Born William Edward Crystal on March 14, 1948 in New York City, New York, Billy Crystal is an actor, writer, producer, and director perhaps most famous for his roles in When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers.
The son of a housewife and a jazz record company executive, Crystal grew up not only to a Jewish family but one with deep roots in the entertainment industry. His father owned and operated Commodore Record Store, his uncle, a musician and song writer, his brother a television producer. He graduated from Long Beach High School and eventually went to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, on a baseball scholarship. He dropped out of his sophomore year, went back to New York with his future wife, Janice Godfinger, whom he met when he was 18. Then he attended New York University and Nassau Community College.
While studying film and television direction under Martin Scorsese at NYU, Billy Crystal performed regularly at The Improv and Catch a Rising Star. He rose to prominence after playing Jodie Dallas on Soap, one of the first gay characters portrayed on American television. He did a stand-up on the first season of Saturday Night Life, and eventually hosted the show and joined the cast.
Billy Crystal landed his first film role in the 1978 picture Rabbit Test. Later on, he starred in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally where he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 1991, he appeared in the box-office hit City Slickers. He won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for 700 Sundays. He then toured the U.S. with the show in 2006 and a year later in Australia. He also wrote a book based on this highly successful play. He has hosted the Academy Awards eight times, a record only broken by Bob Hope.