as Percocet, and hydrocodone, commonly known as Vicodin, are strong narcotic painkillers. Diazepam, known as Valium, and alprazolam, known as Xanax, are medications used to treat anxiety. Temazepam, known as Restoril, and doxylamine, known as Unisom, are medications used to treat insomnia.

Due to the types and amounts of drugs in Ledger’s system, the DEA mad a request for the medication records. Garrison Courtney, a representative from the DEA explained why the DEA was going to be doing an investigation into Heath’s death.

“We will investigate any leads in respect to this. In any case, we look to see whether prescription drugs were illegally obtained or whether it was through proper channels.”

Kim Ledger, Heath’s father, commented about the untimely death of his son and how grateful the family was from the support of his fans.

“While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath’s accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage. Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet. This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives. We are eternally grateful.”

Heath Ledger Screen Actors Guild

Prior to Ledger’s death, Heath had taken on the iconic role of the Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. Ledger’s preparation for becoming the Joker is now widely known. Heath had decided to use method acting as a way to get into the psychotic mind of the Joker. In order to become the Joker, Ledger made a diary to help him get into, and stay in character, while filming of The Dark Knight.

In a report by the Daily Mail, fans were given a glimpse of what was in Heath’s Joker diary. Inside the diary were pictures of violence and of other iconic movie characters that were insane. Ledger had apparently locked himself in a hotel room in order to completely immerse himself into becoming the Joker. On the final page of the diary, Heath eerily wrote the words “bye bye.”

An interview of Ledger by Empire Online gave the world more insight into Heath’s mindset of getting into character.

“I definitely feared it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown, and Chris has given me free rein. Which is fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke”

After Ledger’s death, Jack Nicholson was interviewed due to the fact that Nicholson had experience playing the Joker. Nicholson said, “I warned him” in relation to Heath throwing himself into the character.

Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker is considered to be the best adaptation of Batman’s arch enemy. Due to his stellar performance, Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded an Academy Award. His family accepted the award on his behalf.

A documentary dedicated to the famous actor, Too Young To Die, is available on YouTube.

What role do you most remember Heath Ledger for?

[Featured Image By Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo]