People Magazine: Steve Martin, May, 1978

On a fine Thursday morning such as this I like to settle into my La-Z-Boy recliner, pull the tab on a Fresca, crack open an old magazine and travel back in time.*

The May 1st, 1978 issue of People Magazine featured a cover story on comedian Steve Martin. Martin, already hugely-successful by that time (and a virtual god in my 11-year-old eyes), reveals his relationship with Bernadette Peters, chats about his home in Aspen and his budding interest in collecting works of art.

Let’s take a look at some quotes from the issue:

“The Crazy & Wild Steve Martin (by Frank W. Martin)

He’s Kidding When He Says Let’s Get Small. He Doesn’t Do Dope, and He’s Never Been Bigger

…He’s a middle-class WASP from California’s Reagan country who’s moving in on the Woody Allen and Richard Pryor turf. And a prematurely gray 32-year-old in a $600 Mark Twain white suit knocking out blue-denim and double-knit audiences. His breakthrough LP is titled Let’s Get Small (stoned), but Martin has barely drunk even wine for several years and hasn’t smoked dope in seven. He’s an ex-philosophy major who dares to play lunatic. Like the night postperformance in Nashville when he led fans into a diner and demanded 274 burgers—then changed the order to one fries to go. ‘One time on the Tonight Show,’ Martin shrugs, ‘Johnny Carson leaned over during a commercial and said, ‘You’ll do everything you know to get a laugh.’ He’s right.”

Steve and the banjo - a lifelong love affair

“But yuks are what ‘Professional Show Business’ (as Steve facetiously calls it) is all about, and his brand of nontopical, vaudevillian self-parody has put him on Carson’s show 40 times (five as host) and NBC’s Saturday Night Live five times. Last year Martin grossed more than $1 million, made a major movie deal, struck gold and a Grammy with Let’s Get Small—and keeps on getting bigger.

Past his comedian’s angst, he maintains, ‘I’m much happier now that I’m successful. I can understand why people get depressed without it.’ These days he figures he can afford ‘fur-lined sinks and an electric dog polisher’ and has one more reason to be happy. It’s not short-time old lady Linda Ronstadt (‘We just talk on the phone, and I send her tapes of Irish folk music’) but Bernadette Peters, 30, star of TV’s retired All’s Fair. They’ve been keeping company since their mutual agent Marty Klein introduced them six months ago.”

You can read the full article for more.

*OK, I don’t really own a La-Z-Boy recliner but a cold Fresca would sure hit the spot.

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