Sara Bareilles set the tone for a somber few moments at the Emmy Awards on Monday evening. Singing 'Smile' as tribute was paid to those in and surrounding the industry who passed away this year, including Paul Walker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Pardo, James Garner, Maya Angelou, Lauren Bacall, and more, Sara Bareilles wasn't introduced. She simply appeared on stage, simply but elegantly dressed in black, and sang. Nothing touched hearts the way Billy Crystal did when he honored his dear friend Robin Williams at the end of her performance, however.
The Robin Williams tribute was expected, as it had been advertised throughout the past few days on news programs and talk shows. Once Sara Bareilles set the stage for Billy Crystal, viewers and members of the audience were beyond prepared to shed a few tears. And shed they did.
Billy Crystal did his best to keep it light--clearly struggling and choking back tears during his first few seconds speaking. Getting himself in check, he then shared stories about Robin Williams that many likely never heard before.
Some of the more poignant excerpts from the tribute included the following:
"He made us laugh. Hard. Every time you saw him. On television, movies, night clubs, arenas, hospitals, homeless shelters, for our troops overseas, and even in a dying girl's living room for her last wish."
"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 for 8 seconds I was going to do OK."
"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 the comedy galaxy."
In closing, Billy Crystal said, "But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies actually are 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, make your eyes glisten and you'll think to yourselves, Robin Williams, what a concept."
At the end of the Emmy Awards Monday night, two things remained abundantly clear. One: Billy Crystal loved his dear friend and paid homage to him using humor. And two: Sara Bareilles played a much bigger role in the evening than anyone expected. Her rendition of 'Smile' is no doubt drifting through the minds of viewers today, and they will forever remember her voice leading up to Billy Crystal's tribute to Robin Williams.