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L E’s Stories – “You Look Marvelous” – In My Tribute To The Comedic Mastery Of Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal is an American actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, director and television host. He gained prominence in the 1970’s and 1980’s for television roles as Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom          Soap…..and as a cast member and frequent host of Saturday Night Live.  He then became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980’s and 1990’s….while appearing in the box office successes including  The Princess Bride and Throw Momma from the Train  in 1987…..When Harry Met Sally in 1989…..City Slickers in 1991…..Mr. Saturday Night in 1992….Analyze This in 1999….and Parental Guidance in 2012…. while providing the voice of Mike Wazowski in the Monsters, Inc. films starting in 2001….plus, he will reprise his role in the upcoming Disney+  series Monsters at Work in 2021.  For his work, he received numerous accolades, including six Primetime Emmy Awards….  a Tony Award…..a Mark Twain Prize ….. and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991. He has hosted the Academy Awards nine times,  beginning in 1990 and most recently in 2012.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Comedy – 1982 – Rick Newman’s Catch A Rising Star Special – Billy Crystal Live On Stage

                                                                                                                                                                          Crystal returned to New York City….where for four years he was part of a comedy trio with two friends…. who played colleges and coffee houses….while Crystal worked as a substitute teacher on Long Island.  He later became a solo act and performed regularly at The Improv and Catch a Rising Star…..then in 1976, Crystal appeared on an episode of All in the Family…..plus he was on the dais for The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Muhammad Ali on February 19, 1976….where he did impressions of both Ali and sportscaster Howard Cosell. He was scheduled to appear on the first episode of NBC Saturday Night on October 11, 1975….as the show was later renamed Saturday Night Live on March 26, 1977….but his sketch was cut…..however, he did perform on episode 17 of that first season….whiole doing a monologue of an old jazz man capped by the line “Can you dig it? I knew that you could.”  Crystal was a guest on the first and the last episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno….which concluded February 6, 2014….after 22 seasons on the air.  Crystal also made game show appearances such as The Hollywood Squares, All Star Secrets and The $20,000 Pyramid. To this day, he holds the Pyramid franchise’s record for getting his contestant partner to the top of the pyramid in winner’s circle in the fastest time: 26 seconds.                               

Comedy – 1985 – Special – Billy Crystal “Fifteen Rounds” – A Tribute To Muhammad Ali

                                                                                                                                                                        Crystal’s earliest prominent role was as Jodie Dallas on Soap….who was one of the first unambiguously gay characters in the cast of an American television series. He continued in the role during the series’s entire 1977–1981 run…..then in 1982, Billy Crystal hosted his own variety show, The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour on NBC….but when Crystal arrived to shoot the fifth episode, he learned the show had been canceled after only the first two aired.  After hosting Saturday Night Live twice, on March 17, 1984 and the show’s ninth season finale on May 5….that is when he joined the regular cast for the 1984-85 season. His most famous recurring sketch was his parody of Fernando Lamas, a smarmy talk-show host whose catchphrase, “You look… mahvelous!”, became a media sensation. Also in the 1980’s, Crystal starred in an episode of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre as the smartest of the three little pigs.  In 1996, Crystal was the guest star of the third episode of Muppets Tonight and hosted three Grammy Awards Telecasts: the 29th Grammys; the 30th Grammys; and the 31st Grammys.                                                    

Comedy & Music – 1985 – Music Video – Billy Crystal Performs “You Look Marvelous”

                                                                                                                                                                                    In 2015, Crystal co-starred alongside Josh Gad on the FX comedy series The Comedians, which ran for just one season before being canceled.  Crystal’s first film role was in Joan Rivers’ 1978 film Rabbit Test, the story of the “world’s first pregnant man.”  Crystal appeared briefly in the Rob Reiner “rockumentary”  This Is Spinal Tap in 1984 as Morty The Mime….who was a waiter dressed as a mime at one of Spinal Tap’s parties. He shared the scene with a then-unknown, non-speaking Dana Carvey….while stating famously that “Mime is money.”  He later starred in the action comedy Running Scared in 1986….and was directed by Reiner again in The Princess Bride in 1987….then in a comedic supporting role as “Miracle Max”….as Reiner got Crystal to accept the part by saying, “How would you like to play Mel Brooks?” Reiner also allowed Crystal to ad-lib, and his parting shot, “Have fun storming the castle!” is a frequently-quoted line.  Reiner directed Crystal for a third time in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally in 1989 ….in which Crystal starred alongside Meg Ryan….for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. The film has since become an iconic classic for the genre…..and is Crystal’s most celebrated film. Crystal then starred in the award-winning buddy comedy City Slickers in 1991,,,,,which proved very successful both commercially and critically….for which Crystal was nominated for his second Golden Globe. The film was followed by a sequel which was less successful…..then in 1992, he narrated Dr. Seuss Video Classics: Horton Hatches the Egg.

