Celebrity Parents: Billy Crystal

For the acclaimed actor, comedian, and director becoming a grandfather is the role of a lifetime.


Used with permission from
HarperCollins Children's Books

Billy Crystal will never forget the day his oldest daughter, Jenny, told him he was going to be a grandfather. It was the first anniversary of his mother's death, which had been a traumatic loss for the entire Crystal clan. "It's been one thing that got me out of the sadness I was in," he says. "When you see how life works -- someone has to leave to make room for the new -- it changes your whole point of view about life. I've been smiling ever since."

The acclaimed comedian and actor, who is the father of two grown daughters, Jennifer, an actress married to Michael Foley, a writer for TV's American Dreams, and Lindsay, a director, describes the months leading up to the birth of his first grandchild as an emotional roller coaster: "It had all kinds of hooks in me, seeing my firstborn looking so much like my wife when she was pregnant with her."

Overwhelmed by his feelings, Crystal sat down one night to write to his unborn grandchild. At the time, he didn't know whether it would be a boy or girl. "Jenny and Mike didn't want to know, which I love," he says. "It's one of life's last great surprises." Crystal, famous for his lovable guy roles in Analyze This, City Slickers, and When Harry Met Sally, had intended to create something that would be bound into a book or framed as a keepsake, but when he finished the first draft that night, he wanted to share what he'd written. The actor sent it to his editors at HarperCollins, who were waiting for him to finish a different manuscript, one about being funny as a child. (It was to have been his first children's book but will now be his second.) The happy result: I Already Know I Love You, a tribute to the special moments grandparents share with their grandkids.

In the heartwarming book, illustrated in soft pastels by Elizabeth Sayles, a grandfather anticipates the birth of his grandchild: "I took your mom to her first movie. I want to take you, too. That will be a special day devoted just to you. When I took your mommy, I never watched the screen. The movie was in her smile -- to her it was a dream."

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