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Andrea Martin Biography

Home > Actresses > M > Martin, Andrea > Biography

Birth Name: Andrea Martin
Born: 01/15/1947
Birth Place: Portland, Maine, USA

Of Armenian descent, Martin was born and raised in Portland, ME. Her mother has claimed she started performing at age four, entertaining fellow patients in a pediatric ward and she became involved with local children's theater. As a teenager, Martin made her professional debut as a singer at Portland's annual Armenian Dance and Picnic. After earning her degree from Emerson College, she moved to NYC and almost immediately landed the role of Lucy in a stage production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

A romance led her to relocate to Toronto, where Martin appeared with Martin Short, Gilda Radner and Victor Garber in a now-legendary production of "Godspell". Other stage roles followed and this "honorary Canadian" was invited to join the Second City troupe as they were developing a TV variety series. Her success on "SCTV" led to other offers; Martin made a number of busted pilots. She also appeared in numerous comedy specials, including "Martin Short Concert for North America" (Showtime, 1985), HBO's "Comic Relief" (1986) and headlined her own Canadian Broadcasting Corporation special, "Andrea Martin: Together Again" (1989). Martin had landed a recurring role on the CBS sitcom "Kate and Allie" and was spun-off into her own short-lived effort "Roxie" (CBS, 1987), but the result barely tapped her zany abilities. Martin has seemed more at home in the looser structure of sketch comedy where her innate humor and oddball characters can flourish. She co-starred on longtime friend Martin Short's eponymous NBC sitcom, but again was hampered by the format.

Martin's big-screen outings began with Ivan Reitman's improvisational "Cannibal Girls" (1973), but she never really found a breakthrough role to propel her to movie stardom. Martin was mostly relegated to small character roles as in "Wholly Moses!" (1980), "Club Paradise" (1986) and "Too Much Sun" (1991). She was appropriately mousy as a librarian with a yen to dance in "Stepping Out" (1991) and had a few good moments as Whoopi Goldberg's long-suffering secretary in the appropriately titled "Bogus" (1996).

In 1992, Martin returned to stage work, scoring a Tony Award as Featured Actress in a Musical for her delightful turn as the only female staff writer on a 1950s TV program not unlike "Your Show of Shows" in "My Favorite Year," an uneven musicalization of the charming 1982 film. In the 1993 L.A. production of Terrence McNally's "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," she had the role of a pretentious suburban housewife alongside Nathan Lane, John Glover and Roxanne Hart. Martin tackled the Bard in the New York Shakespeare Festival's 1994 production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." The play was reconceived and set in an American frontier town with Martin's Mistress Quickly now a saloon owner. The overall results were underwhelming, but most critics singled the actress out for praise. "Nude, Nude, Totally Nude" (1996) was Martin's one-woman show which allowed her free rein to create a galaxy of characters while also exploring her heritage, her marriage and her affairs with younger men. The actress returned to Broadway in the 1997 revival of "Candide," winning praise for her portrayal of the garrulous Old Lady.

During the 1990s, Martin also began regularly lending her voice to animated productions, including the Don Bluth feature film "Anastasia" (1997) and the popular kiddie show "Rugrats" (Nickelodeon, 1991-2004). In 1999, Martin reunited with Lane via voice-over for the amiable hippo-heavy HBO cartoon series "George and Martha," and she also played Ms. Fowl on the Nick animated show "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" (2002-06). Martin appeared in the art-house hit "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (2001) and was typically lively on screen as Aunt Voula in the huge surprise hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2002), as well as its fortunately short-lived TV spin-off "My Big Fat Greek Life" (CBS, 2003).

She joined the cast of the 2002 revival of the adored musical "Oklahoma!," and continued to reliably turn up on stage, notably in the 2005 version of "Fiddler on the Roof" and the 2007 Broadway take on "Young Frankenstein," as well as the 2009 production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King," which also included Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon. Over the years, Martin was featured on the iconic kids' show "Sesame Street" (PBS, 1969- ) in various guises, both animated and live-action, and her knack for education-oriented children's television came in handy for her voice work on "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" (PBS, 2010- ), a playful cartoon show that once again found her working with Short, who portrayed the fun feline title character. Following a one-off guest appearance on the quirky comedy "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013), Martin appeared in the 2013 production of "Pippin," resulting in another Tony win for her role as Berthe in the buoyant musical.