 

Comedy – 1996 – The Muppets Show – With Special Guest Billy Crystal in “City Schtickers”

                                                                                                                                                                                    Following the significant success of these films, Crystal wrote, directed, and starred in Mr. Saturday Night in 1992…..and Forget Paris in 1995. In the former, Crystal played a serious role in aging makeup, as an egotistical comedian who reflects back on his career. Crystal starred in Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed comedy ensemble film Deconstructing Harry in 1997…..and had another success alongside  Robert De Niro in Harold Ramis’ mobster comedy Analyze This in 1999…..with more recent performances including roles in America’s Sweethearts in 2001….then the sequel Analyze That in 2002….. and Parental Guidance in 2012.                                                                                                                                                          

Comedy – 2008 – Dinner With Don Special – Billy Crystal Talks Rat Pack With Don Rickles

                                                                                                                                                                                  He directed the made-for-television movie “61* in 2001…..which was based on Roger Maris’s and Mickey Mantle’s race to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961. This earned Crystal an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.  Crystal was originally asked to voice Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story in 1995…..but turned it down, a decision he later regretted due to the popularity of the series…..but Crystal later went on to provide the voice of Mike Wazowski in the blockbuster Pixar film  Monsters, Inc. in 2001…..and reprized his voice role in the prequel, Monsters University….which was released in June 2013.  Crystal also provided the voice of Calcifer in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle in 2004.                                             

Comedy – 1977 – Tom Snyder Show Special Spoof – With Harry Shearer As Snyder Interviewing Billy Crystal As Muhammad Ali

                                                                                                                                                                                   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. He wore uniform number 60 in honor of his upcoming 60th birthday. On March 13, in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Crystal led off as the designated hitter. He managed to make contact, 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.

 

Baseball – 2008 – Special Highlights – Billy Crystal Bats Against Pirates Pat Mahome In His Minor League Debut

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. Crystal would be good friends with Mickey Mantle until Mantle’s death in 1995. He and Bob Costas together wrote the eulogy Costas read at Mantle’s funeral, and George Steinbrenner then 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”.

 

Comedy – 1978 – Excerpt From Ken Burn’s Documentary “Baseball” – Featuring Billy Crystal Talking About His 1st Visit To Yankee Stadium

                                                                                                                                                                          Crystal also was well known for his impressions of Yankee Hall of Famer turned broadcaster Phil Rizzuto. Rizzuto, known for his quirks calling games, 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.  Although a lifelong Yankee fan, he is a part-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, even earning a World Series ring in 2001 when the Diamondbacks beat his beloved Yankees.                                                                                                                                                                      

Comedy – 1993 – Special – Billy Crystal Reads Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Poems

                                                                                                                                                                            In City Slickers, Crystal wears a New York Mets baseball cap. In the 1986 film Running Scared, his character is an avid Chicago Cubs fan, wearing a Cubs’ jersey in several scenes. In the 2012 film Parental Guidance, his character is the announcer for the Fresno Grizzlies, a Minor League Baseball team, and aspires to announce for their Major League affiliate, the San Francisco Giants.  Crystal appeared in Ken Burns’s 1994 documentary Baseball, telling personal stories about his life-long love of baseball, including meeting Casey Stengel as a child and Ted Williams as an adult.                                                                           

Comedy – 1979 – Dick Clark’s Live Wednesday Special – Featuring Billy Crystal Stand-Up Routine

                                                                                                                                                                                    Crystal won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for 700 Sundays, a two-act, one-man play, which he conceived and wrote about his parents and his childhood growing up on Long Island.  He toured throughout the US with the show in 2006 and then Australia in 2007.  Following the initial success of the play, Crystal wrote the book 700 Sundays for Warner Books, which was published on October 31, 2005. In conjunction with the book and the play that also paid tribute to his uncle, Milt Gabler, Crystal produced two CD compilations: Billy Crystal Presents: The Milt Gabler Story, which featured his uncle’s most influential recordings from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets; and Billy Remembers Billie featuring Crystal’s favorite Holiday recordings.                                     

Comedy – 1990 – Comic Relief IV Special – Featuring Billy Crystal Live On Stage

                                                                                                                                                                                    In the fall of 2013, he brought the show back to Broadway for a two-month run at the Imperial Theatre. HBO filmed the January 3–4, 2014 performances for a special…..which debuted on their network on April 19, 2014.  In 2014, Crystal paid tribute to his close friend of over thirty years Robin Williams at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. In his tribute he talked about their friendship, saying, “As genius as he was on stage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine. Supportive. Protective. Loving. It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives. For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy…[His] beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it’ll warm your heart. It’ll make your eyes glisten. And you’ll think to yourselves: Robin Williams. What a concept.” Crystal stated that paying tribute to Williams so publicly and so soon after Williams had died was one of “the hardest things I’ve had to do” and that “I was really worried that I wasn’t going to get through it.” Crystal soon after appeared on The View where he and Whoopi Goldberg shared stories about Williams, reminiscing about their friendship, and their collaborations together on Comic Relief.                                                                                                                                             

Comedy – 1978 To 1990 – Special – Simply The Best Of Robin Williams & Billy Crystal Together

                                                                                                                                                                                      In 2016, Crystal gave one of the eulogies for Muhammad Ali at his funeral. In his remembrance of Ali, Crystal talked about his admiration for Ali as a boxer, and humanitarian. He also shared stories of their unlikely friendship after Crystal did a series of impersonations of him. Crystal stated of Ali’s legacy, “Only once in a thousand years or so, do we get to hear a Mozart, or see a Picasso, or read a Shakespeare. Ali was one of them. And yet, at his heart, he was still a kid from Louisville who ran with the gods and walked with the crippled and smiled at the foolishness of it all.”  For all of the above and so much more….we at ImaSportsphile are sincerely grateful for the many works of Billy Crystal in our video museum…..for he was a comedian of the highest order and entertainer extraordinaire…..as he is definitely a “brother of another mother” to our Bone Daddy…..cuz if not for any other reason than both considered Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali their two favorite sports heroes of all time.                                                                                

Comedy – 2016 – Special – Billy Crystal’s Eulogy For Muhammad Ali At His Funeral In Louisville Kentucky

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