Billy Crystal Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Billy Crystal        

Award-winning Actor & Comic; Best Known for "When Harry Met Sally"

Award-winning actor and comic Billy Crystal was born William Edward Crystal on March 14, 1948, in Long Beach, New York. Billy Crystal has spent much of his life making people laugh. He grew up the youngest of three boys. A born entertainer, Crystal liked to sing, dance, and act with his brothers for family in their living room. "I was the little Jerry Lewis," he later told the Washington Post.

As a child, Crystal met several famous musicians and performers, including Billie Holiday, through his father, Jack Crystal, who acted as a booking agent for jazz acts. His father also ran the Commodore music store and co-founded the Commodore record label with Crystal's uncle, Milt Gabler. Crystal's father sometimes brought home comedy albums of performers such as Bill Cosby, and the recordings were early influences on the budding comic. His parents also let him stay up to watch such humorous television personalities as Jack Paar and Sid Caesar.

After graduation from college, Crystal worked as a substitute teacher. He also started a comedy group with some friends, but he eventually decided to go it alone as a stand-up comedian.

In 1975, Crystal made his first appearance on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." He appeared to be a young comedian on the rise.

Two years later, Crystal took the groundbreaking role of Jodie Dallas on the sitcom "Soap." He played one of the first openly gay characters on television.

During a break from "Soap," Crystal filmed his first movie. He starred in "Rabbit Test" in 1978, a comedy about a man who becomes pregnant. The film was co-written and directed by stand-up legend Joan Rivers.

After "Soap" ended in 1981, Crystal landed his own comedy show, "The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour." He also attracted attention with his small role as a mime in the rock music mock-umentary "This Is Spinal Tap," directed by Rob Reiner. That same year, Crystal joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Only on the show for one season, Crystal created several memorable characters, such as swanky television host Fernando Lamas. This character's catchphrase, "You look mahvelous," became part of popular culture. Crystal also did some spot-on impressions, wowing audiences with his take on Howard Cosell and Sammy Davis, Jr. For his work on the show, he received his first Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

Not long after his stint on "Saturday Night Live," Crystal's career began to take off. He launched the popular televised comedy fundraiser, "Comedy Relief," with Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams in 1986. The show aired annually for 12 years. In perhaps the biggest role of his career, he starred opposite Meg Ryan in the romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally..." in 1989, which was a box-office hit.

Crystal scored again two years later with "City Slickers." Around this time, Crystal also established himself as the ultimate award show host. He hosted the Grammy Awards in 1988 and the Academy Awards in 1990. Since then, Crystal has hosted the Academy Awards eight more times, most recently in 2012. Over the years, he won five Emmy Awards for his work on the Academy Awards ceremony.

Later in the 1990s, Crystal went to work with director Woody Allen on the comedy "Deconstructing Harry." He scored another big hit with "Analyze This," a comedy about a crime boss (Robert De Niro) who seeks help from a therapist played by Crystal. This humorous odd couple reunited for the 2002 sequel, "Analyze That."

Working off-camera, Crystal directed the baseball-centric television movie"61*." He also voiced one of the lead characters in "Monsters, Inc." as well as a small part in "Cars." Crystal additionally branched out in another direction -- as a children's author. He wrote "I Already Know I Love You" shortly after the birth of his first grandchild.

In December 2004, Crystal brought his most personal work to the Broadway stage. He wrote and performed "700 Sundays," the one-man show that took its title from Crystal's calculations on how much time he got to spend with his father before his death. Filled with family stories and sports references, the show won a Tony Award for special theatrical event in 2005.

In 2006, Crystal reunited with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg for a special edition of "Comic Relief." The trio brought back the comedy fund-raising event to benefit those affected by Hurricane Katrina. As Crystal told People magazine, "The problems are still out there, and what's cool is we're still there. This is the 'We Still Have Our Own Hips' tour!"

The following year, Crystal became the 10th person to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the Kennedy Center. He joined a list of other distinguished comedians, including George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Steve Martin, who have also been awarded this honor.

Continuing with his film career, Crystal plays a grandfather in the 2012 comedy "Parental Guidance," with Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei. He also reprised his role in the animated feature "Monsters University."

In 2013 he released his memoir, "Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?"

Crystal currently lives in California with his wife, Janice.


Billy Crystal's 'Foolin', Full Of Fun — And Feeling : NPR
The comic and actor talks to NPR's Scott Simon about his insomnia, his friendship with baseball legend Mickey Mantle, and the love of his life. They're all topics ...
Billy Crystal Loves New York: Actor Raises $1 Million To Sandy ...
LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- Billy Crystal has helped raise $1 million to rebuild his native beach town on New York's Long Island hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Billy Crystal: A youthful 65, with eternity on his mind - CBS News
CBS Sunday Morning: Billy Crystal: A youthful 65, with eternity on his mind - A new semi-autobiography by the comic actor is a poignant look at a lifelong love ...

Related Speakers View all

More like Billy