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The Emmys are usually a night for comedy and playful jabs at the celebrities who get dressed up and come to the awards, hoping to nab their very own trophies. There are somber moments too, especially during the “In Memorium” segment dedicated to the best and brightest showbiz names who have died in the past year. This year, Robin Williams’ death earned its own special spotlight during the Emmys ceremony, courtesy of his great friend Billy Crystal.
Crystal’s a comedian, but he’s always had great oratory skill. He’s had plenty of practice on an awards ceremony stage too, having hosted the Academy Awards nine times. Popping up on the Emmys tonight is a bit more unusual for the veteran host, but the role was a great fit for the man who proclaimed he had shared a friendship—and sometimes a stage—with Williams for over forty years. In the video, Crystal shares his experiences with the actor and gives us a greater understanding of what it must have been like to work with the brilliant comedian.
“I spent many hours on stage with Robin and the brilliance was astounding. His relentless energy was thrilling. I used to think if I could just put a saddle on him and stay on for eight seconds I would do okay.”
Crystal also shares stories of baseball games and Bar Mitzvahs, moments when Williams was well out of his element yet still managed to find ways to be the funniest man in the room. His jokes are nearly as vibrant when told by Crystal, who notes that it is still difficult to speak about Williams in the past tense.
""It's very hard to talk about Williams in the past because he was so present in all of our lives."
This year was a rough year for celebrity loss. Hollywood giants like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Shirley Temple, and Richard Attenborough died, as did fan favorites like Marcia Wallace, Bob Hoskins and more. Yet, Williams’ death has been one of the most affecting for the average fan, not only because of his vivid onscreen personality, but because of the magnanimous way he lived his life. As Crystal says, Williams is quite the concept.
An “In Memorium” tribute only goes a short way to fill the rift left in his absence and to help us to come to terms with that loss. Luckily, the video ends with plenty of laughter and some silence, as Williams exits the stage for the last time.