William Edward “Billy” Crystal (born March 14, 1948) is an American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, and television host. 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 critical and box office successes When Harry Met Sally… (1989), City Slickers (1991), and Analyze This (1999) and providing the voice of Mike Wazowski in the Monsters, Inc. franchise.
He has hosted the Academy Awards 9 times, beginning in 1990 and most recently in 2012; a record second only to that of Bob Hope, who hosted 14 times.
Crystal was born at Doctors Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and initially raised in The Bronx. As a toddler, he moved with his family to 549 East Park Avenue in Long Beach, New York, on Long Island. He and his older brothers Joel and Richard, nicknamed Rip, were the sons of Helen (née Gabler), a housewife, and Jack Crystal, who owned and operated the Commodore Music Store, founded by Helen’s father, Julius Gabler, Jack Crystal was also a jazz promoter, a producer, and an executive for an affiliated jazz record label, Commodore Records, founded by Helen’s brother, musician and songwriter Milt Gabler Crystal is Jewish (his family emigrated from Austria and Russia) The three young brothers would entertain by reprising comedy routines from the likes of Bob Newhart, Rich Little and Sid Caesar records their father would bring. Jazz artists such as Arvell Shaw, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, and Billie Holiday were often guests in the home. With the decline of Dixieland jazz circa 1963, Crystal’s father lost his business and died later that year at the age 54 after suffering a heart attack while bowling His mother, Helen Crystal, died in 2001.
After graduation from Long Beach High School in 1965 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 baseball at Marshall because the program was suspended during his first year. He did not return to Marshall as a sophomore, instead deciding to stay in New York to be close to his future wife. He attended Nassau Community College with Janice, and later transferred to New York University, where he was a film and television directing major. He graduated from NYU in 1970 with a BFA from its School of Fine Arts, not yet named for the Tisch family. One of his instructors was Martin Scorsese while Oliver Stone and Christopher Guest were among his classmates.
Crystal and his wife Janice (née Goldfinger) married in June 1970 have two daughters, actress Jennifer and producer Lindsay, and are grandparents. They reside in Pacific Palisades, California.