Petite and wide-eyed under a mass of curls, Andrea Martin created several memorable characters as part of the troupe writing and performing on "Second City TV/SCTV/SCTV Network" (syndicated 1977-81; NBC 1981-83). Two of her more memorable creations were the gibberish-spouting cleaning woman Prini Schlerosi and the leopard-skin-clad, tightly wound TV station manager Edith Prickley. During the course of the show's run, Martin was nominated for 10 Emmy Awards for her writing (winning back to back awards in 1982 and 1983) and one for her characterizations. Following the end of that series, Martin maintained a steady career as a stage actress with high-profile roles on and off Broadway, while maintaining simultaneous careers as a comic character actress in film, most notably as the memorable Aunt Voula in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2002) and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" (2016) and as a series regular on sitcoms "Difficult People" (Hulu 2015- ) and "Great News" (NBC 2017- ).
Of Armenian descent, Martin was born and raised in Portland, Maine. 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 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, 2010-11), 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. Martin starred in the short-lived sitcom "Working the Engels" (NBC 2014) as a meddling mother trying to keep her family law firm together after the death of her husband. The following year, she joined the cast of the critically-acclaimed "Difficult People" (Hulu 2015- ) before returning to one of her her most popular roles in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" (2016). Martin joined forces with comedy legend Tina Fey to star in the workplace sitcom "Great News" (NBC 2017- ), as the meddlesome mother of an ambitious TV news producer (Briga Heelan).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Special)
Cast as Lucy in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
Feature debut, "Cannibal Girls" directed by Ivan Reitman
Was member of both the writing staff and performing ensemble of "Second City Television/SCTV/SCTV Network"; aired in syndication from 1977-1981; aired on NBC from 1981-1983
Guest-starred on the CBS sitcom "Kate and Allie"
Starred in short-lived CBS sitcom "Roxie"; a spin-off from "Kate and Allie"
Headlined own variety special "Andrea Martin: Together Again"; also served as executive producer and writer
Broadway debut in the short-lived musical "My Favorite Year"
Had recurring role on the short-lived "The Martin Short Show" (NBC)
Had featured role of Mistress Quickly, in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
Appeared in one-person show "Nude Nude Totally Nude"
Returned to Broadway as the Old Lady in Hal Prince's revival of "Candide"
Played the title character's motherly agent in the film adaptation of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Returned to Broadway as Aunt Eller in the Trevor Nunn-directed revival of "Oklahoma!"
Starred as Aunt Voula in the summer hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," written by and starred Nia Vardalos
Again portrayed Aunt Voula for the short lived CBS sitcom "My Big Fat Greek Life," based on the hit movie
Starred on Broadway as Golde opposite Harvey Fierstein's Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Cast in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" as Frau Blucher; received a Tony nomination for Featured Actress in a Musical
Joined the cast of the Broadway production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King"
Performed the one-woman show "Final Days! Everything Must Go!" in Toronto
Featured in the revival of the Broadway musical "Pippin," leading to a Tony Award win