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Mark Twain Caricature The Tenth Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize celebrating Billy Crystal
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Recipient Billy Crystal
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Recipient Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal, photo by Scott Suchman
Photo: Scott Suchman

Billy Crystal has created one of the most versatile and prolific careers in the entertainment industry, finding success in front of the camera, as a performer in film and television, and behind the scenes as a writer, director and producer. After touring with such stars as Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka, and Sha Na Na, he became a regular on the popular series Soap playing the first openly gay character on a network television series. During the 1984–85 television seasons, Billy met with phenomenal national success on Saturday Night Live. He created, wrote and produced the critically acclaimed HBO series Sessions and became the first comedian to perform in the then-Soviet Union with his special Midnight Train to Moscow, one of four one-man specials he has done for HBO. He has hosted the Grammy Awards three times and, of course, the Oscars eight times.

He starred in Running Scared, Throw Momma from the Train, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally..., City Slickers I and II, Mr. Saturday Night, Forget Paris, Hamlet, Deconstructing Harry, Father’s Day, My Giant, Analyze This and That, and America’s Sweethearts. Crystal’s film 61* for HBO films showcased Crystal as both director and executive producer. It won 12 Emmy nominations including nods for Best Director and Best Made for Television Movie and also earned him a prestigious Director’s Guild nomination.

Billy Crystal, photo by Scott Suchman
Photo: Scott Suchman

Crystal made his Broadway debut in 2004 with 700 Sundays, an autobiographical one-man play. The play opened to stellar reviews and broke box office records, becoming the highest grossing non-musical in the history of Broadway and garnered Crystal the Tony, Outer Critics Circle Award, and the prestigious Drama Desk Award. In fall of 2005 Crystal took 700 Sundays on tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto, breaking box office records. In October 2005 he adapted 700 Sundays into a book that joined Billy’s two children’s books, I Already Know I Love You and Grandpa’s Little One on the New York Times bestseller list. Recently, he took the show to Australia performing in Sydney and Melbourne to standing ovations and sold out crowds each night.

A dedicated human rights advocate, he has co-hosted with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg all eight Comic Relief telethons on HBO which have brought the plight of the nation’s homeless to the public and raised over $40 million for housing and medical care for these needy people. Billy, Robin, and Whoopi have reunited in November for a special Comic Relief, to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Billy has won six Emmy Awards, six American Comedy Awards, and seven Cable Ace Awards.

He has been married for 36 years to Janice, and has two daughters, Jennifer and Lindsay, and granddaughters Ella and Dylan.

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