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To mark turning 65 this year, Billy Crystal decided to turn the tables on his fans: He would give them a birthday present.
And as Crystal himself might say, "Whaddya know?" His new memoir, Still Foolin' 'Em, is a gift indeed.
Subtitled Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?, the book (Henry Holt, Sept. 10) mingles humorous essays on aging with story-packed chapters recounting the funnyman's rise from stand-up comic to film actor and nine-time Oscar host.
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The star of The Princess Bride (1987), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and City Slickers (1991) took time out from rehearsing for the Broadway reprise of his Tony-winning one-man show, 700 Sundays, to talk about the view from Medicare eligibility.
Q: Most of us have one milestone birthday that proves more ominous than the rest. What was it about turning 65 [on March 14] that made you want to look back on your life?
A: I think it was the suddenness: "Whoa, now — this is getting serious!" But why not be funny about it? I originally thought I would go on the road again as my birthday approached, so I starting writing skits about being older. But as I worked on them, they felt more like essays. Several literary agents thought they might make a terrific book.
Q: You look good. Any beauty tips you can share?
A: I share my life with someone I love [Crystal and wife Janice celebrated their 43rd anniversary in June]. That's a great addition to anyone's life. I try to eliminate stress as much as I can. I do workouts to stay fluid — you don't want to let stuff tighten up. And my four grandchildren keep up my mental flexibility, too.
Q: You do know how to celebrate a birthday. For your 60th in 2008, you got to bat in a Yankees uniform. On your 65th this year, your younger daughter, Lindsay, gave birth to your fourth grandchild, Griffin.
A: Yeah, we were planning to throw this really nice dinner and she said, "Dad, I may not make your birthday party." She was exactly right. At first I went, "Is this going to be good, to share my birthday with this new person?" Now I think I may have my 70th at Chuck E. Cheese.
Q: Most people downsize in their later years, but you and Janice added to your home in the Pacific Palisades to make room for your grandkids to stay over. When was your last grandparent playdate?
A: Yesterday. Hudson [Griffin's 3-year-old brother] called me in the morning and said, "I want to come over." We just hung out. We drew pictures and ran around after each other. It was five hours of not doing anything.