Heath Ledger's dad vows to care for granddaughter

CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) - Heath Ledger’s father has vowed to look after the late actor’s former lover and their young daughter, even though the two were not named in his will, and appealed to family members on Monday to keep the matter private.

A will filed with a Manhattan court was reported to have been written by Ledger about three years before the birth of his daughter, Matilda, with his former companion, actress Michelle Williams, and left his entire estate to his parents and sister.

Ledger, 28, who died of an accidental overdose of prescription medicine in his New York apartment on January 22, split up from Williams, 27, in September last year.

But his father, Kim, was quick to issue a statement after the release of the will over the weekend saying that the family would stand by Williams and 2-year-old Matilda.

“Matilda is our absolute priority, and Michelle is an integral part of our family,” said the statement that was widely reported by the Australian media. “They will be taken care of and that’s how Heath would want it to be.”

But Ledger released another statement on Monday through family spokeswoman Adene Cassidy after his estranged brothers, Mike and Haydn, publicly urged Williams to seek legal advice and accused their brother of mismanaging their grandfather’s estate.

“It is sad at this extremely difficult time in our lives, while we are grieving the loss of our beloved son, that estranged family members publicly discuss matters they have not been privy to in the past or now,” Cassidy told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program.

“We hope for Matilda’s sake they will remain dignified.”

The death of Heath Ledger, who was best known for his role as a conflicted gay cowboy in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain,” shocked film fans and actors around the world and prompted warnings about mixing prescription drugs, particularly pain killers, tranquillizers and sleeping pills.