Comedian Billy Crystal honored his colleague and longtime friend Robin Williams on Monday night to cap off the award show’s traditional segment honoring performers who have died over the past year.
“He could be funny anywhere,” Crystal recalled. “He would come to all of our great family functions — weddings, bar mitzvahs, that kind of thing. He would sit with my older immigrant relatives, like he was one of the guys, and he would tell them about his journey from his little shtetl in Poland to America. One uncle of mine said, ‘I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.’ Robin said, ‘I wanted until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'”
Crystal, Williams and Whoppi Goldberg hosted the American version of the Comic Relief telethon between 1986 and 2006. Williams was found dead earlier this month in his northern California home following an apparent suicide. His wife, Susan Schneider, later said Williams was suffering from depression and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time.
“As genius as he was onstage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine,” Crystal said Monday night. “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 the comedy galaxy.”
Watch Crystal’s remarks, as posted online on Monday, below.