Publish date:
Updated on

Steve Martin born

On this day in 1945, the comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin, who would rise to fame as a “wild and crazy” comedian during the 1970s, is born in Waco, Texas.

Martin grew up in California and in his teens worked at Disneyland, where he entertained crowds with magic tricks and banjo music. After attending UCLA, he broke into show business as a comedy writer. In 1969, Martin won an Emmy for his writing on the hit TV comedy program The Smothers Brothers. He later wrote and appeared on other comedy-variety shows, including The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

Meanwhile, Martin began performing his own comedy at nightclubs and by the mid-1970s was appearing often on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, notably in the role of the “wild and crazy guy,” a wannabe playboy from Czechoslovakia. By the late 1970s, Martin was famous for his best-selling comedy records and shows, which included the hit song “King Tut” and the catchphrase “Excuuuuse me.”

Martin’s first starring role in a feature film came in the 1979 box-office hit The Jerk, which he co-wrote. He reteamed with his Jerk director, Carl Reiner, for three more zany comedies: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983) and All of Me (1984), co-starring Lily Tomlin. Throughout the rest of the 1980s, Martin showcased his comedic talents in a string of hits, including Three Amigos (1986), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Roxanne (1987), a modern adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, for which he won the Writer’s Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987).

The prematurely grey-haired Martin went from wild and crazy to parental (with equal success) in such films as Parenthood (1989), Father of the Bride (1991) and Cheaper by the Dozen (2003). He also went a more serious route, appearing in David Mamet’s enigmatic suspense film The Spanish Prisoner (1997). In 2005, Martin co-starred in Shopgirl, based on a novella of the same name that he penned. In that film, he played a wealthy businessman who romances a far younger woman, played by Claire Danes. Returning to broad comedy in 2006, Martin played the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther. Over the years, he has continued to appear periodically on Saturday Night Live and remains one of the show’s most frequent hosts.

In 2007, Martin published a memoir, Born Standing Up, which critics praised for its humor and candor. He had previously opened up to interviewers about his personal life, including his marriage to the actress Victoria Tennant, his co-star in All of Me (they married in 1986 and divorced in 1994) and his subsequent breakup with the actress Anne Heche. Martin married Anne Stringfield, a writer for The New Yorker magazine, which Martin has contributed to, in July 2007.


FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Russians settle Alaska

On Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founds Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. The European discovery of Alaska came in 1741, when a Russian expedition led by Danish navigator Vitus Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. more

Peking relieved by multinational force

During the Boxer Rebellion, an international force featuring British, Russian, American, Japanese, French, and German troops relieves the Chinese capital of Peking after fighting its way 80 miles from the port of Tientsin. The Chinese nationalists besieging Peking’s diplomatic more

Blackout hits Northeast United States

On this day in 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as more

Japan’s surrender made public

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people. Even though Japan’s War Council, urged by Emperor Hirohito, had already submitted a formal declaration of surrender to the Allies, via more

U.S. bombing of Cambodia ceases

After several days of intense bombing in support of Lon Nol’s forces fighting the communist Khmer Rouge in the area around Phnom Penh, Operations Arc Light and Freedom Deal end as the United States ceases bombing Cambodia at midnight. This was in accordance with June more

Seventh Marines land at Chu Lai

The advance units of the Seventh Marines land at Chu Lai, bringing U.S. Marine strength in South Vietnam to four regiments and four air groups. The Marines were given the responsibility of conducting operations in southern I Corps and northern II Corps, just south of the more

Hanoi prepares for more air attacks

Hanoi is reported to be holding air-raid drills for fear of more U.S. attacks in the wake of the Pierce Arrow retaliatory raids that had been flown in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The North Vietnamese government urged all civilians with nonessential posts to leave the more

Pitching ace throws first no-hitter

On August 14, 1971, St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson throws the first no-hitter of his storied career. Gibson’s heroics helped his team sail to an 11-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Gibson overcame numerous childhood ailments–including rickets, asthma and a heart more

FDR signs Social Security Act

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Social Security Act. Press photographers snapped pictures as FDR, flanked by ranking members of Congress, signed into law the historic act, which guaranteed an income for the unemployed and retirees. FDR more

Montana “Vigilante X” is born

John X. Beidler, one of the best known of the notoriously secretive Montana vigilantes, is born in Pennsylvania. Beidler, who preferred to be called simply “X,” had little formal education and tried his hand at a variety of trades. Initially a shoemaker, he also worked briefly as more

A daughter poisons her father

Francis Blandy falls into a coma and dies in his home outside London, England. Later that night, Blandy’s daughter Mary offered one of the family’s servants a large sum of money to help her get to France immediately. Mary was forced to flee on her own when he refused, but she was more

Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith begins an invasion of Kentucky as part of a Confederate plan to draw the Yankee army of General Don Carlos Buell away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to raise support for the Southern cause in Kentucky. Smith led 10,000 troops out of more