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The American actor and comedian Billy Crystal was born in 1948 in New York. Long before Crystal became one of the era’s most beloved comedians, appearing in such blockbuster hits as When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers, he grew up in Long Beach, on Long Island. Billy’s father was a music producer and promoter who unfortunately passed away when Billy was a teenager. But Billy followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in the entertainment industry, although it would be as a comedian instead of as a musician.
After graduating from high school, Billy Crystal attended Nassau Community College and then New York University, majoring in film and television. Some of his classmates included Oliver Stone, and his instructors at the university included such notable directors as Martin Scorsese. After NYU, Crystal remained in the New York area, performing at such venues as the Improv and eventually garnered the attention of Saturday Night Live, joining one of the show’s earliest casts.
On SNL, Billy Crystal became known for his impersonations of such celebrities as Howard Cosell, Prince, Fernando Lamas, and Sammy Davis, Jr. After just one season with the show, Billy went on to a recurring role on the series Soap, in the role of one of the era’s first homosexual characters. He remained with Soap for four years, until moving on to his own variety show in 1982. The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour only lasted for a few episodes, however, and so he returned to Saturday Night Live in 1984, remaining with the show for multiple seasons and making the phrase “You Look Mahvelous!” famous.
Around this time, Billy Crystal also made the foray into film, starting with a role in Rabbit Test alongside Joan Rivers. A brief appearance in This Is Spinal Tap (1984) was followed by Running Scared (1986) and The Princess Bride (1987.) But it was his appearance in When Harry Met Sally in 1989 that made Billy Crystal a household name and earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Since that time, Billy Crystal has appeared in the films: City Slickers (1991), Forget Paris (1995), Deconstructing Harry (1997), My Giant (1998), Analyze This (1999), America’s Sweethearts (2001), Parental Guidance (2012), and the animated films Cars, Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. Crystal also hosted the Grammy Awards three times and the Academy Awards a staggering nine times, to critical acclaim and an Emmy for his performance.
Billy Crystal continues to perform and act, and has even toured with a one-man, one-act performance throughout the globe. Crystal is also the author of multiple best-selling books, including Absolutely Mahvelous (1986), 700 Sundays (2005), and Still Foolin’ Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? (2013.)
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