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Billy Crystal’s Howard Cosell Story On Letterman Last Night Wins Everything

Billy Crystal was strumpeting his new book, “Still Foolin’ Em” on “The Late Show With David Letterman” on Tuesday night, and aside from an unfortunate video skit that featured Regis Philbin in a raccoon costume, the segment was pretty great. That’s because half of it was Crystal’s story about Howard Cosell.

Cosell, says Crystal, was his first guest when Crystal hosted “The Tonight Show” for the first time, filling in for Johnny Carson. Cosell insisted that he didn’t require a pre-show interview, because he and Crystal were friends and “had a shorthand.” So the night of the show arrives.


“OK. I’m in the dressing room, I’m five minutes from hosting The Tonight Show. … Knock on the door, I open it up and it’s Howard. And with all due respect to his family, his friends — he was loaded. He was deeply in the bag. And I see that and I go ‘Howard, how are you?’ And he starts to weep. … And he collapses in my arms. And you know Howard, we was a large man. He was like 6-foot-3, and here I am holding a weeping Howard Cosell, with a Dynel wig in my face.”

Check out the video for Crystal’s account of Cosell’s appearance on the show, which includes a reference to Muhammad Ali and “The Thrilla In Manila”.

Speaking of that, one of my favorite Crystal stories is of when he attended Cosell’s funeral, and was sitting next to Ali. And Ali leans over to Crystal, motioning to the casket, and whispers “Do you think he’s wearing his toupee?”

Crystal (trying not to laugh): “I don’t think so.”

Ali: “Then how will God know it’s him?”

Crystal: “As soon as he starts complaining, he’ll know.”

  • Jerry Baustian

    Billy Crystal — still the best.

    David Letterman — what a putz.

  • Kingfish49

    That story never happened, or else it happened to someone other than Billy Crystal. Look it up. Cosell never appeared on the Tonight Show with Crystal guest-hosting.

  • SkyFell

    What complete crapola. It’s sad to see Crystal stooping to fabricate false stories to sell his book. Billy Crystal never interviewed Cosell in either of Crystal’s hostings. That is just a fact. The story is a lie.

  • sknyrd77

    Sept, 11, 1986 Billy Crystal guest hosts the Tonight Show. Guests are Howard Cosell, Richard Lewis and Larry Gatlin.. This is well documented. Do some research before posting. JEEZ!


    WRONG! Cosell appeared along with Richard Lewis and musical guest Larry Gatlin on Sept. 11, 1986 Tonight Show -guest host BILLY CRYSTAL.

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