Billy Crystal is an popular American actor, comedian & television host. He shot to prominence playing the role of Jodie Dallas, a homosexual character in the TV show, Soap. He went on to act in many films and plays. Born into a family already in the entertainment business, it was only natural that he too adopted it as his profession too, though for a long time he fancied himself as baseball pro. He must have been very good in that sport for he did win himself a scholarship. But he soon changed course and majored in Theatre and Fine Arts. His career peaked in the 1980 and 1990s with movies like Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, and Analyze This. He has hosted the Oscar Awards at least eight times and the Grammys three times in his career. He has also made his mark as a director and writer of screen plays for movies. In addition to his many Golden Globe Award-nominations, Emmy Awards, and Tony Award, he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for 700 Sundays and received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2007. Despite his successes, he is a well-grounded man who takes pride in his happy family life and is also a large-hearted philanthropist.
Childhood & Early Life
Crystal was born at Doctors Hospital in Manhattan to Helen and Jack Crystal, who owned and operated the Commodore Music Store. Jack also promoted an affiliated jazz record label, Commodore Records.
He and older brothers, Joel and Richard, were raised initially in the Bronx and then on Long Island. They would entertain by reprising well-known comedians. His father lost his business and died in 1963.
He graduated from Long Beach High School in 1965. He joined Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia on a baseball scholarship but discontinued after the first year.
He attended Nassau Community College and New York University, and graduated in 1970 with a BFA from its Tisch School of the Arts. One of his instructors there was the director, Martin Scorsese.
Crystal returned to New York City and performed regularly at The Improv and Catch a Rising Star comedy clubs. He appeared in episodes on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast and NBC Saturday Night.
In 1978, Rabbit Test, he starred in a comedy motion picture about the world's first pregnant man, directed by Joan Rivers. Title was derived from the rabbit test used to determine pregnancy.
Until 1981, his most significant television work was as Jodie Dallas in the serial, Soap. Jodie was a homosexual character and he was one of the pioneers for portraying a homosexual unambiguously.
In 1982, he hosted his own variety show, The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour, on NBC. However, the show got cancelled abruptly midway and only the first two episodes were aired.
He became a regular cast on the Saturday Night Live in 1984. His parody of Fernando Lamas, Fernando, an ingratiating talk-show host whose tagline, "You look... mahvelous!," became a media hit.
He starred in the 1987 romantic comedy fantasy adventure film, The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner.
Running Scared, a 1986 action/comedy film saw him costarring Gregory Hines.
Mr. Saturday Night is a 1992 film that marked his directorial debut. It was about the career of Buddy Young Jr., a stand-up comedian, a film he produced and co wrote the screenplay.
Forget Paris, a 1995 romantic comedy film he produced, directed and co-wrote, starred him as an NBA referee and Debra Winger as an independent working woman whose lives are interrupted by love and marriage.
Analyze This, a 1999 gangster comedy film directed by Harold Ramis. The film stars him as the psychiatrist of Robert De Niro, a Mafioso. He also starred in the sequel released three years later.
Billy played Artie Decker, a baseball games announcer fired at the start of the movie Parental Guidance is a 2012. An American family-comedy film starring him alongside Bette Midler, directed by Andy Fickman.
He has lent his voice to many animation movies, one of the most recent being, Monsters University, a 3D computer animated film released by Walt Disney Pictures and produced by Pixar Animation Studios.
He starred with Meg Ryan in the 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally, which concluded that men and women cannot be just friends? It made a whopping $92,823,5 at the box-office.
He starred in City Slickers, a 1991 American western comedy film directed by Ron Underwood. It is ranked No.73 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" and number 86 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.
He has won the Primetime Emmy Awards thrice between 1989 and 1998 mostly for his outstanding performances at the Academy Awards program or Grammy Awards which are telecast live all over the world.
Between 1988 and 1993, he has won the CableAce Awards in various categories such as Best Entertainment Host, Actor in a Comedy Series, Directing a Comedy Special and Writing a Comedy Special.
He won the American Comedy Awards Funniest Male Performer for his role in the many Academy Awards of the early 1990s and also won the awards for Funniest Actor In A Motion Picture.
He won the Women in Film Crystal Award for Humanitarian Award category in 1991 and was honored with a Star on the Walk of Fame at Hollywood Blvd by Motion Picture that year.
He shared with Robert De Niro, The Blockbuster Entertainment Award, 2000 for Favorite Comedy Team category, for their film ,Analyze This, which was released a year before and proved to be a hilarious hit
Personal Life & Legacy
Billy Crystal and his wife Janice married in 1970 and reside in Pacific Palisades, California. They have two daughters, actress Jennifer, and producer Lindsay, and are proud grandparents.
Known for his philanthropy, in 1986, he started hosting Comic Relief on HBO with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg., Comic Relief was founded by Bob Zmuda and raises money for homeless people in America
This comedian, refreshingly, a complete family man, wrote children's book, "I Already Know I Love You", dedicated to Ella Ryan Foley, his granddaughter.
As a 60th birthday gift, he signed a one day minor league contract with his favorite team, New York Yankees and played his only game against Pittsburgh Pirates.