Steve Martin

Steve Martin Biography

Producer, Author (1945–)
Comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin found fame starring in such films as 'The Jerk,' 'All of Me,' 'Little Shop of Horrors' and 'Father of the Bride.'


Born on August 14, 1945, in Waco, Texas, Steve Martin left college in 1967 to write for TV. He released four comedy albums between 1977 and 1981, winning Grammy Awards for Let's Get Small and A Wild and Crazy Guy. In 1979, he starred in his first full-length feature film, The Jerk, and later went on to success with Father of the Bride and numerous other films. More recently, in Martin released The Crow, a collection of banjo compositions that went on to earn him the Grammy for Bluegrass Album of the Year, and two follow-up albums. 

Early Life

Steve Martin was born August 14, 1945, in Waco, Texas, the son of a real estate executive. When he was five, Martin and his family moved from Waco to Inglewood, California, and then to Garden Grove, California, when he was 10.

As a teenager, Martin sold guidebooks and performed magic tricks at Disneyland and at Knotts Berry Farm. He enrolled in Long Beach State College to study philosophy, but soon transferred to the theater program at the University of California, Los Angeles. He left college altogether to be a comedy writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967-68), winning an Emmy Award in 1969.

In the 1970s, Martin performed stand-up comedy in local clubs, wrote for The Sonny and Cher Show (1972-73) and had the first of his many appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Martin's big break came when he was guest host on NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1977. His offbeat and irreverent humor made him an instant celebrity.

This was a fertile time creatively for Martin, and he released four comedy albums between 1977 and 1981, winning Grammy Awards for Let's Get Small and A Wild and Crazy Guy. He also received a gold record for his hit comedy song "King Tut" and wrote his first book Cruel Shoes, in 1977.

Film Career

Steve Martin's first feature, a short film he wrote called The Absent-Minded Waiter (1977), was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1979, he starred in his first full-length feature film, The Jerk, the first of many collaborations between Martin and director Carl Reiner, including the lampoon of detective thrillers Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), the sci-fi comedy The Man With Two Brains (1983) and the identity-swapping comedy All of Me (1984) with Lily Tomlin. Martin received Best Actor awards from both the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review for his performance in All of Me. He also won rave reviews for his portrayal of a demented dentist in Frank Oz's Little Shop of Horrors (1986).

In 1987, Martin stretched his talent even further by co-writing, executive-producing and starring in Roxanne (1987), a modern interpretation of the story of Cyrano De Bergerac. For his work in Roxanne he won a Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association as well as an award for Best Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America. In 1991, Martin wrote, starred in and co-executive produced L.A. Story. He also starred in the Disney remake of Father of the Bride (1992) and its 1995 sequel.

In 1993, Martin had success as a playwright with Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which opened at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, moving to Boston and Los Angeles as well as running off-Broadway.

More recent work included David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner (1997), a voice role in the animated Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt (1998) and a co-starring role with Goldie Hawn in a remake of The Out of Towners (1999). Martin wrote and starred in the comedy Bowfinger with Eddie Murphy in 1999. In 2001, he starred opposite Helena Bonham Carter in the dark comedy Novocaine. That same year, he took on a new challenge, hosting the notoriously long Academy Awards ceremony. His trademark humor and antics earned him an invitation to return in 2003 and 2010.

In 2003, Martin starred opposite Queen Latifah in the romantic comedy Bringing Down the House, which debuted at a surprising No. 1 at the box office. In 2004, Martin costarred with Bonnie Hunt to reprise the 1950s comedy Cheaper by the Dozen. He then wrote and starred in another remake, 2006's Pink Panther, which performed well at the box office. In 2008, Martin appeared in the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama. The movie skyrocketed to No. 1 at the box office and grossed more than $17 million its first weekend.

For his body of work, Martin received an honorary Oscar in 2013.

Writing and Music Career

A frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine, Martin published Shopgirl, a novella, to great acclaim in 2001. (A collection of his New Yorker writings was published as Pure Drivel in 1998.) The story of a disenchanted saleswoman struggling to choose between a would-be musician and a wealthy married man, the book was adapted to film in 2005 starring Martin and Claire Danes. He followed that work with The Pleasure of My Company (2003), which also topped best-seller lists, and his autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life (2007).

When not busy writing or working on the big screen, Martin keeps busy with music. His collection of original banjo compositions, The Crow, was released to critical praise in 2009, and with it Martin took home the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year. Rare Bird Alert then appeared in 2011, and Love Has Come for You followed in 2013. Martin later collaborated with singer/songwriter Edie Brickell to bring to Broadway the production Bright Star, which later received a Tony nod for best musical, among other nods.  


Personal Life

In 1986, Martin married actress Victoria Tennant, his future co-star in L.A. Story (1991), but the couple divorced in 1994.

In the early 2000s, Martin began dating Anne Stringfield, a former staffer at The New Yorker. He and Stringfield wed in 2007 before 75 guests at a surprise ceremony, and in 2012 they welcomed their first child—a girl—marking Martin's entrance into fatherhood at age 67. 

An avid art collector, Martin is a trustee of the Los Angeles Museum of Art and owns works by O'Keeffe, Diebenkorn, de Kooning, Frankenthaler, Hopper, Hockney, Lichtenstein and Picasso, among others. He was honored with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2005. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in December 2007.

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