While he started as a comedy writer, many people discovered Steve Martin in the 1970s on Saturday Night Live. He then became a successful actor in the movies with hits such as Father of the Bride, Roxanne, The Jerk, Three Amigos, he's written movies, plays, novellas and so much more. And yes, there's that banjo too! To call Steve Martin a Renaissance Man would not be an exaggeration.
In 2020, Martin and Harry Bliss, the talented cartoonist from The New Yorker, created the clever and witty book, A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection. The two have a new collaboration entitled Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions. To explain the title, "number one is walking" is an expression used on movie sets. The lead actor is called number one. And then there's number two, three, etc. The primary actors’ names aren’t used on the set, just their numbers. And soon into his movie career, Martin became number one, which was a bit embarrassing for him.
About half of the book is about Martin's movie career and life in Hollywood. He reflects on his film experiences with interesting and funny stories and anecdotes which are greatly enhanced by Bliss' artwork, done in both a classic comic strip style to lovely portrait-like drawings, mainly of Martin's celebrity friends. Popular comic-strip characters (like Snoopy) whimsically pop into the scenes. After Martin notes that he is now done with acting in the movies, moving on to new projects, the book shifts to works by Bliss, with cartoons that are much like the ones he does for The New Yorker.
I enjoy reading memoirs of people whose work I admire. While not a traditional memoir, this was a wonderfully creative way for Steve Martin to provide stories and memories of a very significant part of his career. It's an attractive coffee table book too. The section devoted to Bliss' work is also enjoyable. From his early wild and crazy days to his current popular television series, Only Murders in the Building, with Martin Short and Selena Gomez, Steve Martin is a remarkable talent. This new book demonstrates his unique ability to entertain us in so many ways. If you're a fan, you'll want to check this book out.
Many thanks to Celadon Books for providing a copy of Number One Is Walking in advance of its publication.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Memoir / Humor. Publication Date: November 15, 2022.
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