Actor. He is best remembered for his role of Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award Oscar as Best Actor. He was awarded a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his last role of The Joker in the 2008 Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." Born Heath Andrew Ledger in Perth, Western Australia, the son of Kim and Sally Ramshaw Ledger, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. He excelled in sports and drama while attending a private all-boys school called Guildford Grammar, and as he grew older, he decided he liked drama better than field hockey, even though he had been selected for the State U17 Squad. His first acting role was as Peter Pan, at age 10, with a local theater company. He took drama in high school, and after graduation, went with a friend to Sydney to find work as an actor. His first real job acting was a small role in a low budget Australian film, "Blackrock" (1997). After several more small roles in Australian films and failing to become noticed, he decided to try to improve his success by moving to Hollywood, in 1999. Initially having poor luck getting into American films, he took the role of Jimmy in "Two Hands" (1999), an Australian film which gave him the lead role and helped him to secure a role in "Ten Things I Hate About You" (1999), which in turn, helped to establish him with American audiences. His next role, that of son Gabriel Martin in "The Patriot" (2000) opposite fellow Australian actor Mel Gibson who plays his father, he won good acclaim. His next few roles were inconsistent, in that Ledger was worried about being typecast; these roles won some praise and other roles were a flop. His lead role of Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein in "A Knight's Tale" (2001) again won the critical approval of the audience, but his role of Ned Kelly in the 2003 film of the same name was a complete failure. He finally achieved success with his role in "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), for which he was nominated for Best Actor Oscar. His fiancée, Michelle Williams, had given birth to a daughter, Matilda Rose Ledger, on October 28, 2005; he called off their engagement in September 2007. He had just finished playing the role of criminal mastermind The Joker, in the Batman film "The Dark Knight" (2008), and was in the middle of filming his last role in the film "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," when he was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparently accidental overdose of prescription drugs, including pain killers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication." A memorial service was held for him at Penrhos College in Perth, Western Australia, and his body was cremated at the Fremantle Cemetery, with his ashes scattered in the family plot at Karrakatta Cemetery, next to his two grandparents. That evening, his parents and several family friends held a private wake on Cottesloe Beach. In February 2009, Ledger received final honors on his acting career with a posthumous Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his final film, "The Dark Knight" (2008).
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson