Martin, Steve

Martin, Steve, 1945–, American comedian, actor, and writer, b. Waco, Tex. An Emmy-winning television comedy writer in the late 1960s for the Smothers Brothers, he began performing stand-up comedy in the early 70s and became a recurrent host on Saturday Night Live beginning in the late 70s. His catchphrases, e.g., “I'm a wild and crazy guy,”and his characters, e.g., a hopelessly gauche Eastern European swinger, became instant classics. He also recorded several comedy albums, two of them Grammy winners, and starred in TV specials. He scored a novelty hit with the single "King Tut" in 1978, which sold over a million copies. Turning to films, Martin starred in and wrote The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983), Roxanne (1987), and Bowfinger (1999). He also starred in the dark musical comedy Pennies from Heaven (1981), the comedies All of Me (1984) and Little Shop of Horrors (1986), the drama Grand Canyon (1991), David Mamet's dark The Spanish Prisoner (1998), and the thriller Novocaine (2001). Martin has written humorous pieces, plays (including the musical, Bright Star, 2013, cowritten with singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, which ran briefly on Broadway in 2016; and the comedy Meteor Shower in 2017), novellas (including Shopgirl, 2000; he also wrote and starred in the 2005 film), and a novel, An Object of Beauty (2010). An accomplished banjo player as well, he has won two Grammys for his bluegrass recordings and has established an annual prize for the best up-and-coming player of this instrument.

See his memoir, Born Standing Up (2007); collections Cruel Shoes (1977), Pure Drivel (1998).

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