Steve Martin

Steve Martin Headshot

Actor • Comedian • Writer • Producer • Composer • Musician • Juggler

Birth Name: Stephen Glenn Martin

Birth Date: August 14, 1945

Age: 78 years old

Birth Place: Waco, Texas

Spouses: Victoria Tennant

Partners: Bernadette Peters, Anne Heche

Steve Martin was never interested in finding just one niche and remaining there for his entire life, as evidenced by his career evolution from TV writer to goofy stand-up comic to A-List star of offbeat comedies, family fare, dramas, and musicals. His early, rock-star-like fame as a comedian influenced a whole generation of performers with its experimental, no-punch-line style that sent-up vaudeville as much as it borrowed from his studies as a philosophy major. As a film actor, Martin's strongest work was generally material he wrote himself - comedies with a palpable heart and poignancy behind the puns, like "Roxanne" (1987), L.A. Story (1991), and the adaptation of his bestselling novella, "Shopgirl" (2005).

Despite the iconic status of his 1979 comedy classic, "The Jerk," his film career was spotty. However, through the 1990s and beyond, Martin was mainly known for rote family comedies that relied not on "wild and crazy" antics but on his roles as the straight man exasperated over the wild and crazy antics of kids or unwelcome intruders in his quiet suburban world. Off-screen, enigmatic Martin had a reputation as a spotlight-shunning, quiet intellectual and fine art collector who, well into his sixties, was still full of surprises on the screen, the stage, and on the page.

Martin was born on Aug. 14, 1945, in Waco, TX. When he was five years old his mother and real estate agent father - himself, a failed actor - moved the family to Southern California. Five years later, they were living in Garden Grove when Disneyland opened, and 10-year-old Martin found himself neighboring "the happiest place on earth." He was given a striped shirt and straw hat and hired to wander the park selling programs. In addition to the two cents he made per program, he also had free access to the park. Even though he was painfully shy and could not yet imagine performing in front of people, he spent even his off-duty hours there, watching and learning from park performers who juggled, played music, and did vaudeville acts. He spent so much time in the park's magic shop, Merlin's Cave, that he began working there when he was just 13.

From demonstrating magic tricks and making balloon animals for the customers, he went on to get professional gigs as a magician for community groups like the Boy Scouts and Elks Lodge. The professional attitude the teenager took towards his work was remarkable, as he kept copious notes and recordings of his early performances, critiquing them and tweaking them in his drive to perfect his act. After graduating from Garden Grove High School in 1963, Martin studied drama and poetry at a community college, while writing and appearing in comedy skits at nearby Knott's Berry Farm amusement park and doing stand-up comedy at local coffeehouses. Steve Martin's academic shift to philosophy led him to Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA, eventually landing a job as a writer for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." He and the writing staff won an Emmy Award in 1969, and Martin continued to write and occasionally appear in comedy bits on variety shows like "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" (CBS, 1971-74) and "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (CBS, 1969-1972).

With his philosophy studies still haunting him, Martin experimented with new approaches to his own comedy act. With the same focus and diligence with which he had learned magic tricks at Disneyland and taught himself to play the banjo, he now analyzed what made people laugh and sought to create a stage show that would be funny in an entirely nontraditional way. The result was part vaudeville/part performance art - a juggling banjo player who confidently tossed around absurd non-sequiturs while dressed in a three-piece white suit like some square visitor from an alternate universe. He found a receptive audience to his experimental act in places like San Francisco, but he also toughed it out for years on the stand-up circuit playing to empty rooms in small towns.

The philosophical performer continually analyzed and adjusted his act, unknowingly ushering in a new era of post-modern comedy. He got bigger gigs, opening for rock concerts, and in time, his appearances on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1954- ) and the fledgling "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) began to bring him unexpected fame.

