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Billy Crystal: Robin Williams’ Emmy Tribute Was “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had to Do”

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The world lost a true talent when Robin Williams passed away last month, but Billy Crystal lost a best friend. The actor spoke about the late comedian and how difficult it was to memorialize him at the Emmy Awards on Aug. 25 during an appearance on the Today show on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

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“I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. They asked me if I would do it and I said, ‘Of course.’ But then came the task of doing it right — and being the spokesman for everybody in front of 17 million people,” Crystal, 66, told Matt Lauer.

“He’s my closest friend, and to do it with some humor and only in the short period of time that I had to do it was difficult,” he added.

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Williams died of suicide at 63 on Aug. 11 following a long battle with addiction and depression. Crystal noted that the longtime friends often talked about his struggles, and contacted each other at least three or four times a day. 

“As we got older it got better and deeper and we talked about everything,” he said. “Our phone calls would go late into the night.”

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal
Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

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In his emotional Emmys tribute, Crystal recalled co-hosting Comic Relief telethons with Williams, noting how the Hook actor’s “brilliance was outstanding” and how he could be funny anywhere.

“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 our comedy galaxy,” Crystal said at the time, visibly upset. “But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now…their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever, and the glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart, it will make your eyes glisten, and you’ll think to yourselves, ‘Robin Williams. What a concept.'”

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