Steve Martin Biography (1945-)

Steve Martin, , , playwright and . 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, he 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.

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.

Martin 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.” Martin wrote his first book Cruel Shoes, in 1977.

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 co-starring actress Victoria Tennant, whom he later married, in 1986 (they later divorced in 1994). Martin also starred in the Disney remake of Father of the Bride (1992), and it’s sequel in 1995.

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.

A frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine, Martin published Shopgirl, a novella, to great acclaim in 2001. 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. In 2001, Martin starred opposite Queen Latifah in the romantic comedy Bringing Down the House, which debuted at a surprising No. 1 at the box offfice. In 2004, Martin costarred with Bonnie Hunt to reprise the 1950s comedy Cheaper by the Dozen. He then took on another remake in 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. He followed up the success of the film by stepping behind the camera again for Traitor (2008) as the writer and producer. Martin’s most recent works are two sequels to two of his family-friendly films: The Pink Panther 2 (2009) and Cheaper by the Dozen 3 (slated to hit theatres in 2011).

On July 28, 2007, Steve Martin married Anne Stringfield (born 1973). Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live was his best man. The wedding was a surprise to the nearly 75 guests, who were told they were invited to a party.

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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