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Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an Americanmarker actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. He was raised in Southern California in a Baptist family, where his early influences were working at Disneylandmarker and Knott's Berry Farmmarker and working magic and comedy acts at these and other smaller venues in the area. His ascent to fame picked up when he became a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later became a frequent guest on the Tonight Show.

In the 1970s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. In the 1980s, having branched away from stand-up comedy, he became a successful actor, playwright, and juggler, and eventually earned Emmy, Grammy, and American Comedy awards.

Early life

Martin was born in Waco, Texasmarker, the son of Mary Lee Martin and Glenn Vernon Martin, a real estate salesman and an aspiring actor.

Martin was raised in Inglewood, and then later in Garden Grove, California. One of his earliest memories is of seeing his father, as an extra, serving drinks onstage at the Call Board Theatre on Melrose Place. During World War II, 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. Expressing his affection through gifts of cars, bikes etc., Glenn 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.

His first job was at Disneylandmarker, 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 took a job there in August 1960. There he perfected his talents for magic, juggling, playing the banjo and creating balloon animals frequently performing for tips.

Attending Garden Grove High School, rumor has it that after being elected to a position on the student council, he made a giant banner that looked like a bra that stated, "Thank you for your support". 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 Schoolmarker classmate Kathy Westmoreland to participate in comedies and other productions at the Bird Cage Theatremarker, a theater concession inside Knott's Berry Farmmarker. Later, he met budding actress Stormie Sherk, and they developed comedy routines while becoming romantically involved. Stormie's influence caused Steve to apply to the California State University, Long Beachmarker for enrollment with a major in Philosophy. Stormie enrolled at UCLAmarker, about an hour's drive north, and the distance eventually caused them to lead separate lives.

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 sequitur 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." 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."
Martin in 1982.

In 1967, Martin transferred to UCLAmarker 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 age twenty-one, he dropped out of college for good.


Early career

In 1967, his former girlfriend Nina Goldblatt, a dancer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, 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. He also wrote for John Denver (a neighbor of his in Aspenmarker, Coloradomarker, 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. During these years his roommates included comedian Gary Mule Deer and singer/guitarist Michael Johnson.

Martin also performed his own material, sometimes as an opening act for groups such as The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Carpenters, and Toto. He appeared at San Franciscomarker'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.

In the mid-1970s, Martin made frequent appearances as a stand-up comedian on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. That exposure, together with appearances on The Gong Show, HBO's On Location and NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL) (of 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, and the controversial kitten juggling (he is a master juggler). 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 . . . "

During his frequent SNL guest appearances, Martin popularized the air quotes gesture, which uses four fingers to make double quote marks in the air.

Martin related that in one comedy routine (used on the Comedy Is Not Pretty! LP) 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.

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. On the episode, 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 has guest-hosted Saturday Night Live 15 times, as of his January 2009 hosting (musical guest: Jason Mraz), breaking his previous record of 14 (now held by fellow frequent host Alec Baldwin) and retaining his title as SNL's most frequent host (a record Martin has held since 1989, when he beat Buck Henry's record of ten).

Acting 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.

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 Caballero 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 Hollywoodmarker 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 Angelesmarker. In a serious role, Martin played a tightly wound Hollywoodmarker 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). He appeared in a version of Waiting for Godot as Vladimir (with Robin Williams as Estragon and Bill Irwin as Lucky). 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 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 box office hit The Pink Panther, standing in Peter Sellers' shoes as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, a role which he reprised in 2009's The Pink Panther 2. His other 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.


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. In 1993, Martin wrote the play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which had a successful run in several Americanmarker cities. In 2009, after the La Grande, Oregonmarker school board refused to allow the play to be performed after several parents complained about the content, Martin offered to pay to ensure that the students could put on the production off-site.

In 2002, Martin adapted the Carl Sternheim play The Underpants, which ran Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company.In 2008, he produced and wrote the story for the dramatic thriller Traitor, starring Don Cheadle.

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."


In 2001, Martin hosted the 73rd Annual Academy Awards; he hosted it again in 2003 for the Academy Awards. It has recently been announced that he will co-host the 82nd Academy Awards with Alec Baldwin.

In 2005, Martin hosted a film along with Donald Duck, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, which was intended to show at Disneyland until the end of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration in September 2006, but continued to run until March 15, 2009.


Steve Martin Playing with the Steep Canyon Rangers in Seattle.
In 2001, he played banjo on Earl Scruggs' remake of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". The recording was the winner of the Best Country Instrumental Performance category at the following year's Grammys.Martin released his first all-music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo with appearances from stars such as Dolly Parton, exclusively to on January 27, 2009, with a wider release on May 19, 2009.

In the American Idol Season 8 Finals, he performed alongside Michael Sarver and Megan Joy in the song "Pretty Flowers".

Martin played banjo along with the Steep Canyon Rangers on the June 27, 2009 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, and began a two-month U.S. tour with the Rangers in September 2009, including an appearances at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco, Carnegie Hallmarker in New York., and Benaroya Hallmarker in Seattlemarker.On November 9th 2009 he and the Steep Canyon Rangers played 'An evening of Bluegrass and Banjo' at the Royal Festival Hall in London with support from Mary Black.

