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Meg Ryan admits to 'falling in love' with Billy Crystal as she honors him and his five-decade long marriage

Meg and Billy starred together in 1989's When Harry Met Sally…

Meg Ryan cuddled up to Billy Crystal in a promotional photo for When Harry Met Sally
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
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Billy Crystal was honored at the 46th Kennedy Center Honors on December 3rd in Washington DC, which also paid homage to honorees Queen Latifah, Dionne Warwick, Barry Gibb, and Renée Fleming.

The 75-year-old actor and comedian received gushing tributes at the ceremony from the likes of Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jay Leno, and his beloved co-star and close friend Meg Ryan, who is making her own return to the spotlight.

In fact, for Billy's moment and Meg's tribute, the set of Katz's Delicatessen was actually recreated on stage to spoof that iconic When Harry Met Sally… scene.

Billy Crystal and wife Janice Crystal pose backstage at the opening night of the new musical based on the 1992 film "Mr. Saturday Night" on Broadway at The Nederlander Theatre on April 27, 2022 in New York City.© Getty Images
Meg Ryan paid tribute to her former co-star and his long marriage

Meg, 62, talked about how it was in fact that the nine-time Oscar host who came up with the line "I'll have what she's having," which now lives in the movie quote hall of fame, and that the spontaneous racy scene was quite a collaboration between the pair.

"The scene came really naturally to me, and I really have Billy to thank for that," she joked to the audience, but then turned the attention to his loving marriage to wife Janice Crystal née Goldfinger, which has remained strong for over 50 years.

"As his wife Janice has known for over 50 years, falling in love with Billy is a pretty easy thing to do," she remarked to a resounding series of "awws" from the room.

Meg Ryan at THE 46TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, which will air Wednesday, Dec. 27 on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+© Getty Images
Meg celebrated her friend's honor in a set recreation of Katz's Delicatessen

Billy and Janice were high school sweethearts, and they celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary this year. The two are parents to daughters Jennifer, 50, and Lindsay, 46, and are also grandparents.

MORE: Meg Ryan's jaw-dropping kitchen transformation inside her million-dollar Montecito home is a sight to behold

In his speech, the celebrated Mr. Saturday Night star spoke openly about his life with his wife and two daughters and gushed about reflecting on his legacy being both his acting career and his family.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal pose for the movie "When Harry Met Sally" circa 1989© Getty Images
The pair co-starred in 1989's smash hit "When Harry Met Sally..."

"I think about how lucky I've been to start my life the way I did," he shared. "We are the product of our environment, and I was brought home to a house filled with music and the music of American jazz and laughter."

MORE: Meg Ryan shares rare details of motherhood role as she makes return to Hollywood

He also added a presidential theme to his speech, continuing: "The luckiest thing of all is that in 1966, I met a beautiful girl on the beach. I was eighteen, and she was seventeen. Fifty-seven years later, we're married. We started dating during the Johnson administration if that helps at all."

Queen Latifah and Barry Gibb. Pictured (L-R bottom row) Renée Fleming, Billy Crystal, and Dionne Warwick were recognized for their achievements in the performing arts during THE 46TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, which will air Wednesday, Dec. 27 © Getty Images
Billy was honored alongside Queen Latifah, Barry Gibb, Renée Fleming, and Dionne Warwick

Their daughters were present with their husbands to support their beloved dad. "We have two beautiful daughters who are with us tonight, who grew up during my career. None of this happens without the partnership I've shared with Janice over the years.

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"And my two girls are here tonight with their wonderful husbands. What I do for a living is joy. But the real work is taking two little infants and watching them become the great women and mothers they are today."

Special Guests Lindsay Crystal, Janice Crystal, Billy Crystal, and Jennifer Crystal Foley attend the Opening Night Gala at the 2019 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival on April 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California.© Getty Images
"What I do for a living is joy. But the real work is taking two little infants and watching them become the great women and mothers they are today."

He sweetly concluded: "And I know they're looking at me right now with this beautiful medallion on my neck. You've grown up throughout my career, and I know what you're thinking, 'Who's going to get that when he's gone?' Thank you, Kennedy Center, I toast you!"

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