Robert Downey Jr. Touchingly Memorializes His Late Mother on Facebook

Robert Downey Jr. Memorializes His Mother on Facebook
Robert Downey Jr. and his mother, Elsie Ann Ford, in 2009
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

09/27/2014 AT 12:45 PM EDT

Robert Downey Jr. has shared some very personal news with his fans: his mother, Elsie Ann Ford, passed away Monday at age 80.

In a heartfelt tribute on his Facebook page Friday, he revealed that she was his inspiration for not only achieving success in Hollywood, but for ultimately getting sober.

"A generic 'obit' won't suffice," wrote Downey Jr., who explained that after she dropped out of college in the '50s, she headed to New York "with dreams of becoming a comedienne." It was there where she met his father, Robert Downey Sr.

Elsie went on to appear in several of Downey Sr.'s films, including Moment to Moment, in which her son says "she played 17 characters."

Sadly, by the '70s, Downey Jr. wrote, "She was an alcoholic."

After splitting with her husband, the family lived in a Manhattan apartment that he says was less than luxurious: "[A] Bunsen burner for a stove, cockroaches, broken dreams." But by 1990, his mother "had enough," and "went to treatment, got sober. Just in time to enjoy several decades of heart disease, bypasses, you name it."

Though his mom was able to keep her demons at bay, Downey Jr.'s early career suffered thanks to his own.

"While I strived to have the kind of success that eluded her, my own addiction repeatedly forbade it."

In the summer of 2004, "I was in bad shape," he said, and a call from his mother "out of the blue" caused him to admit to his addictions.

"I don't remember what she said," he explained. "But I haven't drank or used since."

Downey Jr., whose latest project, The Judge, deals with the topic of an aging parent, closed out his tribute with the revelation that his defining qualities come from his mother. "My ambition, tenacity, loyalty, 'moods,' grandiosity, occasional passive aggression, and my faith ... That's all her," he wrote. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."



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