The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has selected the 46th Honorees for lifetime artistic achievements, honoring actor and comedian Billy Crystal '70 (BFA, Kanbar Institute, Film & TV), '16 Hon., Dean’s Council.
The Kennedy Center Honors will take place on Sunday, December 3, 2023. In honor of the major milestone, The Washington Post released this profile of Crystal's life and career.
“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes artists who have made profound contributions to the cultural life of our nation. A true comedic icon and multi-talented artist since the 1980s who has kept millions laughing around the world, Billy Crystal is responsible for some of the most memorable stand-up moments and hilarious Hollywood scenes in the last half-century."
David M. Rubenstein, Kennedy Center Chairman
Tony® and Emmy Award®–winning comedian, actor, producer, writer, and director Billy Crystal is known around the world as the star of such feature films as When Harry Met Sally…, City Slickers, and Analyze This; as a cast member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which earned him his first Emmy® nomination; and as the acclaimed nine-time host of the Academy Awards®. Crystal has hosted the Grammy Awards® three times and earned five Emmys® for his work as host, writer, and producer on both shows. Crystal won his sixth Emmy® for the HBO Comedy Special Billy Crystal: Midnight Train to Moscow. Crystal’s latest film work includes the 2020 friendship comedy Standing Up, Falling Down opposite Ben Schwartz and 2021’s Here Today in which Crystal directed, produced, and starred opposite Tiffany Haddish.
Crystal, alongside Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, served as co-host of Comic Relief’s televised fundraising events on HBO. Through specials broadcast between 1986 and 2008, Comic Relief raised $75 million to help supply medical aid to the homeless. He was the 2007 recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and is a New York Times best-selling author of five books. In 2004, Crystal made his Broadway debut with the original production of his one-man show 700 Sundays, for which he won a Tony Award®. The Broadway production was released as an HBO special, garnering four Emmy® nominations. In 2022, Crystal returned to Broadway with Mr. Saturday Night, a musical adaptation of the 1992 classic film Mr. Saturday Night. The show received rave reviews along with five Tony® nominations including Best Musical; Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Crystal; and Best Book of a Musical which was written by Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel; and one Grammy® nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album which featured eight songs sung by Crystal.
“I am overwhelmed to be part of this fantastic group of artists. I started performing when I was five years old, making my parents and family laugh. Those laughs have carried me my entire life and career. I so wish they could be at the Kennedy Center for this glorious occasion. It has been a thrilling lifetime of performing in so many different arenas and my heart is full of gratitude to the Kennedy Center, my wife Janice, my children and grandchildren, our family and friends, and all the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. And finally, of course, my wonderful fans.”
Billy Crystal '70 (BFA, Drama), '16 Hon., Dean’s Council