Steve Martin has been named recipient of the highly prestigious AFI Life Achievement Award to be presented June 4th and aired on TNT and later on sister network TCM. After generally reserving this coveted prize to actors and directors who made their mark in dramatic films this is second time in the past three years that the American Film Institute has decided to lighten things up by giving their award to a person who made their mark in comedy. And it has paid off. Mel Brooks got the honor in 2013 and it resulted not only in a hilarious and memorable evening, it got higher ratings and brought the AFI special its first Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special in August. But Martin is the first recipient who actually started and made their reputation as a stand up comic. And his films beginning with The Jerk and continuing with such modern comedy classics as The Man With Two Brains, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Three Amigos, All Of Me, Roxanne and L.A. Story among many others are not the type that have always come to the forefront at awards time. But with Brooks , and now Martin, the AFI is putting its clout behind the humor and saying that the ability to make us laugh deserves to be on the same pedestal with the likes of such past honorees as Alfred Hitchcock, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Meryl Streep, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Billy Wilder, Fred Astaire , Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese , Bette Davis and last year’s honoree Jane Fonda among so many other film legends. It’s been a great few years for Martin who received an Honorary Oscar last year after being overlooked as an actor by the Academy his entire career. He is also a multiple Grammy winner for his musical forays and received the Kennedy Center Honor. Martin has proven to be much more than a comedic star as an author, musician , playwright etc but its comedy where his career has shined brightest and now the AFI has jumped on the bandwagon and decided that’s something great indeed, that a generally overlooked art form , comedy, really is King. At least for this one day. It should be another fun night come June.
Here’s the full release from AFI:
STEVE MARTIN TO RECEIVE 43RD AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
America’s Highest Honor for a Career in Film to be Presented June 4, 2015
Tribute will Air on TNT in June 2015, and Encore on Turner Classic Movies
LOS ANGELES, CA, October 3, 2014 – Sir Howard Stringer, Chair of the American Film Institute’s Board of Trustees, announced today the Board’s decision to honor Steve Martin with the 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film. The award will be presented to Martin at a gala tribute in Los Angeles, CA on June 4, 2015. The 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute special will return for its third year on TNT when it airs in June 2015, followed by encore presentations on sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
“Steve Martin is an American original,” said Stringer. “From a wild and crazy stand-up
comic to one who stands tall among the great figures in this American art form, he is a
multi-layered creative force bound by neither convention nor caution. His work is defined by him alone, for he is the author – and a national treasure whose work has stuck with us like an arrow in the head. AFI is proud to present him with its 43rd Life Achievement Award.”
One of the most diversified performers and acclaimed artists of his generation, Steve Martin is an actor, comedian, author, playwright, screenwriter, producer and musician. Recipient of an Emmy®, four Grammy® Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor and an Honorary Oscar®, Martin first rose to prominence as a stand-up comedian and quickly established himself as a leading man with a body of work defined by his unique creative voice.
Martin began his career writing for THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR – and in 1969, won an Emmy® for his work. Through the 1970s, he appeared on a number of memorable TV shows – including iconic spots on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – as well as comedy essays and albums. The big screen beckoned. Martin’s first film was a seven-minute short he wrote and starred in, THE ABSENT-MINDED WAITER. The film was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Short Film, Live Action in 1977. In 1979, he had a break-out role as the sweet and clueless “Navin Johnson” in THE JERK (which Martin also co-wrote). It was a perfect showcase for his distinct comedic sensibilities – earnest, innocent and absurd – and it launched him into the zeitgeist. PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981) followed, and he went on to become a bankable big-screen star, with distinct roles in films such as DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID (1982), THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (1983), THREE AMIGOS! (1986), LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (1988) – while also embodying an endearing everyman in ALL OF ME (1984), PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987), ROXANNE (1987) and FATHER OF THE BRIDE parts I and II (1991, 1995). He proved himself more than just a funnyman in bittersweet ensemble works including PARENTHOOD (1989), GRAND CANYON (1991), L.A. STORY (1991) and SHOPGIRL (2005) – a film which he wrote based on his own novella of the same name.
In addition to his beloved film credits and his successful writing career, Martin is also an accomplished musician. Martin recently premiered his new musical BRIGHT STAR, at the Old Globe Theater featuring original music by Martin and songwriter Edie Brickell, inspired by their Grammy® Award-winning collaboration “Love Has Come For You.”
About Steve Martin
Steve Martin was born in Waco, Texas but was raised mostly in Southern California. As a teenager, Martin sold guidebooks and performed magic tricks at Disneyland – honing his craft among seasoned performers at the Happiest Place On Earth. He studied philosophy at Long Beach State College but eventually transferred to the theater program at the University of California, Los Angeles – before leaving college altogether to become a comedy writer for THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, winning an Emmy® Award in 1969.
In the 1970s, Martin performed stand-up comedy in local clubs, wrote for THE SONNY AND CHER COMEDY HOUR and appeared on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. In 1979, he brought his offbeat humor to his first starring role in a feature film with THE JERK, which he also co-wrote.
Among Martin’s additional credits are DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID (1982), ALL OF ME (1984), LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986), jTHREE AMIGOS! (1986), ROXANNE (1987), DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (1988), L.A. STORY (1991), FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1991), CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (2003), SHOPGIRL (2005) and THE PINK PANTHER (2006).
He has also released four comedy albums between 1977 and 1981, winning GRAMMY® Awards for “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy.” He received a gold record for his hit comedy song “King Tut” and recently won another GRAMMY® – Best American Roots Song for “Love Has Come For You,” off his nominated album of the same name. An accomplished playwright and essayist, he wrote his first book – “Cruel Shoes” – in 1977.
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About the AFI Life Achievement Award
The highest honor given for a career in film, the AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the AFI Board of Trustees in 1973. It is presented to a single honoree each year based on the following criteria as mandated through a resolution passed by the AFI Board of Trustees:
“The recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time.”
Most recently, the 42nd AFI Life Achievement Award tribute brought together the film community to honor Jane Fonda. AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Michael Douglas (2009) presented the award, while past honorees Robert De Niro (2003), Morgan Freeman (2011) and Meryl Streep (2004) paid tribute to Fonda and her diverse talent. Among Fonda’s family, friends and collaborators who shared stories about the honoree were Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Sally Field, Peter Fonda, Troy Garity, Eva Longoria and Lily Tomlin.
AFI Life Achievement Award Recipients
Steve Martin joins an esteemed group of individuals who have been chosen for this distinguished honor since its inception in 1973.
1973 John Ford
1974 James Cagney
1975 Orson Welles
1976 William Wyler
1977 Bette Davis
1978 Henry Fonda
1979 Alfred Hitchcock
1980 James Stewart
1981 Fred Astaire
1982 Frank Capra
1983 John Huston
1984 Lillian Gish
1985 Gene Kelly
1986 Billy Wilder
1987 Barbara Stanwyck
1988 Jack Lemmon
1989 Gregory Peck
1990 David Lean
1991 Kirk Douglas
1992 Sidney Poitier
1993 Elizabeth Taylor 1994 Jack Nicholson
1995 Steven Spielberg
1996 Clint Eastwood
1997 Martin Scorsese
1998 Robert Wise
1999 Dustin Hoffman
2000 Harrison Ford
2001 Barbra Streisand
2002 Tom Hanks
2003 Robert De Niro
2004 Meryl Streep
2005 George Lucas
2006 Sean Connery
2007 Al Pacino
2008 Warren Beatty
2009 Michael Douglas
2010 Mike Nichols
2011 Morgan Freeman
2012 Shirley MacLaine
2013 Mel Brooks
2014 Jane Fonda
About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory.
For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.