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Billy Crystal leads Emmy tribute for late friend Robin Williams

"As genius as he was on stage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine," Crystal said of Williams.

By Karen Butler
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Billy Crystal leads Emmy tribute for late friend Robin Williams
Robin Williams is seen on screen as Billy Crystal speaks during an In Memoriam tribute during the Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on August 25, 2014. UPI/Pat Benic. | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Billy Crystal offered a heartfelt tribute to his late friend Robin Williams during Monday's Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

The star-studded, annual prize presentation honors excellence in television. In addition to his legendary stand-up comedy and film-acting careers, Williams also starred in the TV sitcoms Mork & Mindy and The Crazy Ones. He, Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg hosted a series of Comic Relief television specials, which raised money for the homeless, as well.

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Williams hung himself in his home earlier this month after years of battling drug addiction and depression. He was 63.

"He made us laugh. Hard. Every time you saw him," Crystal said of Williams in a separate segment after the traditional "In Memoriam," which came more than two hours into the Emmys broadcast on NBC.

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"He made us laugh. Big time. I spent many happy hours with Robin on stage. The brilliance was astounding. The relentless energy was kind of thrilling. I used to think if I could put a saddle on him and stay on him for eight seconds, I was going to do OK," Crystal continued, smiling even when his voice trembled a bit. "As genius as he was on stage, 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 a 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. The glow will be be so bright, it'll warm your heart. It will make your eyes glisten and you'll think to yourselves: 'Robin Williams! What a concept!'"

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