Veteran actor Billy Crystal saluted his late friend and fellow funnyman Robin Williams as a comedic “genius” in a touching tribute at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles last night.
The Oscar-winning star committed suicide at his California home on August 11 and his close pal Crystal was given the task of memorializing Williams at the annual prizegiving, which salutes the best in TV.
Taking to the stage at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live at the end of the traditional In Memoriam segment, which was set to the tune of Sara Bareilles singing a moving rendition of Nat King Cole classic “Smile,” Crystal recalled how he used to struggle to keep up with his old friend’s quick wit and mountains of energy as they performed together in the early days of their careers.
Crystal said, “He made us laugh, hard… He made us laugh, big time. I spent many hours with Robin onstage. I mean, the brilliance was astounding, the relentless energy was, kind of, thrilling. I used to think if I could just put a saddle on him and stay on for eight seconds I would be OK…”
He continued, “As genius as he was onstage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine: supportive, protective, loving. It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives.
“For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy. But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cooled, but miraculously, because they float in the heavens so far away from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever and the glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart, it will make your eyes glisten and you’ll think to yourselves, ‘Robin Williams, what a concept.'”
Ironically, the late funnyman honored Jonathan Winters during the same Emmy Awards segment last year.
Others remembered in the In Memoriam piece, prior to Crystal’s heartwarming tribute to Williams, included Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Paul Walker, James Garner, Peter O’Toole, Maya Angelou, Bob Hoskins, Mickey Rooney and Harold Ramis.