Steve Martin

Steve Martin

Infobox Comedian
name = Steve Martin

caption = Martin at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
birth_name = Stephen Glenn Martin
birth_date = birth date and age|1945|8|14
birth_place = Waco, Texas, U.S.
death_date =
website =
influences = British television, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, Laurel and Hardy, Wally Boag [Born Standing Up, pp. 18-19]
influenced = Eddie Izzard, Chris Rock, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Will Forte, David Walliams, Sarah Silverman, Will Arnett, Stephen Colbert, Louis C.K.
emmyawards = Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety or Music
1969 "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"
grammyawards = Best Comedy Album
1978 "Let's Get Small"
1979 "A Wild and Crazy Guy"
Best Country Instrumental Performance
2002 "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
americancomedyawards = Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy
2000 Lifetime Achievement
awards = NYFCC Award for Best Actor
1984 "All of Me"
spouse = Victoria Tennant (20 November 1986 - 1994) [ [ Steve Martin Biography, accessed 13 July 2008] ]
Anne Stringfield (2007-present)

Stephen Glenn Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an Emmy Award-winning American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician and composer.


Early years

Stephen Glenn Martin was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Mary Lee Martin, and Glenn Vernon Martin, a real estate salesman and an aspiring actor. [ [ Steve Martin Biography (1945-) ] ] [Born Standing Up, p. 20] [ [ Steve Martin shows comedy often comes from pain in memoir ] ]

Martin was raised in Garden Grove, California, and is of Irish, Scottish and English descent. One of Steve's earliest memories is of seeing his father, as an extra, serving drinks onstage at the Call Board Theatre on Melrose Place. During the war, in England, Glenn had appeared in a production of "Our Town" with Raymond Massey. Years later, he would write to Massey for help in Steve's fledgling career, but would receive no reply. Yet he was not always so helpful. Expressing his affection through gifts of cars, bikes etc, he was not emotionally open to his son. He was proud of the boy but extremely critical, Steve later recalling that in his teens his feelings for his dad were mostly ones of hatred. [cite web | author= | year= | title= Steve Martin Filmography
url=| accessdate=2006-09-27

Steve's first job was at Disneyland, selling guidebooks on weekends and fulltime during the summer school break. That lasted for three years (1955-1958). During his free time he haunted the Disneyland magic shop, "Merlin's Magic Shop", where tricks were demonstrated to the potential customers. By 1960 he had mastered several of the tricks and illusions, and when a job opened there in August 1960, he applied and was accepted. [Born Standing Up, p. 39] . There he perfected his talents for magic, juggling, playing the banjo and creating balloon animals.

After high school graduation, Martin attended Santa Ana Junior College, taking classes in drama and English poetry. In his free time he teamed up with friend and Garden Grove High School classmate Kathy Westmoreland to participate in comedies and other productions at the Bird Cage Theatre, a theater concession inside Knott's Berry Farm. Later, he met budding actress Stormie Sherk, and they developed comedy routines while becoming romantically involved. Stormie's influence caused Steve to apply to Long Beach State College for enrollment with a major in Philosophy. Stormie enrolled at UCLA, about an hour's drive north, and the distance eventually caused them to lead separate lives. [Born Standing Up, p. 65]

His Philosophy classes intrigued him, and for a short while he considered becoming a professor instead of an actor-comedian. His time at college changed his life:"It changed what I believe and what I think about everything. I majored in philosophy. Something about non sequiturs appealed to me. In philosophy, I started studying logic, and they were talking about cause and effect, and you start to realize, 'Hey, there is no cause and effect! There is no logic! There is no anything!' Then it gets real easy to write this stuff, because all you have to do is twist everything hard—you twist the punch line, you twist the non sequitur so hard away from the things that set it up, that it's easy . . . and it's thrilling."cite web | author= Fong-Torres, Ben | year= 1982| title= Steve Martin Sings: The Rolling Stone Interview | url=| accessdate=2006-09-27] Martin periodically spoofed his philosophy studies in his 1970s stand-up act, comparing philosophy with studying geology. "If you're studying geology, which is all facts, as soon as you get out of school you forget it all, but philosophy you remember just enough to screw you up for the rest of your life." [imdb name|0000188]

