Best Known For
From Three Amigos to Saturday Night Live to Broadway, Canadian comedian Martin Short has amused audiences both on screen and on stage.
Martin Short - Full Episode (45:19)
From SCTV to Saturday Night Live and Primetime Glick, Martin Short has spent decades entertaining audiences with his original characters.
A short biography of Martin Short who overcame early tragedy to become a fearless performer. He's best known for his work on "SCTV" and "Saturday Night Live."
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Born in Canada in 1950, actor and comedian Martin Short toured with Toronto's Second City comedy troupe before moving to New York, where he was cast on Saturday Night Live. Movie roles soon followed, and Short appeared in some of the biggest comedy hits of the 1980s, including Innerspace and Three Amigos.
"Being the youngest of five, you're adored, you're fueled with confidence."
Martin Hayter Short was born on March 26, 1950, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Known for his wacky characters and dead-on impressions, Martin Short was a born entertainer, aspiring to have his own variety show at an early age. Up in his bedroom, Short would record a show of his own making, which featured songs and interviews. "I wanted to be Frank Sinatra; I thought being Frank was cool," Short told People magazine.
His family was supportive of his creative efforts and his siblings often joined in the fun. "Being the youngest of five, you're adored, you're fueled with confidence." Short told TIME magazine. His mother, Olive, was a violinist and concert master for the Hamilton Symphony, and she offered her son constructive feedback on his singing. His business executive father, Charles, was also unfazed by his son's activities. "Absurdity and eccentricity were not criticized," Short told reporters.
But Short's seemingly idyllic life was not without personal hardship. His oldest brother died in a car accident when Short was only 12 years old. His mother then fought a long battle against cancer, during which Short and rest of his family worked hard to keep her spirits up. Sadly, she died when Short was 18. He suffered another loss a few years later, when his father passed away after a stroke. Despite these great losses, however, Short remained upbeat and positive. "I never looked at it as if it was a tragedy—that I didn't have them my whole life ... our whole family took the attitude that if you have wonderful moments, don't second-guess them, just enjoy them," he said.
At McMaster University, Short studied for a degree in social work. He also began exploring his interest in performing during his last year of school. Auditioning for a 1972 production of Godspell, Short was surprised to land a role. "I couldn't believe it. I'd been in show business for about an hour and suddenly I had a job," he said. It was during the run of the show that Short became acquainted with fellow cast member Nancy Dolman, and the two began dating.
After Godspell, Short worked on a number of stage productions and television programs in Toronto. He served as the host of a weekly Canadian music show, Right On (1972), before joining the Toronto's Second City comedy troupe. Before long, Short moved to New York where he landed a role on the short-lived sitcom The Associates in 1979.
Soon after the show was canceled in 1980, Short endured another sitcom flop—I'm a Big Girl Now (1980) with Danny Thomas and Diana Canova—before landing his first big break. He joined the cast of the popular late night comedy show SCTV, which featured the likes of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas among others.
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