It’s Steve Martin’s birthday, so I’m sending you a classic that features in the first ever Letters of Note book. Eternal thanks to both Steve Martin and Jerry Carlson for allowing it.
Celebrities are faced with a dilemma as their star ascends: the fan mail that used to trickle to the front door now needs its own home, and replying to those messages of support is suddenly a full-time job of its own. A small few battle on valiantly, determined to respond personally to each and every piece of correspondence regardless of the trouble, expense or delay; most, however, take the easy, altogether more sensible route and produce a form letter, to be signed and used as a stock reply for every fan. Impersonal and slightly disappointing, yes, but a response nonetheless.
Trust comedy legend Steve Martin to plump for the latter option but still, thanks to a dab of perfectly pitched humour, come out smelling of roses. This particular example was sent to a 17-year-old fan named Jerry Carlson in 1979, the year The Jerk, arguably one of the funniest films he has ever starred in, was released.
A PERSONAL LETTER FROM STEVE MARTIN
WHAT A PLEASURE IT WAS TO RECEIVE A LETTER FROM YOU. ALTHOUGH MY SCHEDULE IS VERY BUSY, I DECIDED TO TAKE TIME OUT TO WRITE YOU A PERSONAL REPLY.
TOO OFTEN PERFORMERS LOSE CONTACT WITH THEIR AUDIENCE AND BEGIN TO TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN TO ME, WILL IT Jerry? I DON’T KNOW WHEN I’LL BE APPEARING CLOSE TO YOU, BUT KEEP THAT EXTRA BUNK MADE UP IN CASE I GET TO Flint.
P.S. I’LL ALWAYS CHERISH THAT AFTERNOON WE SPENT TOGETHER IN RIO, WALKING ALONG THE BEACH, LOOKING AT rocks.