In 1967, Martin transferred to UCLA and switched his major to theater. While attending college, he appeared in an episode of "The Dating Game". Martin soon began working local clubs at night, to mixed notices. At the age of twenty-one, he dropped out of college for good. [ [ | Stop the Presses ] ] Martin's girlfriend in 1967, Nina Goldblatt [Born Standing Up, p. 76] was a dancer on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". She helped Martin land a writing job with the show by submitting his work to head writer Mason Williams. Williams initially paid Martin out of his own pocket. Along with the other writers for the show, Martin won an Emmy Award in 1969. Martin also wrote for John Denver (a neighbor of his in Aspen, Colorado, at one point), "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour", and "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." He also appeared on these shows and several others, in various comedy skits.

Martin also performed his own material, sometimes as an opening act for groups such as The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Carpenters. He appeared at San Francisco's "The Boarding House", among other venues. He continued to write, earning an Emmy nomination for his work on "Van Dyke and Company" in 1976.

He was roommates with comedian Gary Mule Deer and singer/guitarist Michael Johnson in the late 1960s.


In the mid-1970s, Martin made frequent appearances as a stand-up comedian on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" [cite web | author=Martin, Steve | year=2008 | title=Being Funny | url= | publisher="Smithsonian Magazine" | accessdate=2008-02-22] . That exposure, together with appearances on "The Gong Show", HBO's "On Location" and NBC's "Saturday Night Live" ("SNL") (on which, despite a common misconception, he was never a cast member) led to his first of four comedy albums, "Let's Get Small". The album was a huge success; one of its tracks, "Excuse Me", helped establish a national catch phrase. His next album, "A Wild and Crazy Guy", was an even bigger success, reaching the #2 spot on the sales chart in the U.S. and featured another catch phrase (the album's title), also featured in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch in which Martin and Dan Aykroyd played a couple of bumbling Czechoslovak would-be playboys, the Festrunk Brothers. The album ended with a song "King Tut", sung and written by Martin and released as a 45 RPM single during the King Tut craze that accompanied the extremely popular traveling exhibit of the Egyptian king's tomb artifacts; the single reached #17 in 1978. The song was backed by the "Toot Uncommons" (they were actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). The album was a million seller. Both albums won Grammys for "Best Comedy Recording" in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Steve performed "King Tut" on the April 22, 1978 edition of SNL. In his comedy albums, Martin's stand-up comedy was clearly self-referential and sometimes self-mocking. It mixes philosophical riffs with sudden spurts of "happy feet", banjo playing with balloon depictions of concepts like venereal disease. His style is off-kilter and ironic, and sometimes pokes fun at stand-up comedy traditions, such as Martin opening his act by saying, "I think there's nothing better for a person to come up and do the same thing over and over for two weeks. This is what I enjoy, so I'm going to do the same thing over and over and over....I'm going to do the same joke over and over in the same show, it'll be like a new thing." Or: "Hello, I'm Steve Martin, and I'll be out here in a minute . . . "

While on Saturday Night Live, Martin became very close with several of the cast members. One was Gilda Radner. On the day Radner died from ovarian cancer in 1989, Martin was to host SNL. Instead of delivering the intended monologue, Martin showed a video clip of him and Radner appearing in a 1978 sketch. He introduced the clip to the audience and became overcome with grief and started to cry. Martin relates (in his "Born Standing Up", pp. 176-177) that in one comedy routine he denies that he is named "Steve Martin"; his real name is "Gern Blanston". He said that the riff took on a life of its own, and there is even a Gern Blanston website, and for a time a rock band used the words as its name.

