It was on this day in 1994 that Hamilton-born SCTV veteran Martin Short premieres his comedy variety program, The Martin Short Show, on NBC, in Hollywood, California.
Last year, Short gave Canada’s numismatic community a big boost when he teamed up with the Royal Canadian Mint on the $3 fine silver collector coin, which features his summer home in Ontario’s Muskoka district.
The comic legend consulted with Canadian artist Tony Bianco on the design of the Martin Short Presents Canada coin.
The coin also depicts the Canadian flag waving from a marine-inspired flag pole standing on one of the region’s signature whaleback rocks.
Martin Hayter Short was born on March 26, 1950. Known for his wacky characters and dead-on impressions, Martin Short was a born entertainer, aspiring to have his own variety show at an early age. Up in his bedroom, Short would record a show of his own making, which featured songs and interviews. “I wanted to be Frank Sinatra; I thought being Frank was cool,” Short told People magazine as reported on biography.com.
His family was supportive of his creative efforts and his siblings often joined in the fun. “Being the youngest of five, you’re adored, you’re fueled with confidence.” Short told TIME magazine. His mother, Olive, was a violinist and concert master for the Hamilton Symphony, and she offered her son constructive feedback on his singing. His business executive father, Charles, was also unfazed by his son’s activities. “Absurdity and eccentricity were not criticized,” Short told reporters.
But Short’s seemingly idyllic life was not without personal hardship. His oldest brother died in a car accident when Short was only 12 years old. His mother then fought a long battle against cancer, during which Short and rest of his family worked hard to keep her spirits up. Sadly, she died when Short was 18. He suffered another loss a few years later, when his father passed away after a stroke. Despite these great losses, however, Short remained upbeat and positive. “I never looked at it as if it was a tragedy—that I didn’t have them my whole life … our whole family took the attitude that if you have wonderful moments, don’t second-guess them, just enjoy them,” he said.
At McMaster University, Short studied for a degree in social work. He also began exploring his interest in performing during his last year of school. Auditioning for a 1972 production of Godspell, Short was surprised to land a role. “I couldn’t believe it. I’d been in show business for about an hour and suddenly I had a job,” he said. It was during the run of the show that Short became acquainted with fellow cast member Nancy Dolman, and the two began dating.
After Godspell, Short worked on a number of stage productions and television programs in Toronto. He served as the host of a weekly Canadian music show, Right On (1972), before joining the Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe. Before long, Short moved to New York where he landed a role on the short-lived sitcom The Associates in 1979.
Soon after the show was canceled in 1980, Short endured another sitcom flop—I’m a Big Girl Now (1980) with Danny Thomas and Diana Canova—before landing his first big break. He joined the cast of the popular late night comedy show SCTV, which featured the likes of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas among others. For three years, Short delighted audiences with such characters as lounge singer Jackie Rogers, Jr.; songwriter Irving Cohen; and easily excitable oddball Ed Grimley. He also imitated such well-known personalities as Dustin Hoffman and comic legend Jerry Lewis.
Branching out into feature films, Short starred in the buddy comedy Three Amigos (1986) with Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. He found some success with the science fiction comedy Innerspace (1987) with Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. Then in 1991, Short had a supporting role in the remake Father of the Bride, starring Steve Martin as the title character. His turn as a quirky wedding planner was well received, but Short was unable to become a big box office draw.
Last year, Short teamed up with the Royal Canadian Mint on the $3 fine silver collector coin, which features his summer home in Ontario’s