Martin Knelman


The Life of Mike Myers

"If Mike Myers ever becomes a Jeopardy! category, this book will win you the big bucks! In fact, author Martin Knelman scores a true daily double with this in-depth, no-holds-barred look into the darker side of Canada's latest comic enfant terrible."
- The Globe and Mail

Mike Myers, raised in suburban Toronto, started his career at Second City, then soared into the spotlight on Saturday Night Live and quickly graduated to stardom with such hit films as Wayne's World, the Austin Powers movies, and Shrek. Much loved by adoring audiences, he has become plagued by his growing reputation as a demanding, controlling artist.

Martin Knelman, author of acclaimed biographies of John Candy and Jim Carrey, examines the source of Mike Myers' talent, the roots of his ambition, and the trajectory of his career.

The story starts in 1956, when one year after their marriage, Eric and Alice, aka "Bunny," Myers left England and settled in Scarborough, one of Toronto's middle-class suburbs and the font of much of Mike's material. To Eric, nothing in life was more imporant than comedy, especially British comedy.

Mike had a lucrative showbiz career as a boy, landing 17 commercials for such brands as Kit Kat candy bars, K-mart, and Pepsi. But it was a commercial with the late Gilda Radner that changed his life. As an 11-year-old boy, Mike fell in love with her. When she became a star on Saturday Night Live, he announced that he too would one day star on the show.

Wayne's World, a famous sketch on Saturday Night Live, based on Mike's adolescence in Scarborough, led to the incredibly successful film. But Mike's reputation as a talented but difficult artist was becoming the stuff of tabloid fodder and lawsuits, perhaps unfairly.

Mike's career is once again on track and he continues to live by his father's credo that "silliness is an underrated art form and a state of grace."

Penguin Canada/ August 2002 Firefly US/ Spring/03


The Life of Jim Carrey

In 1976, at a Toronto comedy club, a nerdy 14-year-old from the outskirts of the city turned up to make his debut on amateur night, encouraged by a doting father, himself a frustrated performer. Doing a bad Jimmy Stewart impression, he drew hoots of derision from the unmerciful crowd. Young Jim Carrey was so devastated that it took several years before he was ready to try again.

This is the astonishing story of how a charming misfit from a troubled family overcame a desperately insecure childhook - and went on to become Hollywood's biggest star of the 1990’s.

Martin Knelman tells how Carrey became a hot young comic in L.A. only to have his life and career reach an apparent dead end at age 25; how the TV series In Living Color gave him a second chance; and how an unlikely movie vehicle about a pet detective became Carrey’s ticket to superstardom.

Carrey has gone from one phenomenal hit to another - The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar, and The Truman show - yet the emotional stability that Carrey so painfully lacked in his childhood may continue to elude him.

Penguin CAN/99



The Life Of
John Candy

“Martin Knelman probes deeper to find the real John Candy, a much more ambivalent figure… he’s rescued him from the sanctimonious prison of his image. We can laugh now.”
- Mark Breslin/Toronto Star

John Candy -- the actor and comedian who died of a heart attack at age 43 in 1994 -- was one of film and television's best loved personalities. In the 1970's, Candy became an audience favorite on the cult-hit series SCTV, creating such hilarious characters as the self-indulgent, conniving conman, Johnny LaRue. Then, following friends and colleagues Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, John Candy made the move to Hollywood -- appearing in more than two dozen pictures, including Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck.

When John Candy met entrepreneur/movie producer/sports promoter Bruce McNall, he thought he had met the man who embodied Hollywood success. Candy saw McNall as a role model, and someone who was in control of his career -- a position that had so far eluded Candy. They became partners (along with hockey star Wayne Gretzky) in an ill-fated sports venture -- the ownership of Candy's beloved hometown football team, The Toronto Argonauts. When the McNall empire crashed in 1993, Candy apparently was a victim of a man who bore a distinct resemblance to Johnny LaRue.

Martin Knelman shows how small roles in successful comedies like Stripes and The Blues Brothers led John Candy to one of his best roles ever, the high-living brother of the hero, Tom Hanks, in Splash. As Freddie, Candy is endearing and hilarious; he plays racquetball with Hanks, smoking and drinking beer from a large cooler he has brought to the gym. The character of the lovable slob, full of sweetness, mirrors Candy's life. He was a compulsive over-eater, a chain-smoker and a heavy drinker. He was also a sensitive, generous and much-loved man whose rapport with millions of fans was based on the fact that he always came across as an ordinary guy.

Penguin Canada Oct/96
St. Martin's Press (U.S.) Oct/97

Martin Knelman, a prominent, award-winning Toronto journalist, is the author of three books about show business.