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Steve Martin

Biography

Steve Martin's first taste of comedy occurred while he was working at the Magic Shop on Main Street, USA in Disneyland. It was there that Martin learned magic tricks, juggling and how to make balloon animals -- physical comedy skills he would later bring to his stand-up routine. When he left college at California State University at Long Beach, where he was studying for a degree in philosophy, Steve found work writing skits for some of the more popular variety shows on television including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Sonny and Cher Show and The Glen Campbell Hour. But by the start of the 1970s, that was all behind him. Martin was living in Canada and appearing semi-regularly on the television show, Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour while trying out his stand-up routine for the first time in the clubs around Toronto. Martin's philosophy background and long, scraggly hair instantly identified him with the counterculture movement of the time before long he started opening up for rock bands like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Carpenters. Then a strange thing started to happen: Steve Martin's hair began turning gray! Over the next few years, Martin tailored his routine to reflect his changing looks. Almost overnight he had physically transformed himself into a short-haired conservative-looking gentleman, which was a perfect foil for his zany humor. Without question, Steve Martin's big break came in 1975, when he hosted a number of Saturday Night Live shows. Contrary to popular belief, Martin was never a cast member of the show; his many appearances on the show just made him feel like one. His exposure on that show, along with memorable appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson created quite a demand for his live stand-up shows. Capitalizing on this, the comedian released a comedy album in 1977. Let's Get Small was a phenomenal success and spawning the catchphrase, "Well, excuse me!" The following year, Martin released Wild and Crazy Guy, which crossed over from comedy circles to mainstream when the song "King Tut" became a hit on Top 40 radio. Although he released two more comedy albums, Martin's interest in the medium was dwindling. It was about this time that he wrote and starred in the short film, The Absent-Minded Waiter. The seven-minute long short actually got nominated for an Academy Award and before you could say, "Excuuuuse me," Steve Martin's movie career was born. In 1978, Martin made a cameo appearance in the film, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and quickly followed with his first starring role in the self-penned, The Jerk. Martin's box office-pleasing performance led to plenty of other roles, but it wasn't until 1987's Roxanne that he finally started to get serious recognition for his acting ability. Throughout the years, Steve Martin was written a number of best-selling books and has contributed to numerous magazines. In addition, Martin, who is an avid modern art collector, sits on the board of trustees for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2005, he pledged one million dollars over a five year period to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California to be used for the museum's art collection.
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