Movie career

By the end of the 1970s, Martin had acquired the kind of following normally reserved for rock stars, with his tour appearances typically occurring at sold-out arenas filled with tens of thousands of screaming fans. But unknown to his audience, stand-up comedy was "just an accident" for him. His real goal was to get into film. Martin's first film was a short, "The Absent-Minded Waiter" (1977). The seven-minute long film, also featuring Buck Henry and Teri Garr, was written by and starred Martin. The film was nominated for an Academy Award as "Best Short Film, Live Action". His first feature film appearance was in the musical "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", where he sang The Beatles' "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". In 1979, Martin co-wrote and starred in his first full-length movie, "The Jerk", directed by Carl Reiner. The movie was a huge success, grossing over $73 million on a budget of far less than that amount. [cite web | author= Box Office Mojo | year= | title= "THE JERK", box office summary
url=| accessdate=2006-09-27

The success of "The Jerk" opened more doors for Martin. Stanley Kubrick met with him to discuss the possibility of Martin starring in a screwball comedy version of "Traumnovelle" (Kubrick later changed his approach to the material, the result of which was 1999's "Eyes Wide Shut"). Martin was executive producer for "Domestic Life", a prime-time television series starring friend Martin Mull, and a late-night series called "Twilight Theater". It emboldened Martin to try his hand at his first serious film, "Pennies From Heaven", a movie he was anxious to do because of the desire to avoid being typecast. To prepare for that film, Martin took acting lessons from director Herbert Ross, and spent months learning how to tap dance. The film was a financial failure; Martin's comment at the time was "I don't know what to blame, other than it's me and not a comedy."

Martin was in three more Reiner-directed comedies after "The Jerk": "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" in 1982, "The Man with Two Brains" in 1983 and "All of Me" in 1984, possibly his most critically acclaimed comic performance to date. In 1986, Martin joined fellow "Saturday Night Live" veterans Martin Short and Chevy Chase in "¡Three Amigos!", directed by John Landis, and written by Martin, Lorne Michaels, and singer-songwriter Randy Newman. It was originally entitled "The Three Caballeros" and Martin was to be teamed with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. In 1986, Martin was in the movie musical film version of the hit off-Broadway play "Little Shop of Horrors" (based on a famous B-movie), as a sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello. The film also marked the first of three films teaming Martin with actor Rick Moranis. In 1987, Martin joined comedian John Candy in the John Hughes movie "Planes, Trains & Automobiles." That same year, the "Cyrano de Bergerac" adaptation "Roxanne", a film Martin co-wrote, won him a Writers Guild of America, East award and more importantly, the recognition from Hollywood and the public that he was more than a comedian. In 1988, he performed in the Frank Oz comedy "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" alongside Michael Caine.

Martin starred in the Ron Howard film "Parenthood", with Moranis in 1989. He later met with Moranis to make the Mafia comedy "My Blue Heaven" in 1990. In 1991, Martin starred in and wrote "L.A. Story" (a romantic comedy, in which the female lead was played by his then-wife Victoria Tennant) and was a member of the ensemble existentialist tragedy "Grand Canyon" that were both about life in Los Angeles. In a serious role, Martin played a tightly wound Hollywood film producer trying to recover from a traumatic robbery that left him injured. In contrast to the serious tone of "Grand Canyon", Martin also appeared in a remake of the comedy "Father of the Bride" in 1991 (followed by a sequel in 1995). He also starred in the 1992 comedy film HouseSitter, with Goldie Hawn and Dana Delany. Martin also starred with Eddie Murphy in the 1999 comedy Bowfinger.

In David Mamet's 1997 thriller, "The Spanish Prisoner", Martin played a darker role as a wealthy stranger who takes a suspicious interest in the work of a young businessman (Campbell Scott). In 1999, Martin and Hawn starred in a remake of the 1970 Neil Simon comedy, "The Out-of-Towners". By 2003, Martin ranked 4th on the box office stars list, after co-starring in "Bringing Down The House" and starring in "Cheaper By The Dozen", each of which earned over $130 million at U.S. theaters. Both were family comedies.

