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(USA TODAY) -- David Letterman talked at length on Monday night in a loving tribute to his friend Robin Williams, sharing stories and photos and thoughts of the comedian he said he had known for 38 years.

He recalled Williams back in their early comedy club days.

"It was like nothing we had seen before. … We're like morning dew and he comes in like a hurricane. … We didn't approach him because we were afraid of him. Honest to God, you thought holy crap here goes my chance at show business… "

But Letterman really got to know him when he would come on his show. He appeared nearly 50 times.

"It was just a pleasure to know the guy."

Letterman said two things would happen when he came on.

"One, I didn't have to do anything. Two, people would watch. Viewership would go up because people wanted to see Robin."

He shared a vintage photo of himself with Williams, comedian and actor Richard Pryor, and Comedy Store founder Mitzi Shore.

The late-night host then ran a montage of Williams' appearances, saying,

"Moreover, more than anything, it will make you laugh, and really, that's what we should take from this … He could make you laugh under any circumstances."

"Oh my," an emotional Letterman said when the video came to a close.

"Well, what I will add here is, beyond being a very talented man, and a good friend, and a gentleman, I'm sorry, like everybody else, I had no idea that the man was in pain, that the man was suffering. What a guy, Robin Williams."

Mara Wilson, who played the little girl in Mrs. Doubtfire, is also remembering Williams. Read her moving tribute here.

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