Steve Martin

Steve Martin Biography

Producer, Author (1945–)
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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.'

Who Is Steve Martin?

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. After starring in The Jerk in 1979, he followed with feature film hits like All of Me, Roxanne and Father of the Bride. Martin has also enjoyed success as an author and musician, garnering another Grammy in 2010 for his bluegrass compositions on The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo.

Early Life

Steve Martin was born on 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 Knotts Berry Farm. He enrolled at Long Beach State College to study philosophy, but soon transferred to the theater program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Early Comedy Career

Martin 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. In 1976, he hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live for the first of more than a dozen times, his offbeat and irreverent humor making 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.

Films

'The Jerk'

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.

'All of Me'

Martin and Reiner followed with the detective-thriller lampoon 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).

'Roxanne'

In 1987, Martin stretched his talent even further by co-writing, executive producing and starring in Roxanne, 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.

'Father of the Bride,' 'L.A. Story'

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

'The Out-of-Towners,' 'Bowfinger'

After appearing in David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner (1997), the actor provided voice work for the animated Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt (1998) and had a co-starring role with Goldie Hawn in a remake of The Out-of-Towners (1999). Martin then wrote and co-starred in the 1999 comedy Bowfinger, with Eddie Murphy, and appeared opposite Helena Bonham Carter in the 2001 dark comedy Novocaine.

Academy Awards Host

Also in 2001, Martin took on a new challenge as host of the notoriously long Academy Awards ceremony. His trademark humor and antics earned him an invitation to return in 2003 and 2010, and he later teamed up with Chris Rock to deliver opening jokes at the hostless 2020 ceremony.

'Bringing Down the House,' 'The Pink Panther'

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 joined Bonnie Hunt to reprise the 1950s comedy Cheaper by the Dozen. He then wrote and starred in another remake, 2006's The Pink Panther, which performed well at the box office.

'It's Complicated'

In 2008, Martin appeared in the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama, which skyrocketed to No. 1 at the box office and grossed more than $17 million its first weekend. After reprising the role of Inspector Clouseau for The Pink Panther 2 (2009), he joined Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin for the romantic comedy It's Complicated (2009), before teaming with Jack Black and Owen Wilson for the bird-watching comedy The Big Year (2011).

'Home,' 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'

His attention seemingly focused elsewhere, Martin disappeared from the big screen for a few years, before resurfacing in 2015 with voice work for the animated Home and the ensemble family comedy-drama Love the Coopers. He then made an appearance in the 2016 war drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

Books

'Shopgirl'

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, with Martin and Claire Danes in starring roles.

'Born Standing Up'

Martin followed that work with The Pleasure of My Company (2003), which also topped best-seller lists; the autobiography Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life (2007); and An Object of Beauty (2010), about a young woman's ambition to conquer the New York City art world.

Music

Grammy Win for 'The Crow'

When not busy writing or working on the big screen, Martin keeps busy with music. His collection of original banjo compositions, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, was released to critical praise in 2009, and with it Martin took home the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year.

'Love Has Come for You,' 'Bright Star'

Rare Bird Alert, a collaboration with Steep Canyon Rangers, earned its release in 2011, and Love Has Come for You, with Edie Brickell, followed in 2013. Martin and Brickell then teamed up to bring to Broadway the production of Bright Star, which earned a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination.

The duo released another album of original bluegrass material, So Familiar, in 2015, before Martin rejoined Steep Canyon Rangers to deliver The Long-Awaited Album in 2017.

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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 Georgia O'Keeffe, Richard Diebenkorn, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein and Picasso, among others.

Among his many accolades, Martin was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2005 and named a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2007. He also received an honorary Academy Award in 2013.

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