In 2005, Martin wrote and starred in "Shopgirl", based on his own novella. Martin played a wealthy businessman who strikes up a romance with a Saks Fifth Avenue counter girl (Claire Danes). He also starred in "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" that year. Martin also starred in the 2006 installment of "The Pink Panther", attempting to stand in Peter Sellers' shoes as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. The sequel is scheduled to be released in early 2009. His most recent work to date is the 2008 comedy "Baby Mama", where he plays a holistic and self-absorbed founder of a health foods company.

In 2008, he produced the dramatic thriller "Traitor", starring Don Cheadle. Martin is credited as an executive producer and writing the story.

Other work

Throughout the 1990s, after Tina Brown took over "The New Yorker", Martin wrote various pieces for the magazine. They later appeared in the collection "Pure Drivel". He appeared in a version of "Waiting for Godot" as Vladimir (with Robin Williams as Estragon and Bill Irwin as Lucky). In 1993, Martin wrote the play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile", which had a successful run in several American cities. In 1998, Martin guest starred with U2 in the 200th episode of "The Simpsons" titled "Trash of the Titans." Martin provided the voice for sanitation commissioner Ray Patterson. In 2001, Martin hosted the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. Also in 2001, he played banjo on Earl Scruggs' remake of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". Martin called fellow comedian and banjo player Billy Connolly to tell him, prompting the cry of "you lucky bugger!" Connolly's wife thought he was referring to Martin being chosen as the Oscar's host. The recording was the winner of the Best Country Instrumental Performance category at the following year's Grammys. In 2002, Martin adapted the Carl Sternheim play "The Underpants", which ran Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company. In 2003, Martin hosted the Academy Awards for the second time.

In 2005, Martin hosted a film along with Donald Duck, "", which was intended to show at Disneyland until the end of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration in September 2006, but it is continuing to run indefinitely. Martin was also honored in 2005 with a Disney Legend award, acknowledging Martin's early career at Disneyland and connections with The Walt Disney Company throughout his career. Martin has guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live" 14 times, as of his February 2006 hosting (musical guest: Prince featuring Tamar), breaking his previous record of 13 (now held by fellow frequent host Alec Baldwin) and retaining his title as "SNL"s most frequent host.

Martin has also written two novellas, "Shopgirl" and "The Pleasure of My Company". "Shopgirl" was later turned into a film (see above). In 2007, he published a memoir, "Born Standing Up". "Time" magazine's Lev Grossman named it one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2007, ranking it at #6, and praising it as "a funny, moving, surprisingly frank memoir." [ [,30583,1686204_1686244_1691787,00.html Grossman, Lev; Top 10 Nonfiction Books;] ] In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, Martin was voted one of the top 15 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.


Martin has been involved with artists Allyson Hollingsworth and Cindy Sherman, and the actresses Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Heche and Bernadette Peters. He was married to actress Victoria Tennant from 20 November 1986 until 1994.

On July 28, 2007, Martin married Anne Stringfield (born 1973) at his Los Angeles home. Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey presided over the ceremony. Lorne Michaels, creator of "Saturday Night Live", was his best man. Several of the guests, including close friends Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy, comedian Carl Reiner, and magician/actor Ricky Jay were not informed that a wedding ceremony would take place. Instead, they were told they were invited to a party. [cite web | author=USA Today/Associated Press | year=2007 | title=Steve Martin weds girlfriend Anne Stringfield | url= | accessdate=2007-07-29]

Awards and honors

Along with the other writers for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," Steve won an Emmy Award in 1969.

In 1978 Steve won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for "Let's Get Small," and in 1979 for "A Wild and Crazy Guy." He also shared a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance with Earl Scruggs (and others) for his banjo performance of Foggy Mountain Breakdown. [ [ GRAMMY Winners Search ] ]

On October 23, 2005, Martin was presented with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Martin was honored at the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors on December 1, 2007.


