WASHINGTON (AP) _ Steve Martin, the ``wild and crazy guy'' who went on to become a movie star, is getting one of America's top comedy prizes.
Martin will be the eighth recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, given annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The presentation will be made Oct. 23.
``His creations, be they on stage, on film or in a book, have created a collective memory of humor and joy for all Americans,'' Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said Tuesday.
While best known for his comedy, Martin also is an award-winning fiction writer. He was the screenwriter for many of the films in which he starred, including ``Roxanne,'' ``L.A. Story,'' ``The Man with Two Brains'' and ``Bowfinger.'' And he plays the banjo.
Born in Waco, Texas, and raised in Southern California, the 59-year-old Martin's varied interests were evident at a young age. He attended Long Beach State University for three years, earnings A's as a philosophy major, but left to become a comedy writer.
He won an Emmy writing for the ``The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'' and also did standup comedy. His career was aided by appearances on Johnny Carson's ``Tonight Show.''
Martin guest-hosted ``Saturday Night Live'' several times, wearing his trademark arrow-through-the-head prop and performing the song ``King Tut,'' which ended up a gold record.
He won Grammy Awards for two comedy albums _ ``Let's Get Small'' and ``A Wild and Crazy Guy.''
His first big film success was ``The Jerk'' in 1979, which he co-wrote and starred in, playing a white hick raised by a black family.
Other films include ``Parenthood,'' ``Father of the Bride'' and the 2003 Christmas hit ``Cheaper by the Dozen.'' A sequel is planned for the summer of 2006.
He has twice been the host of the Academy Awards, joking about his relationship with movie studios.
``I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change a word,'' he said. ``The word they didn't change was on page 87.''
Two short novels by Martin, ``Shopgirl `` and ``The Pleasure of My Company'' have been best sellers. His play ``Picasso at the Lapin Agile'' imagined a dialogue between the artist and Albert Einstein at a tourist night spot in Paris.
Last year's Mark Twain prize went to Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of ``Saturday Night Live.'' Previous winners include Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Newhart.