A successful stand-up comic and talkshow host since his twenties, Billy Crystal was born in 1947 in Long Beach, New York, son of a New York city Jazz promoter who founded the Commodore jazz record label.
Billy was steeped in show biz at an early age. As early as age 5 he jumped on stage and tap danced with some of the nation's top talents such as Billy Holliday.
At first, Billy didn't want to be a performer -- he wanted to be a baseball player. He trained hard and went to Marshall University in West Virginia on a baseball scholarship. There, he kept his wit razor-sharp by hosting a campus call-in radio show. When the baseball program was abolished the following year, Crystal gave up his hopes of becoming a shortstop and moved on to Nassau Community College followed by New York University where he studied film and television directing.
After graduating in 1970 and getting married, Billy supported himself substitute teaching, and performing in comedy clubs. Later he and his family moved to Los Angeles where he continued his stand-up comedy routine.
Television producer Norman Lear spotted him, and a few T.V. assignments followed, such as appearances in All in the Family. Following some more high profile television performances including becoming a regular on the popular series Soap, his movie debut was in a film called Rabbit Test.
This rather odd film didn't immediately launch his career. Moving back to New York Billy advanced his small-screen career. In 1984 he was invited to join the cast of Saturday Night Live where he emerged as the most popular cast member and earned an Emmy.
Crystal went on to advance his movie career with performances in This is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride before moving on to Running Scared and Throw Momma from the Train. He achieved stardom with When Harry Met Sally and the comedy City Slickers.
He made a return move to Los Angeles where he wrote, directed, produced and starred in Mr. Saturday Night that unfortunately didn't do too well at the box office. Also disappointing were City Slickers II and Forget Paris. Father's Day and Les Compéres followed.