Martin Hayter Short,
CM (born March 26, 1950) is a Canadian actor, comedian, writer, singer and producer. He is best known for his comedy work, particularly on the TV programs SCTV and Saturday Night Live. He starred in such comedic films as Three Amigos, Innerspace, Pure Luck, Jungle 2 Jungle, Mars Attacks!, Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II.
Short, the youngest of five children, was born in Hamilton, Ontario, the son of Olive (née Hayter), a violinist, and Charles Patrick Short, a corporate executive with Stelco, a Canadian steel company. He and his siblings were raised Catholic. He had three older brothers, David (now deceased), Michael, and Brian, and one older sister, Nora.
Short’s father was a Catholic from Crossmaglen, South Armagh (present-day Northern Ireland), who came to North America as a stowaway during the Irish War of Independence. Short’s mother, who was the concertmaster of the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra, encouraged Martin’s early creative endeavours. His eldest brother, David, was killed in a car accident in 1962, when Short was 12. His mother died of cancer when he was 17; and, two years later in 1969, his father died of complications from a stroke.
Short was encouraged to pursue comedy by McMaster classmates Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas, whom he joined at improv troupe The Second City in Toronto in 1977. Short came to public notice when the troupe produced a show for television, Second City Television or SCTV, which ran for several years in Canada, then the United States. At SCTV Short developed several characters before moving on to Saturday Night Live for the 1984–1985 season:
At SNL, Short helped revive the show with his many characters after Eddie Murphy left. Short’s SNL characters included Wheel of Fortune fan Ed Grimley, which he borrowed from his SCTV days. The Grimley character became Short’s best-known original character. He also was recognized for his impersonations of celebrities, notably Jerry Lewis and Katharine Hepburn, and for the character of Nathan Thurm. SNL proved to be the springboard to a long career in film and TV.
In addition to his revered work on SCTV and SNL, Short has starred in several television specials and series of his own. In 1985, Short starred in the one-hour Showtime special, Martin Short: Concert for the North Americas. This is Short’s first live concert, interspersed with studio sketches and a wraparound featuring Jackie Rogers Jr. Co-produced by the CBC, this aired as The Martin Short Comedy Special in Canada in March 1986. In 1989, Short headlined another one-hour comedy special, this time for HBO, I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood, Short’s classic send-up of all things Hollywood. It featured many of his characters including: Lawrence Orbach, Ed Grimley, Jackie Rogers Jr, Bradley P. Allen, Troy Soren, and Dale O’Day (the dancing fence); released on VHS, it is now out of print.
Short has had no fewer than three shows called The Martin Short Show, including a sitcom (The Martin Short Show, 1994), a sketch comedy show (The Show Formerly Known as the Martin Short Show, 1995), and a syndicated talk show (The Martin Short Show, 1999). Short starred as Jiminy Glick on Comedy Central’s Primetime Glick (2001–03). In addition to his own series, Short has guest starred on several shows including Arrested Development, Muppets Tonight, Law & Order: SVU, Weeds and most recently in a critically acclaimed turn as Leonard Winstone on FX’s Damages. As of August 2010, Short is the voice of the Cat in the Hat in The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! on the Public Broadcasting Service.
Short recently shot a new comedy special for television in Toronto (in September 2011). The special, “I, Martin Short, Goes Home” follows Martin’s return to his native Hamilton, Ontario and has a cast that includes Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty and Fred Willard. The special is set to air on CBC television on April 3rd, 2012 at 9:00pm EDT.
After doing sketch comedy for several years, Short focused on film—appearing in ¡Three Amigos!, Innerspace, The Big Picture, Captain Ron, Clifford, and the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride and its sequel. In 1996, he appeared in Tim Burton's sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks! as image-obsessed, hormonally driven Press Secretary Jerry Ross.
In 2004, he wrote and starred in Jiminy Glick in Lalawood with Jan Hooks as his wife, Dixie Glick. Also in 1997, he appeared as Wall Street broker Richard Kempster in Jungle 2 Jungle alongside Tim Allen. In 2006, he starred in another movie with Tim Allen, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Short was in Pure Luck, directed by Nadia Tass, with Danny Glover and Sheila Kelley and in Three Fugitives, directed by Francis Veber, with Nick Nolte and James Earl Jones. Short also provided the voices of several animated film characters, such as Huy in The Prince of Egypt (alongside Steve Martin as Hotep), Stubbs in We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, Hubie in The Pebble and the Penguin, B.E.N. in Treasure Planet, Ooblar in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Thimbletack the Brownie in The Spiderwick Chronicles.
He is was cast as Stefano the sea lion in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
Short resumed work in the theater, playing a lead role in the 1993 musical version of the Neil Simon film The Goodbye Girl, on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination and an Outer Critics Circle Award.
In 2003, Short took to the stage once again in the critically acclaimed Los Angeles run of The Producers. Short played the role of the accountant, Leo Bloom, opposite Jason Alexander’s Max Bialystock. Although the role of Leo Bloom was originated on Broadway by Matthew Broderick, Mel Brooks first approached Short about doing the part opposite Nathan Lane. On the subject, Short has stated in numerous interviews that, while he was thrilled by the opportunity, the idea of having to move his family from their Los Angeles home to New York for a year was less than ideal and ultimately proved a deal-breaker.
Short performed in his satirical one-man show, with a cast of six, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. The show toured several cities in the spring of 2006, prior to opening on Broadway in August 2006; the show closed in January 2007. In it, he performed his classic characters Grimley, Cohen, and Glick.
As Glick, Short brought a member of the audience (usually a celebrity) on stage and interviewed him or her. Jerry Seinfeld was the guest on opening night. The show also featured parodies of many celebrities including Celine Dion, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Tommy Tune, Joan Rivers, Britney Spears, Ellen DeGeneres, Renée Zellweger, Jodie Foster, Rachel Ray, and Short’s wife, actress Nancy Dolman. The cast album was released on April 10, 2007, and is available from Ghostlight Records, an imprint of Sh-K-Boom Records.
Short has continued to tour in his one-man show, which features many of his best-loved characters and sketches. In addition to Fame Becomes Me, some of the titles Short has used for his one-man show include Stroke Me Lady Fame, If I’d Saved, I Wouldn’t Be Here, and, in more conservative markets, Sunday in the Park with George Michael. Short revealed in March 2011 that he plans to write a memoir, covering his 40 year career in show business.