Best Known For
Billy Crystal came to fame on the sitcom Soap. After a year on Saturday Night Live, he began a successful film career.
Whoopi Goldberg has always been politically active and from 1986-1998 she and fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal hosted the Comic Relief benefits for the homeless.
Actor and comedian Robin Williams caught his first big break when he auditioned for the role of Mork on Happy Days. That one appearance would eventually land the actor with his own spin off show, "Mork & Mindy."
In 1955 actor and comedian Steve Martin moved to the suburbs outside Los Angeles where he was just moments away from Disneyland where he would work for many years growing up.
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Born in New York in 1948, comedian Billy Crystal made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1975. As an actor, his first TV role was on the sitcom Soap. His career took off following a year on Saturday Night Live (1984), with hit films When Harry Met Sally (1989) and City Slickers (1991). Crystal won five Emmy Awards for hosting the Oscars, and received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2007.
"I love being 'captain of show business' for one night a year, but it is hard to keep doing it better."
[On his numerous appearances as host of the Academy Awards.]
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.
At the age of 8, he saw his first Yankees game with his father. The two shared a passion for the sport, which his father had played during college, and spent many Sundays watching games together. When Crystal was 15, he and his family suffered a terrible loss. His father died of a heart attack while out one night bowling.
After his father's death, Crystal played baseball in high school and in college at Marshall University in West Virginia. The university ended their baseball program after his first year, so he decided to return home. There he attended Nassau Community College for a time before enrolling at New York University where he earned a degree in film and television direction. In 1970, he married Janice Goldfinger.
After graduation, 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. While his wife worked at a local college, Crystal took care of the couple's first child—a daughter named Jennifer, born in 1973. He sometimes brought Jennifer with him to his performances. Looking back, Crystal told Time magazine that "I loved those years of being Mr. Mom. One of the saddest days in my life was when Jennifer said, 'Dad, I can wash my own hair.'" The couple would welcome their second daughter, Lindsey, in 1977.
In 1975, Crystal made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He appeared to be a young comedian on the rise. That same year, Crystal suffered a professional setback when he lost an opportunity to perform on the first episode of the new late-night comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live.
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Learn more about the cast of Saturday Night Live, including old-timers such as John Belushi, Billy Crystal, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy and David Spade, as well as newer stars of the series, including Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg and Seth Meyers.
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