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Comedic actor Billy Crystal, best known as Harry in When Harry Met Sally (1989) and as a perennial host of the Academy Awards, was born in New York on this date in 1948. His father was a well-known concert promoter, and celebrities were frequent guests in the household (Billie Holiday was sometimes his babysitter). Crystal studied filmmaking at New York University and became a stand-up comedian before landing a lead role on Soap, a 1977 television sitcom in which he played a gay man (the first gay man featured on prime-time television). His career as a comic then took off, with frequent appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show, and with his own television show in 1982. Mr. Saturday Night (1992), a film that paid tribute to Jewish comedy, revealed his depth as a film director as well as actor. A lifelong baseball fanatic (Crystal played college ball ), he directed 61, a movie about the Roger Maris-Mickey Mantle home-run race of 1961 that garnered 12 Emmy Award nominations. Billy Crystal has been married since 1970 to his college sweetheart, Janice Goldfinger. To see him doing a wonderful stand-up routine about Muhammad Ali, look below.
“I’m comfortable being old... being black... being Jewish.” —Billy Crystal