Actor Michael J Fox stunned Robin Williams had Parkinson's

Actor Michael J Fox, who has fought a public battle with Parkinson's disease since the '90s, was stunned to learn about Williams' diagnosis.

He tweeted his response after Susan Schneider, the wife of late comedian Robin Williams, revealed her husband was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's disease at the time of his apparent suicide.

Fox was diagnosed with the disease in 1991 but did not disclose it until seven years later.

Since then, he has been a strong advocate for research aiming to find a cure.

Struggled with own battles

Williams was found hanged at his home on Monday.

Schneider said he "was not yet ready to share publicly" his struggle with Parkinson's, an incurable and debilitating nervous system disorder that causes tremors and slowness of movement.

Williams "struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as (the disease)," added the 63-year-old actor's widow (below).

She said: "It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."

Following the Oscar-winner's death, there has been a outpouring of grief and tributes to the much-loved actor and Schneider acknowledged that.

"Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles," said Schneider.

Sources: The Guardian, AFP