After many memorable performances as a "wild and crazy" Festrunk brother on "Saturday Night Live," Martin released a live comedy album, Let's Get Small (1977) and his fame skyrocketed. The platinum-seller and Grammy winner for Best Comedy Album gave birth to catchphrases like "Well, excuuuse me!" and Martin sold out larger and larger venues until he was filling stadiums. By 1978, Martin had become a certified pop culture phenomenon with his arrow-through-the-head persona, releasing a follow-up Grammy-winning album, A Wild and Crazy Guy, and a music single "King Tut," which hilariously celebrated the ancient boy king whose remains were hot on the museum circuit that year. Martin also made a cameo in the celebrated "Muppet Movie" (1979) and wrote and starred in "The Jerk" (1979), an expectedly absurdist rags-to-riches-back-to-rags tale of a hapless dimwit who leaves his poor black family and stumbles into a world of wealth and fame.

The film was an instant classic, and also netted the era's hottest star a romantic relationship with cute ukulele-playing co-star, Bernadette Peters. He toured continually and hosted a pair of comedy specials on NBC in 1980, but the following year, at the height of his fame, Martin abruptly quit stand-up. As he saw it, his was a conceptual act, so there was no need to keep showing audiences the same thing over and over. He had made his point and he was ready to move on to a film career.

Martin's follow-up to "The Jerk" threw audiences for a loop, though he proved a capable dramatic player in the off-beat, revisionist musical drama, "Pennies From Heaven" (1981). He stuck close to nontraditional comedy, and in the first of many collaborations with Carl Reiner, Martin pulled off the difficult task of acting opposite clips from classic 1940s films in the film noir send-up, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" (1983). His role as a doctor who falls in love with a brain in a jar in "The Man with Two Brains" (1983) pleased fans, and Martin went on to give one of his most outstanding performances in Reiner's "All of Me" (1984), in which his physical comedy was a perfect fit for a character who is half-possessed on his body's right side only by a deceased, crotchety millionairess (Lily Tomlin).

The 1985 romantic comedy "The Lonely Guy" was a flop, but ironically the next year, the long-time bachelor was wed to British actress and "All of Me" co-star, Victoria Tennant. The following year, Martin co-wrote the successful buddy comedy "Three Amigos!" (1986) and joined Chevy Chase and Martin Short on horseback with amusing results. Martin played a sadistic dentist in the well-received screen adaptation of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) and dialed back the zany energy to give a surprisingly touching and graceful performance in "Roxanne" (1987), a modern-day comic revamp of "Cyrano de Bergerac" which Martin also wrote and executive-produced.

In one of the best-loved films of both their careers, Martin played alongside a surprisingly touching John Candy in John Hughes' holiday classic, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987). Martin was the straight man of two mismatched travelers whose Thanksgiving plans are endlessly ill-fated, resulting in three intolerable days together. Co-star chemistry was again at the center of the successful "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988), in which Martin and Michael Caine made for a deliciously deviant team of con artists. Martin maintained a reserved, high-strung persona to portray the father of a young family in "Parenthood" (1989), a huge box office hit beloved for its balance of comedy and heart.

In 1991, Martin wrote, produced, and starred in "L.A. Story," which was well received as much for its insightful romantic comedy script as for its successful capturing of the essence of certain L.A. character types and lifestyles. Martin returned to drama, playing a film producer in Lawrence Kasdan's ensemble "Grand Canyon" (1991), but went on to spend the majority of the 1990s in box office comedy successes that were disappointingly predictable for an actor whose early work was so exuberant and off-kilter. The first of these lackluster broad comedies were Disney's remake of "Father of the Bride" (1991) and "Housesitter" (1992), where he played an uptight architect whose life is disrupted by a female grifter (Goldie Hawn).

Light on his feet, if ultimately joyless and opaque, Martin played a charlatan faith healer in the moderately successful drama, "Leap of Faith" (1992). The following year, Martin - who was known off-screen as an intellectually-inclined art collector - made his playwriting debut with "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a comic fantasy about a meeting between the celebrated painter and Albert Einstein in 1904 before both achieved worldwide fame. The play premiered in Chicago and went on to become a hit in Los Angeles and off-Broadway. "WASP and Other Plays" followed at New York's Public Theater and further confirmed Martin's broad talent. Back in Hollywood, Martin returned to Disney's Touchstone division as executive producer and scripter of "A Simple Twist of Fate" (1994), a polished yet problematic adaptation of George Eliot's "Silas Marner." He was effective as a gloomy recluse who reconnects with life by raising an abandoned infant, but audiences detected a downer and steered clear.

