The Life and Career of Martin Short

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures
June 18th, 2012

The Life and Career of Martin Short

-- Canadian-American actor and comedian Martin Short was born on March 26, 1950, in Hamilton, Ontario. Short was the youngest of five children born to a corporate executive father and violinist mother. Short's father originally immigrated to Canada as stowaway from Ireland, while his mother was the concert master for the symphony orchestra in Hamilton. Both parents openly encouraged Short's creative interests. Unfortunately, Short experienced a number of tragedies during his young life, beginning at the age of 12 when his older brother was killed in a car accident. Five years later, his mother died of cancer. His father died of complications related to a stroke within two years of his mother's death. In 1972, Short graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in social work from McMaster University.

Although it was originally his intention to pursue a career as a social worker, Short quickly became interested in acting after he was cast in a theater production in Toronto. He was later cast in numerous other plays and television shows. Encouraged by friends to pursue comedy, Short joined an improvisation group in 1977. When the group produced a television show, "Second City Television," Short began to receive increased public notice. Also known as "SCTV," the show ran in Canada for several years. It later began to appear in the United States. Short was responsible for the development of several of the show's characters.

In 1979, Short landed a role in an American sitcom. The following year, Short appeared in the cast of "I'm a Big Girl Now." The sitcom also starred Danny Thomas. In 1984, Short made the move to "Saturday Night Live." At "SNL," Short continued to develop characters, one of which was a spin-off from "SCTV." That character, Ed Grimley, proved to be Short's most well-known character. During this time, Short also became well-known for his unique ability to impersonate celebrities, including Katharine Hepburn and Jerry Lewis. His work on "SNL" proved to be a significant springboard for Short's future film and TV career.

Along with his own comedy sketches and television series, Short has also had guest-starring roles on numerous shows, including "Law & Order," "Arrested Development," and "Weeds." In 2010, Short appeared in "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" as the voice of the Cat in the Hat. In 2011, he accepted a role on "How I Met Your Mother" for the show's seventh season.

Even though Short began to focus on film and TV work, he never truly left behind his early career on stage. In 1993, he resumed theater work when he accepted a leading role in the Broadway musical "The Goodbye Girl." He later received a Tony Award nomination for his role in the production. Short also held a leading role in the 1999 production "Little Me." He received a Tony Award as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance. Short's stage performance also includes a role in the critically acclaimed production of "The Producers." He has also appeared in a one-man show of his own, "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me." The production toured numerous cities in 2006. Since that time, he has continued to tour with the show under a number of different names, including "If I'd Saved, I Wouldn't Be Here," and "Stroke Me Lady Fame."

Throughout the mid-1980s, Short starred in a number of his own television series, including his first live concert. Short began to focus on a film career after performing comedy sketches for a number of years. His film credits include "The Big Picture," "Clifford," "Innerspace," Mars Attacks!," and "Captain Ron." In addition, Short also appeared in the 1991 "Father of the Bride" remake as well as the film's sequel.

Short has the distinction of having two stars on the Walk of Fame in Canada. He has stated that he has plans to write a memoir covering his 40 year show business career. Short has also recently worked on a new TV comedy special in Toronto. Titled "I, Martin Short, Goes Home," the special follows short upon his return to his hometown. Short has also been cast as the character Stefano in the upcoming film "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted."

In 1972, Short met his wife, fellow actress Nancy Dolman. They married eight years later. Nancy died in 2010 from ovarian cancer. The couple had three children together: one daughter and two sons. Short and his family currently live in Pacific Palisades, California. Short, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, also maintains a home in Ontario.