Comedic actor Martin Short gets serious, talks about his late wife with Howard Stern

SHARE Comedic actor Martin Short gets serious, talks about his late wife with Howard Stern

Martin Short is best known as a brilliant comedic actor whose characters include geeky spaz Ed Grimley and moronic celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick. But he’s serious and sensitive, too. Those latter qualities were on display during an alternately deep and silly conversation Wednesday with Sirius/XM host Howard Stern. Short appeared on the satellite show to plug his new book, “I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend.”

When the 64-year-old Short was much younger, one of five kids in Canada, his parents both died of illnesses and his oldest brother in a car accident.

“We were an Irish-Catholic family of five kids and laughs and edge and sarcasm and my father — hilarious,” Short told Stern. “And then, within six years, three of those people died. And it’s Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, 1970. So it’s not like, bring in the nine shrinks. You have to get on your bike and ride it around and figure it out. And you do.”

Experiencing those losses, Short added, helped to put other things in perspective.

“John Candy used to say, when we’d be on the Second City stage, ‘Oh, you have balls of steel in some of the choices you make.'” Short recalled of his years with the late comic actor at Second City’s Toronto outpost. “And I used to think, ‘I don’t care. I’ve been through other things that were more stressful.’”

After losing his wife of 30 years, Nancy Dolman, in August 2010, it was difficult to act or be funny, Short told Stern. He felt anger as well. But eventually, “you just kind of get through it. Because the bottom line is we’re all gonna die.”

“For a while you’re on a plane that’s turbulent and you go, ‘Bring it on.’ Now, you ease out. Also, I had three children to take over. My analogy was we were a jet plane and we had lost and engine, so I gotta keep flying this plane. My kids are looking to see, ‘What now, Dad? Do we still have a house? Do we still do Christmas?’”

The first Thanksgiving after his wife’s death, Short remembered, “was very weird.” In an attempt to “prove that everything will continue, that the family isn’t done, that traditions aren’t done,” he removed extra chairs and set a lovely table to maintain a sense of normalcy. That night, he told his kids, ‘We have broken our leg and we want to [run] in a marathon but we have a cast on. But we won’t always have a cast on our leg.’ And that’s what it is.”

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