Off-screen, Martin was feeling a bit down himself, when he and wife Tennant divorced in 1994 after a decade of marriage, though he rebounded with a two-year relationship with considerably younger actress, Anne Heche. In 1995, Martin returned to successful if unremarkable comedy with the sequel "Father of the Bride II" and "Mixed Nuts," a tiresome holiday offering that flopped, despite an all-star cast and a script and direction from romantic comedy gold-spinner, Nora Ephron.

After the forgettable effort "Sgt. Bilko" (1996), Martin delivered a strong supporting turn as a mysterious businessman in David Mamet's psychological drama, "The Spanish Prisoner" (1997). He lent his voice to the wily servant Hotep in DreamWorks' animated Moses musical "The Prince of Egypt" (1998), and finally revisited his sorely missed "zany" persona in "Bowfinger" (1999), a successful Hollywood satire where Martin (who also penned the script) played a producer alongside co-star Eddie Murphy as an action film hero. Martin enjoyed further critical kudos that year for his book Pure Drivel, a collection of humor pieces he had previously published in The New Yorker magazine.

A lackluster remake of the 1960s screwball classic "The Out-of-Towners" (1999), however, missed the mark and Martin detoured into new territory with director Stanley Tucci's serious-minded "J Gould's Secret" (2000), as well as the dramatic thriller, "Novocaine" (2001), where he played a dentist suspected of murdering a patient. Martin's first novella, Shopgirl, about a depressed glove saleswoman at a Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus, was released that year and became a bestseller. In a semi-return to stand-up, Martin was cheered for taking over hosting duties of the Academy Awards ceremonies in 2001 and 2003.

In an intentionally unexpected pairing that delivered mega box office returns, Martin co-starred opposite rapper-turned-actress Queen Latifah in "Bringing Down The House" (2003), a contrived "opposites comedy" about a lonely attorney who looks for love on the Internet and finds an escaped convict who wreaks havoc on his life. There were more genuine laughs to be had with "Looney Tunes: Back In Action" (2003) - a live-action/animation mix starring the Warner Bros. cast of cartoon icons and Martin, throwing off his well-worn uptight act and cutting loose as the villainous Chairman of the Acme Corporation. He further banked on family fare, reprising his "exasperated suburban dad" in the remake of "Cheaper By the Dozen" (2003), an enormous box office hit that held little interest for critics.

Conversely, Martin's screen adaptation of "Shop Girl" (2005) only received limited release but garnered resoundingly positive reviews for its smart, subtle, and sometimes painfully honest portrayal of a May-December romance. Martin reprised his role as an overburdened parent in the sequel "Cheaper By the Dozen 2" (2005) and then seemed like a safe bet to take on the iconic role of the classic Peter Sellers character, Inspector Clouseau, in "The Pink Panther" (2006) reimagining. Audiences anticipated Martin's return to more physical comedy, but even the actor's valiant efforts on-screen were not enough to salvage the bad script.

In 2007, Martin released the heartfelt memoir Born Standing Up, a well-reviewed chronicle of his early years in show business, and followed it up with the children's book, The Alphabet From A to Y with the Bonus Letter Z, which was illustrated by fellow New Yorker contributor Roz Chast. He also took the plunge again, wedding longtime girlfriend (and former New Yorker staffer) Anne Stringfield before returning to the screen with a supporting role in the unexpected summer comedy hit "Baby Mama" (2008). The following year, Martin reprised his take on the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in "The Pink Panther 2" (2009), a box office dud that threatened to undermine a third installment to the series.

Meanwhile, he was in fine form as an agoraphobic millionaire who tries to woo Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on an episode of the critical darling, "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-13). The role earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2009. Martin's connection to the show did not end there. Perhaps due in part to their onscreen chemistry, Martin and "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin were announced as co-hosts of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards - an announcement that sent ripples of excitement through the public and industry at large.