Martin played his banjo for a few moments during an interview on the Late Show with David Letterman on October 5, 2009. He also appeared in a comedy skit, showing him playing the banjo with the head of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and playing for the UN.

Martin appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, series 35 episode 9 playing his banjo accompanied by Steep Canyon Rangers.

Personal life

Martin was married to actress Victoria Tennant from November 20, 1986, until 1994. On July 28, 2007, Martin married Anne Stringfield 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, and were surprised by the nuptials.

Awards and honors

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

In 1978 Martin 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".

In August 1989 Martin received the first honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from California State University Long Beach, where he studied philosophy 1964 to 1967 before transferring to UCLA for theater.

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

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


Year Film Role Notes
1977 The Absent-Minded Waiter Short Subject
1978 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Dr. Maxwell Edison
1979 The Muppet Movie Insolent Waiter
The Kids Are Alright Documentary
The Jerk Navin R. Johnson Also Writer
1981 Pennies from Heaven Arthur Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Rigby Reardon Also Writer
1983 The Man with Two Brains Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr Also Writer
1984 The Lonely Guy Larry Hubbard
All of Me Roger Cobb National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

1985 Movers & Shakers Fabio Longio
1986 ¡Three Amigos! Lucky Day Also Writer and Executive Producer
Little Shop of Horrors Orin Scrivello, DDS Billed as "Special Appearance"
1987 Roxanne C.D. Bales Also Writer and Executive Producer
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Planes, Trains & Automobiles Neal Page
1988 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Freddy Benson
1989 Parenthood Gil Buckman Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1990 My Blue Heaven Vinnie Antonelli
1991 L.A. Story Harris K. Telemacher Also Writer and Executive Producer
Father of the Bride George Banks Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
Grand Canyon Davis
1992 HouseSitter Newton Davis
Leap of Faith Jonas Nightengale
1993 And the Band Played On The Brother Cameo
1994 A Simple Twist of Fate Michael McCann Also Writer and Executive Producer
Mixed Nuts Philip
1995 Father of the Bride Part II George Banks Nominated - American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1996 Sgt. Bilko Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko
1997 The Spanish Prisoner Jimmy Dell
1998 The Prince of Egypt Hotep Voice
1999 The Out-of-Towners Henry Clark
Bowfinger Bobby Bowfinger Also writer
The Venice Project Cameo
Fantasia 2000 Introductory Host Disney Re-Release
2000 Joe Gould's Secret Charlie Duell
2001 Novocaine Frank Sangster
2003 Bringing Down the House Peter Sanderson
Looney Tunes: Back in Action Mr. Chairman
Cheaper by the Dozen Tom Baker
2004 Jiminy Glick in Lalawood Cameo
The Merchant of Venice Cameo
CinderElmo Barney Peters
2005 Shopgirl Ray Porter Also Writer and Producer
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Tom Baker
Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years As himself
2006 The Pink Panther Inspector Clouseau A remake of the earlier series
2007 and 2008 Wayside Starred in two episodes, one in each season
2008 Baby Mama Barry
Traitor Writer and Producer
2009 The Pink Panther 2 Inspector Clouseau Also Screenplay
It's Complicated Adam
2011 Cheaper by the Dozen 3 Tom Baker


  • 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)



Year Album Chart Positions
US US Bluegrass
1977 Let's Get Small 10
1978 A Wild and Crazy Guy 2
1979 Comedy Is Not Pretty! 25
1981 The Steve Martin Brothers 135
2009 The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo 93 1


Year Single Chart Positions
1977 "Grandmother's Song" 72
1978 "King Tut" 17
1979 "Cruel Shoes" 91

TV specials

Title Year Network
Steve Martin: A Wild and Crazy Guy 1978 NBC
All Commercials... A Steve Martin Special 1980 NBC
Steve Martin: Comedy is Not Pretty 1980 NBC
Steve Martin's Best Show Ever 1981 NBC
The Winds of Whoopie 1983 NBC


  1. Steve Martin Biography (1945-2012)
  2. Born Standing Up, p. 20
  3. Steve Martin shows comedy often comes from pain in memoir
  4. Born Standing Up, p. 39
  5. Born Standing Up, p. 65
  6. | Stop the Presses
  7. Born Standing Up, p. 76
  8. (in his Born Standing Up, pp. 176-177)
  9. Martin: Show Will Go On, On My Dime Yahoo News, March 15, 2009
  10. Grossman, Lev; Top 10 Nonfiction Books;
  12. Steve Martin Guardian Article
  14. Madison, Tjames., August 4, 2009. "Steve Martin and his banjo map fall tour." Retrieved on October 4, 2009,
  16. [1]
  18. [2]
  19. GRAMMY Winners Search
  20. Los Angeles Times via Sydney Morning Herald; August 28, 1989 Late Edition; NEWS AND FEATURES; Pg. 11

External links

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