*"The Absent-Minded Waiter" (1977) (short subject)
*"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978)
*"The Muppet Movie" (1979)
*"The Kids Are Alright" (1979) (documentary)
*"The Jerk" (1979) (also writer)
*"Pennies from Heaven" (1981)
*"Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" (1982) (also writer)
*"The Man with Two Brains" (1983) (also writer)
*"The Lonely Guy" (1984)
*"All of Me" (1984)
*"Movers & Shakers" (1985)
*"¡Three Amigos!" (1986) (also writer and executive producer)
*"Little Shop of Horrors" (1986)
*"Roxanne" (1987) (also writer and executive producer)
*"Planes, Trains & Automobiles" (1987)
*"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988)
*"Parenthood" (1989)
*"My Blue Heaven" (1990)
*"L.A. Story" (1991) (also writer and executive producer)
*"Father of the Bride" (1991)
*"Grand Canyon" (1991)
*"HouseSitter" (1992)
*"Leap of Faith" (1992)
*"And the Band Played On" (1993) (Cameo)
*"A Simple Twist of Fate" (1994) (also writer and executive producer)
*"Mixed Nuts" (1994)
*"Father of the Bride Part II" (1995)
*"Sgt. Bilko" (1996)
*"The Spanish Prisoner" (1997)
*"The Prince of Egypt" (1998) (voice: Hotep)
*"The Out-of-Towners" (1999)
*"Bowfinger" (1999) (also writer)
*"The Venice Project" (1999) (Cameo)
*"Fantasia 2000" (1999)
*"Joe Gould's Secret" (2000)
*"Novocaine" (2001)
*"Bringing Down the House" (2003)
*"" (2003)
*"Cheaper by the Dozen" (2003)
*"Jiminy Glick in Lalawood" (2004) (Cameo)
*"Shopgirl" (2005) (also writer and producer)
*"Cheaper by the Dozen 2" (2005)
*"" (2005) (as himself)
*"The Pink Panther" (2006) (A reboot of the earlier series)
*"Wayside" (2007-2008) (He was in two episodes, one in each season)
*"Baby Mama" (2008)
*"The Pink Panther 2" (2009) (officially announced by MGM)


* "The Jerk" (1979) (Written with Carl Gottlieb)
* "Cruel Shoes" (1979)
* "Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the Zig-Zag Woman, Patter for the Floating Lady, WASP" (1996)
* "L.A. Story and Roxanne: Two Screenplays" (published together in 1997)
* "Pure Drivel" (1998)
* "Eric Fischl : 1970 - 2000" (2000) (Afterword)
* "Modern Library Humor and Wit Series" (2000) (Introduction and Series Editor)
* "Shopgirl" (2001)
* "Kindly Lent Their Owner: The Private Collection of Steve Martin" (2001)
* "The Underpants: A Play" (2002)
* "The Pleasure of My Company" (2003)
* "The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z" (2007) (Released October 2007, Children's Books featuring Wacky Couplets for each letter, illustrated by Roz Chast)
* "Born Standing Up" (2007) (Released November 2007 Biography about his Stand-Up Years)


* "Let's Get Small" (1977)
* "King Tut" (1978, 45 RPM music single)
* "A Wild and Crazy Guy" (1978)
* "Comedy Is Not Pretty!" (1979)
* "The Steve Martin Brothers" (1981)


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Comprehensive information site]
* [ Current news on Steve]
* [ Men's Vogue Article]
* [ Esquire interview]
* [ Disney Legends profile]
* [ Review of "Born Standing Up"]

NAME=Martin, Steve
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Martin, Stephen Glen
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Comedian, writer, and entertainer
DATE OF BIRTH=August 14, 1945
PLACE OF BIRTH=Waco, Texas, United States

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