Credits

Steve! (Martin) a Documentary in 2 PiecesStream

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2024
90%

Happy the Hoglet

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2022

One Killer Question

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2022

The 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors

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CBS Mornings

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2021

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The Red Nose Day Special

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Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Minds Of: Vol. 2

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Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

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Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

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Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

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Interview

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Vermeer, Beyond Time

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Steve Martin: On the Water

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Steve Martin: Santa Fe

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Steve Martin: Strangest Christmas Yet

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David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize

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Oh, Hello on Broadway

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Today's Take

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Maya & Marty

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

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Celebrated

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Home

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2015

Love the CoopersStream

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2015
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Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Single Shots

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2014

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

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2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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2014

Comedy College

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2014

The Queen Latifah Show

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2013

Baby Mama

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Live! With Kelly and Michael

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Live! With Kelly and Michael

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Comedians in Cars Getting CoffeeStream

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The 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards

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Inside Comedy

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Give Me the Banjo

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Rock Center With Brian Williams

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The Making Of: The Big Year

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A Capitol Fourth 2011

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The Big Year

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Tina Fey: The Mark Twain Prize

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ConanStream

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ConanStream

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The 82nd Annual Academy Awards

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ES.TV

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Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition

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etalk

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2001
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1999
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The View

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Nichols and May: Take Two

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Late Show With David Letterman

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The Brother
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1993
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Fais comme chez toi

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HousesitterStream

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1992
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1992
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Harris K. Telemacher
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1991
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1991
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Father of the BrideStream

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George Stanley Banks
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1991
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1991
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1990

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Vincent 'Vinnie' Antonelli
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1990
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The SimpsonsStream

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Ray Patterson
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1989
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ParenthoodStream

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Gil Buckman
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1989
92%

Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsStream

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Freddy Benson
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The Tracey Ullman Show

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RoxanneStream

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1987
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RoxanneStream

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1987
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Planes, Trains & AutomobilesStream

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Neal Page
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1987
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Leo and Liz in Beverly Hills

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Orin Scrivello, D.D.S.
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1986
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Three Amigos!Stream

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Lucky Day
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Three Amigos!Stream

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Three Amigos!Stream

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The 10th Anniversary Johnny Cash Christmas Special

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1985

Homage to Steve

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Homage to Steve

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Homage to Steve

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Domestic Life

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1984

The Lonely Guy

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Larry Hubbard
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All of MeStream

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Roger Cobb
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1984
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The Man with Two BrainsStream

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Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr
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1983
79%

The Man with Two BrainsStream

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1983
79%

Dead Men Don't Wear PlaidStream

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Rigby Reardon
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1982

Pennies from HeavenStream

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Arthur
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1981
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Steve Martin: All Commercials...A Steve Martin Special

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1980

The Funnier Side of Eastern Canada

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1979

60 Minutes

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CBS News Sunday MorningStream

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1979

Los Chavos Están Bien

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1979

The JerkStream

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1979
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Los Muchachos Están Bien

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1979

The Kids Are Alright

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1979

Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1978

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1978

Steve Martin: A Wild and Crazy GuyStream

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Stand-up
1978

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandStream

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Dr. Maxwell Edison
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1978
11%

On Location: Steve Martin

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1976

On Location: Steve Martin

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1976

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1976

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1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

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1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

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1975

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1975

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1975

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Franchise
1972

The Dick Cavett ShowStream

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1968

The Carol Burnett ShowStream

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1967

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

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1962

Today

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1952

Today

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1952

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Steve Martin

Steve Martin Documentary Set at Apple

Abbott Elementary, Mandy Moore, I Love Lucy

2022 TCA Award Winners: ‘Abbott Elementary,’ Mandy Moore, ‘I Love Lucy’ & More

Best Lines of the Week (July 29-August 4): ‘You Need to Uno Reverse Card This’

Paul Walter Hauser as Larry and Taron Egerton as Jimmy in Black Bird

Best Lines of the Week (July 22-28): ‘If You Think You Could Be in Danger, You Are in Danger’

Tuca and Bertie in 'Tuca & Bertie'

Best Lines of the Week (July 15-21): ‘It’s Only 9 p.m., the 9 a.m. of Nights’

Joel Kinnaman as Ed in For All Mankind

Best Lines of the Week (July 8-14): ‘From Now on, I’m Calling the Shots’

