Hollywood comedian Martin Lawrence made a name for himself after creating,
executive producing and taking multiple roles in the sitcom “Martin”
(1992-1997). Lawrence’s witty portrayal of Martin Payne and other characters
garnered him two Image Awards, as well as another Image and two Kids’ Choice
nominations. The comic actor also received rave reviews for his roles in the
action comedy Bad Boys (1995) and its sequel Bad Boys 2 (2003), Life (1999,
opposite Eddie Murphy) and Big Momma’s House (2000). For his funny performances,
Lawrence was handed a 1995 ShoWest Award and a 2005 BET Comedy Award.
Off screen, Lawrence’s life is as intriguing as his career. After being banned
from NBC for his vulgar remarks on “Saturday Night Live” (1994), he had to be
hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in July 2005 after a wild outburst
on the set of A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996). On May 7, 1996, he was
arrested by police in Sherman Oaks, California, after complaints were made that
he was screaming at motorists and pedestrians. Two months later, he was arrested
at Burbank Airport for carrying a loaded 9mm Baretta. He received two years’
probation. His co-star on Martin, Tisha Campbell, sued him for sexual harassment
and left the show during its final season. Lawrence was also involved in some
other violent and drug related cases. Now recovering from drug and alcohol
abuse, the actor is busy with property he owns in Northern Virginia.
In 1993, Lawrence was engaged to actress Lark Voorhies (born on March 25, 1975),
but they later broke up. He later was briefly married to Patricia Southall, with
whom he shares a daughter.
Childhood and Family:
A son of Chlora Lawrence (ex-cashier) and a U.S. military father, Martin
Fitzgerald Lawrence was born on April 16, 1965, in Frankfurt am Maen, Hessen,
Germany. After his father retired, the family moved to Queens, New York. In
1973, Martin’s parents divorced and he moved to Maryland with his mother,
sister, Ursula Lawrence, and brothers Robert Lawrence and Rae Proctor.
During his teen years, Martin excelled at boxing and became a Mid-Atlantic
Golden Gloves boxing contender. However, comedy was his true calling. While at
Eleanor Roosevelt High School, he poked fun at others during breaks and recess,
and teachers would routinely let him have a few minutes of class time to tell
jokes. It was a teacher who suggested to Martin that he try stand-up comedy at a
local comedy club. Later, he went to New York and did stand-up comedy while
working as a gas station attendant.
As for his private life, 5’ 7-inch tall Martin was married to former Miss
Virginia, Patricia Southall, on January 7, 1995. A year later, the marriage
ended in divorce. The couple shares a daughter named Jasmine Page (born January
Making stand-up comedy his first step toward international success, Martin
Lawrence told jokes in the Washington circuit before moving to Washington Square
Park in NY. He won the first round of the “Star Search” competition in 1987, but
lost in the final round. Fortunately, his performance in the competition was
noticed by Columbia Pictures, which offered him a deal to play a recurring part
as smart-mouthed busboy Maurice Warfield in the last season of the sitcom
“What’s Happening Now!” (1987-1988). In 1989, Lawrence was seen in the roles of
Sydney Masterson in A Little Bit Strange (TV) and Cee in Do the Right Thing.
Following the role of Bilal in House Party (1990) and House Party 2 (1991),
Lawrence’s name blasted off when HBO developed a sitcom for him titled “Martin”
(1992-1997). In the series, Lawrence, who was also the creator and executive
producer, initially starred as Martin Payne. In the course of the show, he
created other characters for himself to play, like Edna ‘Mama’ Payne, Sheneneh,
Jenkins, Roscoe, Jerome, Elroy, Bob, King Beef and many more. Lawrence won two
Image awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, as well as an Image
and two Kids’ Choice nominations. For his witty acting, he was handed a ShoWest
for Male Star of Tomorrow.
While working on his sitcom, Lawrence also hosted an HBO comedy series called
“Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” (1992). He also released a concert album
titled Talkin’ Shit (1993) and a concert film named You So Crazy (1994, also
wrote), both of which were his recorded stand-up acts. In the latter project,
Lawrence served as the executive producer and writer (unaccredited), as well.
However, due to its NC-17 rating, many theaters refused to screen You So Crazy.
Still in 1994, he hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” in which some of
his remarks banned him from NBC.
Lawrence took the MTV Movie-nominated role of Detective Marcus Burnett, opposite
Will Smith, in Michael Bay’s feature directorial debut Bad Boys (1995), before
having his first directorial attempt in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
(1996). Besides starring in the dramatic comedy, the comedian also executive
produced, wrote the screenplay and the story, and supervised the music. The
movie was not well-received. Soon after costarring with Tim Robbins in Nothing
to Lose (1997), he gave a fine portrayal of prisoner Claude Banks in Life (1999,
opposite Eddie Murphy) and received a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination.
He was then seen as FBI undercover agent Malcolm Turner in Big Momma’s House
(2000, also executive produced). Here, Lawrence’s fine turn earned a Blockbuster
Entertainment, a Kids’ Choice, a Teen Choice and a MTV Movie nomination. The
next year, he executive produced two films, Black Knight (2001) and What’s the
Worst That Could Happen (2001, costarred alongside Danny DeVito).
The comedian returned to stand-up comedy and recorded his live performance at
the Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. for a concert film titled Martin
Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2002, also credited as the writer). After reprising
his role of Detective Marcus Burnett in Bad Boys 2 (2003, brought an MTV Movie
nomination), Lawrence executive produced and starred as coach Roy
McCormick/Preacher Don in the family comedy Rebound (2005).
The recipient of the 2005 BET Comedy for Icon Comedy, the actor recently
returned to his role of FBI agent Malcolm Turner in his self-produced Big
Momma’s House 2 (2006). Lawrence will provide his voice for Boog in the animated
comedy Open Season (2006), for director Roger Allers and Jill Culton. He is also
set to take part in the adventure comedy Wild Hogs (2007), along with big names
like Tim Allen, William H. Macy and John Travolta.
BET Comedy: Icon Comedy Award, 2005
Image: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Martin,” 1996
Image: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Martin,” 1995
ShoWest: Male Star of Tomorrow, 1995