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Comedy – 1977 – Special – Billy Crystal Does Louie Armstrong


Every now and then a comedian comes along who just nails an impression of someone who is extremely will known from the world of sports….and this video provides evidence of just one of those times….as Billy Crystal is “spot on” with his impression of jazz great Louie Armstrong….which is pretty amazing when you consider a diminutive Jewish comedian can do one of the world’s all time great black jazz trumpet players almost as well as he did himself.   

As it turns out, Crystal grew up in a family business called The Commodore Jazz Label….which recorded many of the old great jazz musicians….like Armstrong….when they performed at nightclubs and in concert on stages like The Apollo Theater….as this little white boy was known as Face to all the great old jazz masters….so, in this video, Face relates a story of running into Louie Armstrong by chance….and provides the viewer with a wonderful remembrance of that meeting….for this is priceless Crystal.  

Billy Crystal is an American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian and television host. He gained prominence in the 1970’s for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap….and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980’s and 1990’s….after 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 nine times beginning in 1990 and most recently in 2012.

On March 12, 2008, Crystal signed a one-day minor league contract to play with the New York Yankees and was invited to the team’s major league spring training….when he wore uniform # 60 in honor of his upcoming 60th birthday…..and on March 13, in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Crystal led off as the designated hitter….while managing to make contactby fouling a fastball up the first base line….but was eventually struck out by Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm on six pitches….and was later replaced in the batting order by Johnny Damon.  He was released on March 14, his 60th birthday.  

Crystal’s boyhood idol was Yankee Hall of Fame legend Mickey Mantle….who had signed a program for him when Crystal attended a game where Mantle had hit a home run. Years later on The Dinah Shore Show, in one of his first television appearances, Crystal met Mantle in person….and had Mantle re-sign the same program….as Crystal would be good friends with Mickey Mantle until Mantle’s death in 1995…. when he and NBC sportscaster Bob Costas together wrote the eulogy that Costas read at Mantle’s funeral….after which Yankees owner George Steinbrenner invited Crystal to emcee the unveiling of Mantle’s monument at Yankee Stadium.  In his 2013 memoir Still Foolin’ ‘Em, Crystal writes that after the ceremony, near the Yankee clubhouse, he was punched in the stomach by Joe DiMaggio….who was angry at Crystal for not having introduced him to the crowd as the “greatest living player.”  Crystal also was well known for his impressions of Yankee Hall of Famer turned broadcaster Phil Rizzuto….who was known for his quirks calling games….and did not travel to Anaheim, California in 1996 to call the game for WPIX.  Instead, Crystal joined the broadcasters in the booth and pretended to be Rizzuto for a few minutes during the August 31 game….as just another example of Crystal’s tremendous comedic and impressionistic talents.

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