The late Robin Williams was honored at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards Monday during the In Memoriam segment. The tribute was lead by Billy Crystal, a longtime friend of Williams, and featured a performance from singer Sara Bareilles.
Bareilles sang Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” while a slideshow of various figures in the television community who died in the last year played. Ann B. Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O’Toole, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Elaine Stritch, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, Maya Angelou and more were included.
After the song ended, Crystal spoke movingly about Williams. “He made you laugh hard. … I spent many happy hours with him on stage.”
Crystal recounted stories of Williams knowing nothing about baseball and pretending his favorite team was “The San Franciscos.” Williams made himself fit right in with the older immigrants in Crystal’s family, cracking jokes about immigrating to the U.S. when family members recounted their stories. “I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal,” Williams said, according to Crystal.
The comedian described Williams as 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 our lives.”
Crystal also compared Williams to a celestial being -- “Their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever.”
A few clips of some of Williams’ funniest jokes played. On one talk show, Williams said, “God gave us a brain and a penis and only enough blood to run one.”
The tribute ended with the lights of Nokia Theatre fading, leaving Williams' image as the only source of light in the auditorium.
Williams was found dead in his Northern California home on Aug. 11. The comedian had been battling depression and early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Police confirmed that the comedian hanged himself, and records show that his ashes have been scattered in San Francisco Bay.
Williams’ big break on television was his role in the 1970s as Mork on “Mork & Mindy,” which earned him an Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy nomination. Williams won two Emmys in his career. The first was a 1987 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for “Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin.” He won the same award in 1988 for “ABC Presents: A Royal Gala.”