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.
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 1975, Crystal made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He appeared to be a young comedian on the rise. Crystal took the groundbreaking role of Jodie Dallas on the situation comedy Soap. He played one of the first openly gay characters on television, which caused quite a stir at the time. During a break from Soap, Crystal filmed his first movie. He starred in Rabbit Test, a comedy about a man who becomes pregnant.
His career took off following with Saturday Night Live in 1984, with hit films When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers. Crystal won five Emmy Awards for hosting the Oscars and received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2007.