Billy Crystal and friends donate $1 million to Long Beach

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Mark Tannenbaum, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the commercial would help local businesses. “For him to do what he did, and then top it off by writing a personal check — not too many celebrities do things like that for their hometown,” Tannenbaum said. “And to film a commercial in Long Beach is tremendous.”

“It’s wonderful that he still cares,” said Baldwin Harbor resident Pam Schlissel, who came to the event.

“The energy that Billy brings to Long Beach is exactly what we need,” said Councilman Len Torres, who taught at Long Beach High School with Crystal’s brother, Joel, a former City Council president. “He’s doing a whole commercial to market Long Beach, and that’s what we need.”

Joe Ponte, 65, said he attended East School with Crystal. “We were good friends,” Ponte said, adding that Crystal was active in sports. “Billy was always here; he never really left. His roots are always in Long Beach and his family. He’s always been an outstanding person.”

When the film crew was ready to begin shooting, more than 200 people who were gathered on the beach were asked to cheer for the cameras. Afterward, someone in the crowd shouted, “How’d we do, Billy?”

“You were fabulous!” Crystal said.

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