Monday, June 29, 2020


Martin Alan Feldman was born in East London on July 8, 1934.  He was the son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine.  Growing up, Feldman had musical aspirations, dropping out of school at fifteen to become a jazz trumpeter.  He'd give it up in a few years however, setting his sights, figuratively, on comedy.

In 1954, Feldman formed a writing partnership with comedian Barry Took that would endure for the next two decades.  The two wrote episodes of popular BBC sit-coms, including The Army Game and Bootsie and Snudge.  Click on the titles to see an episode of each series.

Feldman wouldn't become a serious performer until 1967, when he was cast on the sketch comedy series At Last the 1948 Show.  He was teamed with future Monty Python members John Cleese and Graham Chapman.  Here's an episode in its entirety.

Cast of At Last the 1948 Show.
The series proved popular enough that Feldman was given one of his own.  Marty premiered in 1968 and would last for two seasons, earning Feldman two BAFTA awards.  Here's a clip from the series.

American audiences would first meet Feldman in 1971, when the ABC network aired his series The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine.  It would only last for one season, but Feldman left a memorable mark.

The pinnacle of his career, both in America and abroad, came in 1974, when he was cast in the Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein.  Writer Gene Wilder commented that he created the part of Igor specifically for Feldman, having been a fan of his multiple BBC series. Many of the film's more memorable lines were in fact ad libbed by Feldman and Wilder.

A few years later, Feldman would put in a memorable performance on The Muppet Show, including a sequence wherein he and the Cookie Monster try to outdo one another in a contest of odd eye contortions.  Really.  You can see that episode in its entirety here.

In 1982, Feldman was in Mexico filming the movie Yellowbeard when he suffered a fatal heart attack.  He passed away on December 2nd and the film was subsequently dedicated to him.  Here's the theatrical trailer.

He was buried in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in the Court of Valor, not far from his idol, Buster Keaton.

Court of Valor
Map #H02, Lot #5400, Space #4
Inscription: He made us laugh. He took my pain away.  I love you. Lauretta
Here's a shot from the internet of how it looks all cleaned up.

Rest in Peace, Igor.

  • Feldman's distinctive look was the result of a thyroid condition known as Graves ophthalmopathy, which caused his eyes to protrude and become misaligned.  Regarding the role it played in his career, Feldman once stated "If I aspired to be Robert Redford, I'd have my eyes straightened and my nose fixed and end up like every other lousy actor, with two lines on Kojak.  But this way I'm a novelty."

  • His role as Igor won him the first ever Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.

  • Feldman released two musical albums, Marty (1968) and I Feel a Song Going Off (1969).  Although currently unavailable, the latter does have a page on Amazon.  You can also listen to the track "A Joyous Time of Year" here.

  • Feldman was working on his autobiography before he died.  It wouldn't be released until 2016, when it was finally completed by good friend Eric Idle.  You can pick up a copy of Eye Marty: The Newly Discovered Autobiography of a Comic Genius from Amazon.

  • Wanna see some Young Frankenstein bloopers?  Here you go.

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