Only Murders In The Building
Preview

‘Only Murders in the Building’: Trio’s ‘Connection Gets Tested Big Time’ in Season 2

Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building
Review

Roush Review: More ‘Murders in the Building,’ More Fun

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, Martin Short

‘Only Murders in the Building’: Charles, Mabel & Oliver Are Being Framed in Season 2 First Look (VIDEO)

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, Martin Short

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Reveals Characters Old & New in Season 2 Teaser (VIDEO)

Only Murders in the Building, Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Sets a Summer Premiere for Season 2 at Hulu

Andrea Martin

‘Only Murders in the Building’: Andrea Martin Joins Series for Season 2 (PHOTO)

Oscars 2022 host

Who Should Host the 2022 Oscars? Ranking the Rumored Contenders (POLL)

Super Bob Einstein Movie HBO

‘The Super Bob Einstein Movie’ Pays Tribute to Late Comedian in First Look (VIDEO)

Sam Buttrey on Jeopardy and Steve Martin

‘Jeopardy!’ Viewers Think This Contestant Is the Spitting Image of Steve Martin

2021 CFDA Fashion Awards - Cara Delevingne

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Is Filming Season 2, Adds Cara Delevingne to the Cast

'Only Murders in the Building,' Season 1 Finale, Season 2 Predictions, Martin Short as Oliver, Selena Gomez as Mabel, Steve Martin as Charles

3 ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Finale Moments That Will Play Into Season 2

Only Murders in the Building Season 1 Steve Martin
Spoiler Alert

‘Only Murders in the Building’: What Did You Think of the Ending? (POLL)

'Only Murders in the Building,' Amy Ryan as Jan

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Theory: Did Jan Kill Tim Kono?

'Only Murders in the Building,' Steve Martin as Charles, Martin Short as Oliver

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Theory: Who Was the Body in Episode 1?

Only Murders in the Building The Boy From 6B

Can’t Miss Episode of the Week: ‘Only Murders in the Building’s Non-Verbal Episode

Only Murders in the Building Selena Gomez Episode 6
Exclusive

‘Only Murders in the Building’: New Evidence Comes to Light in Sneak Peek (VIDEO)

Only Murders in the Building Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez
Spoiler Alert

‘Only Murders in the Building’: Who Really Killed Tim Kono? (POLL)

Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building
Review

Roush Review: Three Amigos Investigate Merry ‘Murders in the Building’

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, Martin Short in Only Murders in the Building
Fall Preview

How ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Landed Its Stellar Guest Stars

Only Murders in the Building Selena Gomez Martin Short Steve Martin

Hulu Unveils a New ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Trailer & Key Art (VIDEO)

The Only Murders in the Building Selena Gomez Steve Martin Martin Short

‘Only Murders in the Building’: Steve Martin, Selena Gomez & Martin Short Team Up in First Look (PHOTOS)

Only Murders in the Bulding - Steve Martin and Martin Short

Hulu Unveils First Looks at ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ & ‘Only Murders in the Building’ (VIDEO)

Farrah Fawcett

Can the New ‘Celebrity Dating Game’ One Up the Original’s (Now) Famous Guest Stars?

Father of the Bride - Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams Paisley

‘Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish)’ Trailer: The Banks Family Returns on Netflix (VIDEO)

Hulu Casting New Series

Selena Gomez in Steve Martin & Martin Short’s Comedy, Elle Fanning’s New Series & More From Hulu

Dean Norris Better Call Saul Jared Padalecki Walker Reboot
Preview

A ‘Breaking Bad’ Return, ‘Supernatural’ Star’s New Role & More to Look Out For on TV

Untitled design (4)

Hulu Orders Steve Martin & Martin Short Comedy, Renews ‘Dollface’ & ‘Wu-Tang’ & More

Adam Sandler standup on Netflix

Adam Sandler’s ‘100% Fresh’ & 5 More Must-See Netflix Stand-Up Specials

Father of the Bride, Steve Martin, 1991

What’s Worth Watching: ‘A Tribute to Steve Martin’ on TCM for Thursday, July 30