Happy 75th birthday to comedian and actor Billy Crystal! What better gift to celebrate than an honorary Oscar? The academy board of governors will meet later in the spring to decide the 2023 honorary recipients (life achievement, Jean Hersholt and Thalberg). We are hoping that acting governors Whoopi Goldberg, Marlee Matlin and Rita Wilson will put forth Crystal’s name.
Crystal has hosted the Oscars ceremony nine times from 1990 through 2012. He was spectacular in those appearances with an opening musical number each time and sheer joy throughout each show. He really set the standard for what an all-encompassing comedy and musical job can be done for a big awards ceremony. Who can forget his Hannibal Lecter impression with Anthony Hopkins, riding in on a horse to salute “Dances with Wolves,” honoring the elderly movie pioneer Hal Roach or his Jack Palance jokes, just to name a few? He was nominated 11 times at the Emmys for his work on the Oscars (hosting, writing and program), winning three times.
The only other person who came close to Crystal in terms of quantity and quality was the legendary Bob Hope who hosted 19 times between 1939 and 1977. The board of governors during those decades thought so much of the work by Hope on those ceremonies that they presented him with four honorary awards (plus a humanitarian award):
Honorary Oscar (1941) — In recognition of his unselfish services to the motion picture industry (special silver plaque).
Honorary Oscar (1945) — For his many services to the academy (Life Membership in the AMPAS).
Honorary Oscar (1953) — For his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise.
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1960)
Honorary Oscar (1966) — For unique and distinguished service to our industry and the academy (gold medal).
So Crystal deserves an Honorary Oscar of his own simply for his services to the academy. But his career also warrants attention, having starred in several films that were Academy Awards nominees (although he hasn’t personally been nominated). That includes “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “City Slickers,” “Mr. Saturday Night” and “Monsters, Inc.”
With many current members of the academy growing up during Crystal’s era of Oscar hosting, can you imagine the ovation he will receive at the Governors Awards event in Hollywood next November?
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