Scan­dal-free yarn



‘‘A Hol­ly­wood au­to­bi­og­ra­phy with only one wife, no re­hab, a lov­ing fam­ily and loyal friends.’’

Robin Wil­liams’ en­dorse­ment of his good friend Billy Crys­tal’s new book makes it sound deathly dull. In truth though, it’s an en­gag­ing and en­light­en­ing, if light read.

Part rant, part mem­oir, part Paul Reiser- es­que ( Cou­ple­hood, Baby­hood) re­la­tion­ship ad­vice book, Still Foolin’ Em, sub­ti­tled Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Go­ing and Where the Hell Are My Keys, not only traces Crys­tal’s rise to the up­per ech­e­lons of Hol­ly­wood, but also of­fers his per­spec­tives on the ab­sur­di­ties and chal­lenges of grow­ing old.

There are a chap­ters on sex, grand­par­ent­ing, de­clin­ing health and death, as the re­cently turned 65-year-old re­veals his self-con­fessed in­creas­ingly con­ser­va­tive views (‘‘I don’t live in Cal­i­for­nia any­more, I live in a state of per­ma­nent an­noy­ance.’’), on cat own­er­ship, soc­cer, the NRA, cli­mate change de­niers (‘‘They’re the same peo­ple who think OJ is in­no­cent.’’) and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘The in­ter­net says it’s for every­body. Tell that to the news­pa­pers it has put out of busi­ness, the mu­sic in­dus­try it has crip­pled and the book stores who have closed,’’ he vents.

Such di­a­tribes are fre­quent but yet win­ningly de­liv­ered with the same mix of self-dep­re­ca­tion and smarts that has marked out his long­stand­ing ca­reer in com­edy.

How­ever, those af­ter in­ti­mate, be­hind-the-scenes de­tail of the nine­time Os­car host and six-time Emmy win­ner’s var­i­ous movie projects will be left some­what dis­ap­pointed.

The Princess Bride and Throw Momma From the Train rate only a pass­ing men­tion, while Mon­sters, Inc is barely namechecked.

When Harry Met Sally gets a lit­tle more space, if only to of­fer a slightly new per­spec­tive on Meg Ryan’s fa­mous deli or­gasm.

But while the anec­dotes about Crys­tal’s long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with sport­ing greats Mickey Man­tle and Muham­mad Ali and his life-long love af­fairs with Sophia Loren and the New York Yan­kees wear a lit­tle thin, it’s his will­ing­ness to share in­ti­mate mo­ments and some of his less than glo­ri­ous hours that will win the ca­sual reader over.

Whether it’s his dis­as­trous hon­ey­moon, get­ting punched in the stom­ach by Joe Di Mag­gio or host­ing the Os­cars while bat­tling pneu­mo­nia, Crys­tal’s an­tics will raise a smile ev­ery few pages.

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