Photo: BEImages/Jim Smeal.
We knew it was coming. Yet, is there ever really time to prepare for a tribute happening 50 years too soon? Billy Crystal, who costarred with Robin Williams in the movie Father's Day and was a lifelong friend of the actor, presented a moving tribute to the fallen legend at the Emmys.
It was the perfect mixture of comedy and poignancy. You almost forgot he was eulogizing Williams, until you realized every verb was in the past tense. It was the kind of speech Williams himself would have given for a friend. The kind of speech that makes you laugh before you realize just how sad it is.
"He made us laugh, hard. Every time you saw him...the brilliance was astounding...he could be funny anywhere...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."
Crystal continued, "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 you'll think to yourself, 'Robin Williams, what a concept.'"
Billy Crystal's Emmy tribute to Robin Williams was just right, but it was still too soon.