Since he was nine years old, he wanted to be a professional baseball player, and played all throughout high school. He attended Marshall University in West Virginia on a baseball scholarship, but the program was abolished the following year. He then transferred to Nassau Community College in Long Island, and then to New York University to study film and television directing, completing his B.F.A. in 1970.
After marrying his college sweatheart Janice, he worked as a substitute teacher in Long Beach, also performing a comedy act at various clubs in the city. He toured several years with an improv group called 3's Company, and then moved to Los Angeles. Here, during his stand-up routine, he was spotted by television producer Norman Lear, and was given several appearances on All in the Family along with a guest spot on Howard Cosell's variety show. In 1977, he was given the role of Jodie Dallas, T.V.'s first openly gay character, in the soap-opera satire Soap. After five seasons, comedienne Joan Rivers used him in her 1978 film Rabbit Test, where Crystal played a man who discovers he is pregnant.
With this odd start, he returned to New York and appeared in several cable specials, TV movies, guest spots, hosted a comedy hour, and also toured nightclubs and college campuses, specializing in impersonations. In 1984, he was invited to join the cast of Saturday Night Live. Although he was only on for a season, he was considered by many the most popular cast member, and he earned an Emmy nomination in the Best Individual Performance category.
As we all know, his shaky career start did not stick for long, because he went on to star in some of the best movies ever made, including This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally (all three directed by Rob Reiner), and many, many others.
In 1991, he moved back to Los Angeles and wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Mr. Saturday Night.
Although some of his recent movies have not made deep impressions in the box office, Crystal is still regarded as an extremely talented and funny individual, with his work leaving a great impression on our minds forever. He has won several performing and writing Emmy Awards for his emceeing of the Oscars, which he has hosted six times. Since 1986, he has co-hosted the HBO Comic Relief benefit specials with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg.