Billy Crystal's Voicemails from Robin Williams Will Make You Miss Him Even More


It’s easy to think that many celebrities lack authenticity. After all, in our image-obsessed media culture, putting forward a particular persona seems easier than actually being yourself.

This appears especially true when dealing with Hollywood types, people who pretend for a living. Remember how squeaky-clean Reese Witherspoon got charged with disorderly conduct during a DUI arrest or dad-next-door Bill Cosby was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault?

Actors act, and their true selves don’t always match the people we seen on screen. For one famous thespian, though, his celluloid antics abided even when the cameras stopped rolling.

Comedic genius Robin Williams had a reputation for keeping the laughs rolling in real life, and his love of pranks was legendary. Pierce Brosnan once described how he met Williams on the set of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” saying, “I walked into the trailer and there was Robin in a pair of UGG boots, hairy legs, shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and hairy chest.

“That’s how I met Robin Williams, and that’s how I met Mrs. Doubtfire. And I had the time of my life.”

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Williams also used humor to soothe sad situations. When long-time acting friend Christopher Reeve became paralyzed after a riding accident, the former Superman found himself sunk in a desperate depression.

“Then, at an especially bleak moment,” he wrote in his autobiography “Still Me,” “the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately.”

A confused Reeve initially thought “that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged,” but that bizarre physician turned out to be Williams, there to comfort his chum. It worked.

“And for the first time since the accident, I laughed,” Reeve stated. “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

The HBO documentary “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” shows that Williams often did something similar for pal Billy Crystal. How? Through the power of voicemails.

Williams liked to invent characters just to see if he could make Crystal laugh. “Hello, Bill, it’s Lord Sisley,” one voicemail began, Williams aping a stuffy British accent.

“I’m in Africa, and dear God, man, you should be here. There’s creatures who would adore you.

“I send you all my love, but not like that day in boys school. Something different. Something wonderful. A hug.”

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Later, when America’s 40th president, Ronald Regan, had passed away, Williams rang up Crystal, pretending to be the Gipper. “I’m in this strange place, and it seems to be quite hot here,” he intoned.

Crystal returned the favor when Williams underwent heart surgery in 2009. The “When Harry Met Sally Star” called, telling Williams that he was Vinnie the Valve Guy, a mechanic who had supplied parts for the comic’s ticker.

“As the friendship really grew and grew, we kind of needed each other more,” Crystal says in the documentary. “Everybody wanted something from him. I just liked him.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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