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William Edward “Billy” Crystal[1] (born March 14, 1948) is an American Golden Globe Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor, writer, producer, comedian, and film director. He gained prominence in the 1970s for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the box office successes When Harry Met Sally... and City Slickers.

Biography

Crystal was born in the Doctor's Hospital in Manhattan and grew up in Long Beach, New York, the son of Helen (née Gabler), a housewife, and Jack Crystal, a record company executive and producer of jazz records, who owned and operated the Commodore Record store.[2][3] His uncle was musician and songwriter Milt Gabler, and his brother, Richard Crystal, is a television producer. Crystal grew up in a Jewish family that he has described as "large" and "loving".[4] After graduation from Long Beach High School, Crystal attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, on a baseball scholarship, having learned the game from his father, who pitched for St. John's University. Crystal never played a game at Marshall because the program was suspended during his freshman year and he didn't return as a sophomore, staying back in New York with his future wife. Later, he attended New York University and Nassau Community College.[5]

Crystal has been married to Janice Goldfinger, whom he met when he was 18 and she 17, since 1970. They have two daughters, actresses Jennifer and Lindsay, and are now grandparents. They reside in Pacific Palisades, California.


Career

Television
Crystal returned to New York and performed regularly at The Improv and Catch a Rising Star. He studied film and television direction under Martin Scorsese at New York University. Crystal's earliest prominent role was as Jodie Dallas on Soap, one of the first gay characters portrayed on American television. In 1976, Crystal appeared on an episode of All in the Family. He was scheduled to appear on the first episode of Saturday Night Live (October 11, 1975), but his sketch was cut.[6] He did do a stand-up bit later on that first season as "Bill Crystal", on the April 17, 1976, episode. After hosting a show years later, in 1984, he joined the cast.[6] His most famous recurring sketch was his parody of Fernando Lamas – Fernando, a smarmy talk show host whose catch phrase, "You look... mahvelous!," became a media sensation.[6]

Crystal's first film role was in Joan Rivers's 1978 film Rabbit Test. Crystal also made game show appearances such as The Hollywood Squares and The $20,000 Pyramid. He holds the record for getting his contestant partner to the top of the pyramid in the bonus round in the fastest time, 26 seconds.

Crystal hosted the Academy Awards broadcast in 1990–1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2004; and he reportedly turned down the opportunity to host the 2006 ceremony to concentrate on his one-man show, 700 Sundays. His eight times as the emcee is second only to legendary Oscar host Bob Hope in most ceremonies hosted.


Film
Crystal appeared briefly in Rob Reiner's 1984 "rockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap as Morty The Mime, a waiter dressed as a mime at one of Spinal Tap's parties. He shared the scene with a then-unknown, non-speaking Dana Carvey. Crystal's memorable line in the film was "Mime is money." Eventually, Reiner directed Crystal again in The Princess Bride, and then in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally..., for which Crystal was nominated for a Golden Globe. Crystal also appeared in the box-office hit City Slickers (1991).

Crystal wrote, directed, and starred in Mr. Saturday Night (1992) and Forget Paris (1995). In the former, Crystal played a serious role in aging makeup, as an egotistical comedian who reflects back on his career. He directed the made-for-television movie 61* (2001) based on Roger Maris's and Mickey Mantle's race to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record in 1961. This earned Crystal an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

Crystal has continued working in film, including the popular Analyze This (1999) and Analyze That (2002) with Robert De Niro.[6] Crystal lent his voice to the character Mike Wazowski in Pixar's animated feature film Monsters, Inc.,[6] and in the English version of Howl's Moving Castle as the voice of Calcifer. Pixar originally approached him to provide the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. He turned down that offer, but regretted it after the film became one of the most popular releases of the year.[6]


Broadway
Crystal won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for 700 Sundays, a two-act, one-man play, which he conceived and wrote about his parents and his childhood growing up on Long Island.[6] He toured the U.S. with the show in 2006 and Australia in 2007.

Following the initial success of the play, Crystal wrote the book 700 Sundays for Warner Books, which was published on October 31, 2005. In conjunction with the book and the play that also paid tribute to his uncle, Milt Gabler, Crystal produced two CD compilations: Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story, which featured his uncle's most influential recordings from Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" to "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets; and Billy Remembers Billie featuring Crystal's favorite Holiday recordings.


Philanthropy
In 1986, Crystal started hosting Comic Relief on HBO with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg.[6] Founded by Bob Zmuda, Comic Relief raises money for homeless people in the United States.

On September 6, 2005, on The Tonight Show, Crystal and Jay Leno were the first celebrities to sign a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be auctioned off for Gulf Coast relief.[7]

Crystal has also participated in the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Portraying himself in a video, Crystal introduces museum guests to the genealogy wing of the museum.


New York Yankees
On March 12, 2008, Crystal signed a minor league contract, for a single day, to play with the New York Yankees, and was invited to the team's major league spring training. Billy wore uniform number 60, in honor of his upcoming 60th birthday.[8] On March 13, in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Crystal led off as the designated hitter. He managed to make contact, fouling a fastball up the first base line, but was eventually struck out by Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm on 6 pitches and was later replaced in the batting order by Johnny Damon.[9] He was released on March 14, his 60th birthday.[10]


Awards
In addition to his Golden Globe Award-nominations, Emmy Awards, and Tony Award, Crystal is the 2007 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.[11]


Filmography
Soap - (1977-1981) as "Jodie Dallas"
Rabbit Test - (1978) as "Lionel Carpenter"
Animalympics - (1980) (voiceover) as "Lodge Turkell"
This Is Spinal Tap - (1984) as "Morty the Mime"
Running Scared - (1986) as "Danny Costanzo"
The Princess Bride - (1987) as "Miracle Max"
Throw Momma from the Train - (1987) as "Larry Donner"
Memories of Me - (1988) as Abbie
When Harry Met Sally... - (1989) as "Harry Burns"
City Slickers (1991) as "Mitch Robbins"
Horton Hatches the Egg (1992) narrator (voice)
Mr. Saturday Night (1992) as "Buddy Young, Jr."
City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994) as "Mitch Robbins"
Forget Paris (1995) as "Mickey Gordon" (also directed by Billy Crystal)
Hamlet (1996) as "First Gravedigger"
Deconstructing Harry (1997) as "Larry/The Devil"
Fathers' Day (1997) as "Jack Lawrence"
My Giant (1998) as "Sam 'Sammy' Kamin"
Analyze This (1999) as "Ben Sobel, M.D."
America's Sweethearts (2001) as "Lee Phillips"
Monsters, Inc. (2001) as "Michael (Mike) Wazowski" (voice)
Analyze That (2002) as "Ben Sobel, M.D."
Howl's Moving Castle (film) (2005) as "Calcifer" (voice)
Cars (2006) as "Mike Car" (cameo voice)
Washington "D.C." (pre-production) as "Commissioner Jeffreys"

Saturday Night Live
Characters
Al Minkman, a shady businessman
Fernando, host of Fernando's Hideaway, a celebrity interview show; based on actor Fernando Lamas
Buddy Young, Jr. (an insult comic who appears on Weekend Update)
Lew Goldman
Ricky, a bowler
Tony Minetti, a butcher
Willie, a man who, along with his friend, Frankie (played by Christopher Guest), discuss their masochistic tendencies
Impersonations
Fernando Lamas
Howard Cosell
Muhammad Ali
Joe Franklin
Hervé Villechaize
Joe Garagiola
Prince
Sammy Davis, Jr.

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