Billy Crystal is a former stand-up comic and cast member of television's "Saturday Night Live" who achieved greater glory as an actor and emcee, starring in such movies as "When Harry Met Sally..." and hosting the Academy Awards ceremony eight times, a total surpassed only by Bob Hope.
Combining quips and one-liners with a genial, almost diffident style, Crystal became popular on TV talk shows and in a variety of comic roles. He has won three Emmy Awards and been nominated 12 times. One of his early successes was as Meathead's best friend on the landmark 1970s sitcom "All in the Family," and he made TV history in 1977 when he was cast as the first gay character on a series, in "Soap."
Crystal, born in 1948, has been strongly influenced by his New York City roots, and even wrote a one-man play, "700 Sundays," about time spent with his father while growing up on Long Island. It earned him a Tony Award in 2005. Crystal is also a Yankees fan and was good enough as a player to be offered a college baseball scholarship. He directed the HBO movie "61*," about the 1961 season when Yankees teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased the single-year home-run record.
While sometimes irreverent as an awards-show host, Crystal's warm-hearted likability made him a natural for romantic comedies like "When Harry Met Sally...," a 1989 classic in which he played opposite Meg Ryan. As a sheltered psychiatrist, he became a foil for Robert De Niro's troubled mob boss character in 1999's "Analyze This" and its sequel, "Analyze That." He now lives in Pacific Palisades.