Billy Crystal comes to aid of Historical Society


Billy Crystal, Long Beach’s most well-known figure, who raised $1 million in 2013 to help the city rebuild after Superstorm Sandy the year before, was at it again last Saturday, this time on behalf of the Long Beach Historical Society building on West Penn Street, that is badly in need of repair.

Crystal, 74, who grew up in Long Beach and graduated from the city’s high school with the class of 1965, put three of his memorabilia up for auction at the historical society to raise funds for renovations.

Up for bidding – that will last until the end of February – are a signed copy of the Oscar-nominated script for “When Harry Met Sally,” starring Crystal and Meg Ryan and written by Nora Ephron.

Also at auction is a signed copy of Crystal’s autobiography, “700 Sundays,” which recounts the days he spent with his father, who died in 1963 at the age of 54. The book was adapted into a Tony-award-winning one-man play performed by Crystal himself.

Additionally, there is an 8” by 10” photo portrait of the one-eyed green monster (Mike Wazowski) that Crystal voiced for Pixar’s “Monster’s Inc.” and its prequel “Monsters University.”

Karen Adamo, the society’s co-president, said on Sunday that online bids have already started coming in. There was a $400 bid for the film “When Harry Met Sally.” There was a $350 bid for the book “700 Sundays,” and a $750 bid for the portrait.

“We requested a donation from Billy” for the restoration, Adamo said. “This is his donation.”

Bids can be made through or on the society’s website.

Neil Blaauboer, of Long Beach, walked into the society’s building Saturday morning and placed a $450 bid for “When Harry Met Sally.”

“I saw the movie,” Blaauboer said. “But Billy gave a bunch of money after Sandy. He’s a local who cares about Long Beach.”

In 2013, Crystal and some others, including the heavyweight fighter Mohammed Ali, Steve Martin, Robert DeNiro, and Robin Williams, raised $888,000. Crystal and his wife, Janice, personally donated $112,000, making the total gift $1 million.

“Janice and I thought that $888,000 is a great amount of money,” Crystal said at the time.  “But $1 million sounds better.”

In 2022, the 113-year-old society building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, said it needed $140,000 in repairs. That same year, Harvey Weisenberg, a former city council president, police officer and Long Beach teacher, wrote a check for $25,000 to help get renovations started.