A distant relation of Boris Karloff (born William Henry Pratt).
Crisp was the role model (and appears in the music video) for Sting's 1988 single "Englishman in New York", which includes the lyric "be yourself no matter what they say". Sting described Crisp in an interview as "one of the most courageous men I've ever met". He and Sting worked together in The Bride (1985). John Hurt portrays Crisp in An Englishman in New York (2009), a biographical movie about his life.
Was portrayed to great acclaim by Leon Acord in the 2002 San Francisco stage comedy "Carved in Stone," written by Jeffrey Hartgraves, performed at the Eureka Theatre.
After his death in the Manchester, England suburb Chorlton-cum-Hardy, he was cremated and his ashes were flown back to the United States and scattered over New York City.
Thomas Massengale, director of the indie production Topsy and Bunker: The Cat Killers (1992), said that Crisp - who played the doorman at a fleabag hotel in a rundown New York City neighborhood quite like his own Bowery neighborhood - was delightful to work with.
He was chosen by Channel Four to deliver the first "Alternative Christmas Speech", a counterpoint to the Queen's Christmas speech, in 1993. The Alternative Christmas Speech has been delivered every year since, by among others, cartoon character Marge Simpson.