After the In Memoriam segment, Billy Crystal offered a very touching, emotional tribute to his close friend, Robin Williams, who died two weeks ago. “He made us laugh, hard, every time we saw him,” Crystal said.
He told a couple of stories, including one time when he, Williams and Whoopi Goldberg went to Shea Stadium for a Comic Relief event. Williams wasn’t really a big baseball fan (his favorite team was “The San Franciscos”) but he got a kick out of pretending to be a baseball player from Russia.
Williams was also apparently a big presence at Crystal family functions — he bonded with older immigrant relatives “like he was one of the guys,” and make up stories about his past. “As genius as he was on stage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine — supportive, protective loving,” Crystal said, his voice shaking. “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.”
Here’s an excerpt from the full speech as transcribed by Vulture’s Alex Jung:
Well, 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’ll warm your heart, it’ll make your eyes glisten, and it’ll make you think to yourselves: Robin Williams, what a concept.
— Billy Crystal
— E! Online (@eonline) August 26, 2014
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) August 26, 2014