Billy Crystal remembered Robin Williams, who died Aug. 11 at 63, during the Emmys memorial segment Monday evening.
Before Crystal’s tribute, the Emmys also remembered other stars who died this year, including Paul Walker, James Avery, Ann B. Davis, Shirley Temple, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, and Sid Caesar, in a video segment that played as Sara Bareilles sang Nat King Cole’s “Smile” live.
The video segment ended on a photo of Robin Williams as Billy Crystal began his tribute onstage. “He made us laugh. Hard,” Crystal started. “Every time you saw him.” Crystal and Williams starred in 1997 comedy Fathers’ Day together and also both had supporting roles in 1996’s Hamlet.
Crystal was a good friend of Williams’ and told stories of how Williams used to attend Crystal’s family functions and talk to his “immigrant relatives like he was one of the guys,” how he once posed as a Russian baseball player at a Shea Stadium event and lit up at the opportunity to play a character. “As genius as he was onstage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine,” Crystal said. “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.”
The tribute ended with clips of Williams performing on multiple shows, ranging from his first Tonight Show performance in 1981 to a stand-up performance where he offered a touching story about laughing through life.
Backstage, stars wore green ribbons on their formal wear, encouraging those struggling with mental illness to get help. “I dealt with it firsthand and lost someone really dear to me,” Allison Janney said. “Everyone is feeling that.”
Natalie Abrams contributed reporting.