Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight, I'm Not There) was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan residence in a possible drug-related death, police said. He was 28.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the Manhattan apartment believed to be his home. The housekeeper who went to let Ledger know the masseuse was there found him dead at 3:26 p.m.

The Australian-born actor was an Oscar nominee for his role in Brokeback Mountain and has numerous other screen credits.

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Heath Ledger will next be seen in the highly anticipated Batman sequel The Dark Knight and was currently shooting the Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in New York City.

UPDATE

At 3:31 p.m., a masseuse arrived at Apartment 5A in the building for an appointment with Mr. Ledger, the police said. The masseuse was let in to the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of Mr. Ledger's bedroom. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger unconscious. They shook him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities. The police said they did not suspect foul play and said they found pills near his body.

The actor was found face down at the foot of his bed with prescription sleeping pills nearby. There was no obvious indication that the actor had committed suicide. About the tragic loss, Ledger's former The Patriot co-star Mel Gibson stated, "I had such great hope for him. He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss."

A crowd of about three hundred gathered to watch Ledger's body be removed from the apartment. He was wheeled out on a gurney and placed in a medical examiner's office van. Medical examiner's office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said that an autopsy was planned for Wednesday.

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B. Alan Orange