"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," New York City's medical examiner's spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement on February 6, 2008.
In other words, Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs that included painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication. The drugs are the generic names for the OxyContin painkiller, the anti-anxiety drug Valium, Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom.
One media outlet (CBS) in New York reported that hydrocodone is another name for ibuprofen, but that is incorrect information. Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from two of the naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine. Hydrocodone is an orally active narcotic analgesic and antitussive. Marketed as Vicodin, Anexsia, Dicodid, Hycodan (or generically Hydromet), Hycomine, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Novahistex, Hydroco, Tussionex, Vicoprofen, Xodol. Bekadid, Calmodid, Codinovo, Duodin, Kolikodol, Orthoxycol, Mercodinone, Synkonin, Norgan, Hydrokon, Hydrocodone is commonly available in tablet, capsule and syrup form.
Ledger was found in his New York City apartment, around the corner from Lafayette Street, last month.
Initial autopsy results were inconclusive.
Authorities have contended since the beginning of the investigation that the death of the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was caused by a possible drug overdose.
Police sources offered strong evidence of that theory to media sources, saying bottles of the prescription anxiety drugs Valium and Zoloft, along with the prescription sleeping medication Ambien were all found inside Ledger's $24,000 a month, three-bedroom loft in New York's City SoHo neighborhood.
Police confirmed that bottles of prescription drugs belonging to Ledger were taken from the apartment.
Ledger was found naked and unresponsive by a housekeeper while he was waiting for a masseuse. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
In the media circus now surrounding his death, many are talking about how moody and depressed the Oscar-nominated actor seemed since September, after he moved out of the Brooklyn home he shared with "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Michelle Williams. The two have a daughter together and were engaged to be married last year.
More significantly perhaps, in Ledger's last interview on November 4, 2007, he told the New York Times he was having trouble sleeping while filming his role as the "Joker" in an upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight (which is scheduled to open July 18, 2008). He said he had to take the prescription sleep aid Ambien and that he "probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."
Of the most well-known 15 films Ledger appeared in, several are remembered most often, including The Patriot, A Knight's Tale, and Monster's Ball. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Brokeback Mountain, which covered new ground in the discussion of gay relationships within the mainstream cinema. Most recently, Ledger was featured in the Bob Dylan biography film I'm Not There.
Several of Ledger's characters besides The Joker, such as those in the two Terry Gilliam-directed films, The Brothers Grimm and Ledger's forthcoming next film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, have been extremely edgy.
"I had such great hope for him," said fellow Australian Mel Gibson, who played Ledger's father in The Patriot, in a statement: "He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss."
In 2001, People magazine named Ledger as one of its "50 Most Beautiful People."
According to a quote from Ledger listed on his profile on the Internet Movie Database, the star enjoyed living life one day at a time.
"I'm not good at future planning. I don't plan at all," he said. "I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't have a day planner and I don't have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future."
Heath Ledger would have turned 29 on April 4, 2008.