William Edward "Billy" Crystal (born March 14, 1948) is an American actor, writer, producer, comedian and film director. He gained prominence in the 1970s for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the critical and box office successes When Harry Met Sally... and City Slickers. He has hosted the Academy Awards eight times.
Crystal was born in the Doctor's Hospital in Manhattan and grew up in Long Beach, New York, the son of Helen (née Gabler), a housewife, and Jack Crystal, a record company executive and producer of jazz records, who owned and operated the Commodore Record store. His uncle was musician and songwriter Milt Gabler, and his brother, Richard "Rip" Crystal, is a television producer. Crystal grew up in a Jewish family that he has described as "large" and "loving". Billie Holiday was one of Crystal's babysitters during his childhood.
After graduation from Long Beach High School, Crystal attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, on a baseball scholarship, having learned the game from his father, who pitched for St. John's University. Crystal never played a game at Marshall because the program was suspended during his freshman year. He did not return as a sophomore, staying back in New York with his future wife. He then went on to Nassau Community College, and later attended New York University, where he graduated with a B.F.A. from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1970. He was also the Editor-in-Chief of the BG News from 1969–70.