Oprah: I know that you've been married for more than 30 years.

Billy: Thirty-four.

Oprah: I love this quote from you: "I fell in love with the right person, a person I know and who knows me."

Billy: And we still find interesting things to talk about. I think she's more beautiful now than at any other time in her life. I just look at her and go, "Damn, girl, you're beautiful." I tell her that every day.

Oprah: What do you love most about her?

Billy: She's the kindest, most considerate, most honest person I've ever met. Straight dealer. No bullshit. Not a phony moment. And yet I don't recall her ever saying anything mean-spirited. Honesty's a rare commodity, and she's direct in a sweet way.

Oprah: And she knew you before you were "Billy Crystal."

Billy: I've never been that to her. She smacks me around!

Oprah: You mentioned earlier that before you were a professional comedian, you were a teacher. What did you teach?

Billy: I was a per diem floater in the same junior high school I went to. I sat in the office and made $42.50 a day, and whenever a teacher was absent, I'd substitute. I taught everything from English to auto shop. I'd be at the front of a class saying, "Listen, I don't know anything about science, but these two guys walk into a bar..." I'd only been out of school for a few years. I couldn't bring myself to call the teachers by their first names. I was like, "Ed, could you pass...? No, no, you're Mr. Graff to me." And the funniest part was being in the teachers' lounge.

Oprah: Isn't it amazing? When you're a kid, you always wonder what's going on in there.

Billy: It was like a mansion. Like Hef's place. Then I found out it was just a room where the teachers could smoke.

Oprah: I once saw my teacher out of school, with her own kids. It was the most shocking thing. I don't think kids think this way about their teachers anymore.

Billy: Now they date them! Around this time, I got out of the draft. God winked at me. Vietnam was raging, and the 1970 draft lottery was on television. I was dying: My life could be decided by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, with 365 Ping-Pong balls and a hopper. The first 200 numbers called? Goodbye, you're goin' to 'Nam. By the time I got home that day, the first hundred had been called. I dialed Mom and said, "What happened with the lottery?" She said, "There's a two-hour Bonanza on. I didn't see it." Later I was watching The Joe Franklin Show, and they were running a ticker tape of the lottery numbers. I was free. I'd just been offered a permanent teaching job on Long Island, but I didn't take it. Instead I called two friends and said, "Let's form a comedy group."


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