The When Harry Met Sally star was the guest of honour at a benefit gala, organised by the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, which saw pals Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams join in to pay tribute to the actor.
Crystal, a graduate of NYU, reveals the accolade means more to him than most other awards – because he has family ties to the grounds of the Tisch School, which was previously home to The Plaza venue.
Explaining the personal connection, Crystal says, “It was a pretty great night. I was a graduate of NYU. I was pre-Tisch.
“Each year they honour somebody and last night was my turn. It meant a lot to me because from 1949 to 1963, when he passed away suddenly, my father produced these great jazz concerts there every Friday and Saturday night. He’d do these jazz concerts and he really devoted his life to these musicians.
“After he died the building was sold to NYU and when I went to NYU, I’m (studying) in that building that I performed (in) for the first time during those jazz concerts at The Plaza.”
And Crystal managed to convince school heads to spend some of their funds on repairing the historic venue.
He adds, “So they’re gonna renovate this great old building, which means so much to me, and that’s what the honour was last night.”