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Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Manhattan, New York, and was raised on Long Island. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish emigrants from Russia, Austria, and Lithuania. With his father in the music business, Billy was no stranger to some of the top performers of the time. Legends such as Billie Holiday, Pee Wee Russell, and Eddie Condon regularly stopped by the Crystal household. At age 15, Billy faced a personal tragedy when his father died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 54. This gave Billy a real appreciation of what his dad was able to accomplish while alive and what his mother did to keep the family together. Despite this tragedy, Billy was very upbeat and likable as a kid. He had a unique talent for making people laugh. With television becoming a new medium, Billy got his influence from shows like The Honeymooners (1955), and "The Ed Sullivan Show" and performers like Alan King, Ernie Kovacs and Jonathan Winters. He started doing stand-up comedy at the age of 16. However, his real dream was to be a professional baseball player. His idol growing up was Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle. He spent long hours in the summers playing softball in the middle of Park Avenue with his brothers and his father, a former pitcher at St. John's University . At Long Beach High, Billy played second base and was varsity captain in his senior year. This earned him a baseball scholarship from Marshall University in West Virginia which he accepted. However, he would never end up playing a game as the baseball program was suspended during his freshman year. This would lead him to leave the university and move back to New York. He then enrolled at nearby Nassau Community College, majoring in theater. It was there that he met and fell in love with a dancer named Janice Goldfinger. They would get married in 1970 and have two daughters. Shortly after, Billy got accepted in New York University, where he majored in Film and TV Direction. While at NYU, he studied under legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. He also worked as house manager and usher on a production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."
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