About Martin Alan Feldman
<Archive obituary> <The Times, December 4, 1982>
<Original comedian on films and television>
Marty Feldman, the writer and comedian, died in Mexico City on December 2 at the age of 49. He was on location with a film company.
Feldman, who was born in Canning Town, East London, of a poor Jewish family, was an individual talent who will be much missed. A bizarre appearance - huge, uncoordinated eyes, dishelevelled hair and an ear to ear grin - gave him a natural advantage as a comic though he went through several false starts before emerging as one of the most original performers on television in the late 1960s.
As a youngster he played jazz in London clubs and was later a trumpeter with a variety act called Maurice, Marty and Mitch. It was during his tour of the music halls, then in their death throes, that he met another aspiring comic, Barry Took, and eventually the two got together as scriptwriters fro such shows as The Frost Report and Round the Horne series, starring Kenneth Horne. Feldman did not come to prominence as a performer, however, until he joined John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graham Chapman in At Last the 1948 Show.
In 1968 Feldman starred in his own comedy series, Marty, on BBC2, with Barry Took again as his writing colleague. It was one of the best shows of its time, revealing a splendidly creative and anarchic talent, with an ability to breathe fresh life into familiar routines. It also had a strong visual sense and naturally led Feldman into films.
In 1974, after further series of Marty, Feldman left Britain for Hollywood where he found a kindred spirit in the director Mel Brooks. Their first venture together was Young Frankenstein, a splendid spoof on the monster legend, and they also worked on Silent Movie; in between, Feldman appeared under Gene Wilder's direction in another tilt at a classic, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother.
After that Feldman turned director himself, with The Last Re-Make of Beau Geste, though in spite of some inspired moments, the whole was less than the sum of the parts and raised doubts whether Feldman could sustain his comic invention over feature film length. His last film as director and star, In God We Trust, which appeared last year, was also something of a disappointment.
At the time of his death he was acting in Yellow Beard, a pirates comedy written by Graham Chapman, and he had been considering a return to British television from which he had been too long away.