Robert Downey Jr has written a moving tribute to his mother on his Facebook page following the news of her death on Monday last week, writing, "If anyone out there has a mother, and she's not perfect, please call her and say you love her anyway".
He goes onto chronicle her career as an actress, her battles with alcohol addiction and how she ultimately inspired him to become sober after his own struggles.
"My mom passed away early this week....I wanna say something about her life, and a generic "obit" won't suffice," the actor began his public tribute to his mother, Elsie Ann Ford, who died on Monday 22 September at the age of 80 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
"In the mid '50s, she dropped out of college and headed to NY, with dreams of becoming a comedienne," the Iron-Man and Sherlock Holmes star wrote. He explained how in she met his father, the director and filmographer Robert Downey Sr in 1962, married him, and gave birth to his sister Allyson in 1963 and him in 1965.
The actor described his mother’s bold career inspired by the “underground counter-culture” of the 1960s, which included a film in which she played 17 different characters.
"By the mid '70s, the downside of drug culture caught up with many artists. She was an alcoholic," Downey Junior continued.
Her marriage and career subsequently suffered due to alcohol addiction and the actor recounted living with his mother after she had divorced his father.
"I remember living with her and her boyfriend Jonas, (who became a second father to me) in a 2 room 5 story walk up in Manhattan after that...Bunsen burner for a stove, cockroaches, broken dreams..."
His mother eventually sought treatment and by 1990 she was sober, though she continued to have health problems, he wrote. However by this point, Downey launched his own acting career and began suffering alcohol addiction himself.
"While I strived to have the kind of success that eluded her, my own addiction repeatedly forbade it." he wrote. "In the summer of 2004, I was in bad shape. She (his mother) called me out of the blue, and I admitted everything. I don't remember what she said, but I haven't drank or used since."
The actor then moved his mother to Los Angeles to be near him and his children, noting that ”she had a special affinity for my firstborn son Indio, and really got a kick out of (younger son) Exton." (Downey and his wife Susan are also expecting a baby girl in November.)
"She was my role model as an actor, and as a woman who got sober and stayed that way."
"My ambition, tenacity, loyalty, "moods," grandiosity, occasional passive aggression, and my faith... That's all her...and I wouldn't have it any other way."
Read Robert Downey Jr.'s full letter here
Robert Downey Jr. with his mother Elsie Downey and wife Susan Downey
Images: Rex Features, Getty, Robert Downey Jr/Facebook