March 14, 1948 – Actor, Writer, Producer, Comedian, Director, and Disney Legend Billy Crystal is Born
“When we thought of Billy Crystal, we thought, this was going to be great. Of course, he just added his own unique spin to it.” – Pete Docter, Director of Monsters, Inc.
On March 14, 1948, William Edward Crystal was born in New York City. His father was a music promoter, and his uncle was Milton Gabler, a legendary music producer. Displaying a love of performing at an early age, Crystal and his older brothers would perform their own variety show for family members and at local events. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1970, Crystal began his career in improv comedy, leading to a sketch on the first season of Saturday Night Live!. His breakout role was as Jodie Dallas on the sitcom Soap, which he played from 1977 through 1981. He rejoined Saturday Night Live! as a cast member during the 1984 – 1985 season, and then had an appearance in the series All in the Family, where he would meet actor and director Rob Reiner. Reiner hired Crystal for small parts in two films, This is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, which led to his being cast as the lead in When Harry Met Sally…. This film gave Crystal his first Golden Globe nomination for best actor.
Crystal was asked to be the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Pixar’s first full-length computer animated feature Toy Story, but he passed on the role, calling it one of the biggest regrets of his career. When he was offered the role of Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc., he jumped at the chance. He has since reprised the role in a short film, a cameo in Cars, and the prequel film Monsters University. Crystal also voiced the character Calcifer in the film Howl’s Moving Castle. Crystal continues to be active in entertainment, hosting the Academy Awards nine times, directing a made-for-television movie, and writing and starring in a one-man play called 700 Sundays. Crystal was named a Disney Legend in 2013.