Friday, September 13, 2013
Martin got his start as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967 at age 22. By the time the mid-70s rolled around he had written for Pat Paulsen, Glen Campbell, Ken Berry, and Sonny & Cher. Known for his absurdist comedy routines, Martin still maintains that his success in stand-up was entirely accidental.
Martin’s big film break came in 1979 when he wrote and starred in The Jerk, which was directed by Carl Reiner. Martin would go on to make three more films with Reiner. Joining fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Chevy Chase and Martin Short, The Three Amigos premiered in 1986, but many may not know that the film was originally slated to be called The Three Caballeros and star Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi instead.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, my favorite of all Martin’s films, premiered in 1988 and was a smash success, co-starring Michael Caine. Even today the film still has an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. My second-favorite Martin film, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, premiered the year before and co-starred comedy legend John Candy.
Film is not the only area where Martin has distinguished himself. He first picked up a banjo at age 17 and would later receive two Grammy Awards for bluegrass recordings. Most recently he has been touring with the Steep Canyon Rangers and has appeared with them on shows like The Colbert Report, Conan, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Martin even narrated a PBS documentary called Give Me the Banjo about the history of the instrument.
All in all, the 68-year-old star is completely deserving of the Academy Honorary Award. Between the Emmys, Grammys, Mark Twain Award, and Kennedy Center Honor, the real question is whether he’ll have to move the sombrero off the shelf to clear a spot for it.