Richard “Rip” Crystal was born into a show business family. His father, Jack, produced jazz concerts and managed the legendary Commodore Music Shop in Manhattan. His mother, Helen, was an amateur actress and encouraged her three sons to take part in school plays. The Crystal Boys (Joel, Rip and Billy) performed comedy routines at all the family functions and were sports crazy kids. Upon graduation from Long Beach High School on Long Island in 1963, Rip attended the University of Bridgeport on a basketball scholarship. During his first semester, his father, just 54 years of age, died of a massive heart attack. With the family under great emotional and financial strain, Rip moved back home, worked in the jewelry exchange on 47th street in Manhattan and continued his education in the School of General Studies at Brooklyn College.
He was encouraged by a drama professor to audition for the Brooklyn College Opera Theater and was cast as Simone in Puccini’s one act comic opera, “Gianni Schicci”. It was this performance that caught the eye of a guest instructor at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada and earned him a full scholarship in their musical theater division. He was cast as Conrad Birdie in their touring production of “Bye, Bye Birdie” and received rave reviews. Rip returned to Brooklyn College to finish his Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama when he answered an open call listed in Backstage magazine. He was selected from over 500 young performers to be a Kraft Music Hall singer by producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion and was featured in a number of NBC variety specials that starred Bobby Darin, Liza Minelli, Tony Randall and Michelle Lee. During the next few years in New York, he studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio and voice with Albert Malver. He starred in numerous musicals including “The Fantasticks”, “Jacques Brel”, “Finian’s Rainbow” and revues “The Great American Fun Factory”, “What’s A Nice Country Like You Doing In A State Like This?” and “Nash at Nine” – a Broadway musical revue based on Ogden Nash’s poetry.
Besides his blossoming career as a singer and actor, Rip was writing and developing projects for movies and television. His eyewitness account in 1971 of the riot at the Newport Jazz Festival was published in High Fidelity Magazine as the featured article in their year end issue. He moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and shortly thereafter sold his first original screenplay, “Hoops” to NBC as a two-hour movie for television. He continued writing scripts and performing small roles in a number of movies but his career really took off when he created a comedy/reality show called “Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments”. The show became a big hit for ABC and Rip grew into his natural role as a writer/producer/show runner under the guidance of Executive Producers Alan Landsburg and Woody Fraser. During the next twenty years, Rip produced dozens of shows among them “Wild and Crazy Kids” for Nickelodeon, “Family Challenge” for Fox Family, “America Talks Back” for Lifetime and “Funny Flubs and Screw-Ups” for CBS. For six seasons, Rip produced the highly successful “The Planet’s Funniest Animals” for the Animal Planet and for three seasons produced “Pet Star” – the search for America’s most talented pet hosted by Mario Lopez.
His love of basketball resulted in his writing and producing the life story of basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar which won the prestigious International Film and TV Festival of New York Gold Award for Best Sports Video of 1989. With Executive Producer Rob Reiner, Rip produced “But…Seriously” – a look back at the history of America as seen through the eyes of our greatest standup comedians. The feature length documentary premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and was broadcast by the Showtime Cable Network. For Castle Rock Entertainment and Warner Bros., Rip created and produced the feature film “Murder By Numbers”, a suspense thriller starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt. After his mother’s death in 2001, Rip returned to his love of singing jazz and has performed at the Hollywood Grill at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles and Feinstein’s at the Regency Hotel in New York. In 2009, Rip underwent open-heart surgery which led him to write “Journey of the Heart” – a personal memoir detailing the profound effect the experience had on his life.