Steve Martin's Wild and Crazy Career Ride from Orange County to Stardom is PBS Show's Focus

Steve Martin's Orange County roots run deep. He was a cheerleader at Garden Grove High School, attended Santa Ana College and Cal State Long Beach, got one of his first jobs at Disneyland, developed a magic act in the park's Magic Shop and went on to join a Knott's Berry Farm comedy troupe. I don't recall ever hearing the 68-year-old talk in depth about his early days here so perhaps Paula Zahn pulls that out of the actor/comic/author/musician/screenwriter in a PBS interview airing Friday night.


Martin is interviewed on LAaRT at 8:30 p.m. Friday on PBS SoCaL (Channel 50), and the program description notes he's a Cal State Long Beach graduate, which means there is hope Zahn will delve into his earlier Orange County days. Otherwise, the program notes state Martin will talk about his career, “which started in 1969 as a writer for the Smothers Brother Comedy Hour, his collaboration with Edie Brickell, and his Great Performances concert debut.”

Martin and Brickell followed up their surprising Grammy Award for American roots recording with the Great Performances concert “Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell Live,” which was taped up the road at the historic Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside. It debuts on PBS stations nationwide this month. A companion CD/DVD set from Martin's first-ever live PBS performance includes two hours of comedy and bluegrass music, including four previously unrecorded songs. Here's a mock PBS pledge break Martin taped:

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell hits the road for a tour later this month, with three dates at the Hollywood Bowl over the Fourth of July weekend.

Having worked at Disneyland over Fourth of July weekends, I am sure I could compare battle scars with Martin, who like me started as a seasonal/part-time cast member, albeit 25 years earlier.

He started selling guidebooks on weekends in 1955 as well as full-time during school breaks through 1958. He'd spend his off time at the Magic Shop in the iconic Disney castle, where he would master several tricks and illusions presented to guests. Martin parlayed that into a paying job in the shop, where besides magic he would learn some skills he would later apply to his absurdist comedy act: juggling, and making balloon animals.

Two of Martin's collaborators would go on to fame of their own. He and his friend and Garden Grove High classmate Kathy Westmoreland played in comedies and other productions in Knott's Berry Farm's Bird Cage Theatre. She's now a country singer. Martin and Stormie Sherk created comedy routines together. She's now a Christian author.

Martin and Sherk became boyfriend and girlfriend, but the distance between their universities–Cal State Long Beach for him and UCLA for her–ultimately broke up the relationship. One wild and crazy ride!

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