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Steve Martin is easily a household name across generations due to his long, successful entertainment career. From SNL to the big screen to Broadway and beyond, Martin is the true definition of a renaissance man. As one might expect, his various projects over the years have set the comedian up nicely in the finance department, but you might not realize just how great his wealth truly is. Read on to find out Steve Martin’s net worth and how he amassed his fortune.
Steve Martin Was Destined For A Career In Entertainment
Martin knew he wanted to be a comedian from the time he was a child. At the tender age of 10, he worked at Disneyland, selling guidebooks in Frontierland and demonstrating magic tricks and balloon animal-making at the old Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland.
“I loved to work really hard,” he told Time in 2007.
True to his word, he spent the next 12 years honing his craft. Martin joined a comedy troupe at Knott’s Berry Farm and transferred from Cal State at Long Beach to UCLA to major in theater. But by age 22, he scored a writing gig for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and dropped out of college.
Martin confesses that the job—a major stepping stone in his career—also marked the start of anxiety attacks.
“I was 21 years old. I stumbled into this next level of show business, and I was insecure,” he told NPR’s Fresh Air in 2008. “But I could not afford to be insecure, and so I had buried that insecurity. And of course, it came out physically.”
Stand-Up Comedy Defined Martin’s Early Career
In 1969, at the age of 23, Martin scored an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety or Music. His success led to writing opportunities with other programs, including The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
But a stand-up opportunity on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968 made Martin realize that he enjoyed being on stage as much as he loved working behind the scenes—even if audiences weren’t quite sure what to make of his act. In an essay for Smithsonian Magazine, Martin recalled his first appearance on The Steve Allen Show.
“Steve’s introduction of me was ad-libbed perfectly,” wrote Martin. “‘This next young man is a comedian, and…’ he stammered, ‘…at first you might not get it’—he stammered again—’but then you think about it for a while, and you still don’t get it’—stammer, stammer—’then, you might want to come up on stage and talk to him about it.’”
Nevertheless, the comedian says his TV exposure led to major gigs, including five weeks as the opening act for Ann-Margaret in Las Vegas. There, he met Elvis, who told him “Son, you have an ob-leek sense of humor,” (via Smithsonian Magazine).
Martin continued writing, earning a second Emmy nomination for his work on the sketch comedy show Van Dyke and Company. But he earned household name status for his guest spots on shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live. He parlayed his popularity into two consecutive Grammy-winning comedy albums: Let’s Get Small (1977) and A Wild and Crazy Guy (1978).
“I did stand-up comedy for 18 years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four years were spent in wild success,” he explained on Fresh Air.
“The course was more plodding than heroic. I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talented. I didn’t sing, dance or act, though working around that minor detail made me inventive.”
Most Of His Money Was Made With His Acting Career
For all of Martin’s success, he never intended to make a career out of telling jokes to a live audience.
“Stand-up comedy was really just an accident,” he told Rolling Stone in 1982.
“I felt like a comedian, that was my work,” he continued. “As I got into the movies, I was reminded, ‘Hey, this is really why I got into show business.’ I do like the movies. It’s so condensed. You get to try and make it right.”
Martin’s foray into film proved to be quite lucrative. His first lead role was in Carl Reiner’s The Jerk (1979), which earned over $73 million against a reported $4 million budget. He continued collaborating with the famed director, leaving stand-up behind to star in the hit comedies Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1982), and All of Me (1984).
And his star refused to fade as decades passed. In the late 1980s and 1990s, he starred in classics like Parenthood, My Blue Heaven, and Father of the Bride. By the 2000s, his family-friendly films, including Cheaper by the Dozen and Pink Panther, grossed over $130 million each at the box office.
Martin told Fresh Air that the crossover from an absurdist stage performer to a serious actor was a long process.
“Well, it took a long time. But I did know this–that one day, it will be forgotten. And so I just did what I was going to do. And there was this, you know, hangover effect of wild and crazy guy, wild and crazy guy. And now it’s a dim memory,” he said.
He continued, “And it was actually with the film Roxanne (1987) that I wrote and performed in, and I sensed something new. Before, there was kind of celebrity–it’s not worship, but it’s the celebrity effect. But I sensed something new with that movie, which was respect.”
Steve Martin Is A True Renaissance Man
Martin’s work isn’t limited to films and stand-up. He’s also an accomplished playwright whose work has been performed in major cities across the U.S. In 2016, Bright Star—his musical with Grammy-winning artist Edie Brickell—debuted at the Cort Theatre on Broadway. The New York Times hailed the music as “beautifully played” and the performances “superb.”
Martin is also a humorist who has written numerous pieces for The New Yorker. And Shopgirl, his 2000 novella about a glove saleswoman at a Beverly Hills department store, was adapted into a popular film starring Claire Danes.
To round out the list, Steve Martin has had a lifelong passion for playing the banjo. In the beginning, the comedian would incorporate the banjo in his onstage performances, but later in life he formed Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers. His band was even named the 2011 Entertainer of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.
Fine art is another personal passion, although Martin prefers to collect it rather than produce pieces himself. In 2001, he loaned pieces from his personal fine art collection to an art gallery inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. His holdings were stunning: Martin’s purchases over the years included paintings by Edward Hopper, Picasso, and David Hockney.
But not every acquisition was a winning investment. In 2011, Martin was informed by German police that a 1915 painting by Heinrich Campendonk—purchased for approximately $850,000—was a fake. By the time the forged status was discovered, he had already sold it at a loss for $500,000 to a Swiss businesswoman.
Steve Martin’s Net Worth
According to various websites, Steve Martin’s estimated net worth is anywhere between $110 and $166 million.
The Richest provides a breakdown of his reported salary throughout the years, from $600,000 for The Jerk to a whopping $28 million for The Pink Panther. Martin also made a pretty penny on his art investments—in 2006, he sold an Edward Hopper painting at Sotheby’s for $26.8 million. But the sale marked the end of his own collecting career.
“Every collector eventually gets priced out as inflation takes hold,” he told Reuters. “A really great painting today costs over $20 million.”
Martin apparently invests in real estate instead. In 1997, he purchased a Beverly Hills home from actors Corbin Bernsen and Amanda Pays for $995,000; in 2019, he listed it for $2.149 million. And in 2015, he sold a magnificent villa on the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s for $7.78 million.
Given his clout and talent, Martin proves he can still earn a pretty penny. Variety reports that he received $600,000 per episode for his more recent role in Only Murders in the Building. Not bad for a man who got his start making balloon animals for Disneyland tourists.