March 14: ‘You rook mahvelous’ on your special day

March 14 — If your birthday is today, “you rook mahvelous” …

Billy Crystal (1948), who turns 73 today, had a lengthy history in comedy and comedic roles beginning with a ground-breaking role as one of TV’s first openly gay characters on “Soap” (1977–81). Crystal attended NYU with Oliver Stone and Christopher Guest. He joined the cast of SNL for the 1984–85 season, where his recurring character, Fernando Lamas, uttered the catchphrase “You look mahvelous,” which became a bit of a fad, even landing him a spot in a 1986 Diet Pepsi ad campaign. That same year, he began hosting Comic Relief with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. And if he wasn’t a household name by then, he certainly was after starring with Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally …” (1989).

Rick Dees (1950) turns 71, and while he built a career on informing us of the top 40 songs in America from week to week, he had one on the charts himself in 1976. Dees wrote and performed “Disco Duck” on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack (1977), and it hit no. 1 in October 1976.

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OTD in 1986, illusionist David Copperfield defeated years of military and immigration policy by walking through the Great Wall of China. It was Copperfield’s eighth TV special on CBS and his first filmed outside the US. He began on a platform on one side of the wall, disappeared behind sheets, then emerged on a platform on the other side of the wall. Applause presumably followed.