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Although best known as a comic actor on television shows ranging from '70s talk show satire Fernwood 2-Night to '90s teen fluff sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Martin Mull is also a gifted musician who released several fine albums towards the beginning of his career. While his peculiar sense of humor is evident on all of his albums, Mull is no Weird Al-style parodist; his albums are skewed singer/songwriter pop/rock with a strong jazz influence, which just happen to have funny lyrics.
Mull was born in Chicago in 1943. Somewhat surprisingly given his later success as a performing artist, Mull originally trained to be a painter. After receiving a master's degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967 and studying in Italy, Mull settled in the Boston area and became involved in the local improvisational comedy and folk music scenes to supplement his income while continuing his painting career. Eventually forming a full band called Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture (which at one point included future Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes), Mull signed to the fledgling Capricorn label in 1972; his self-titled debut was one of the imprint's first releases. Although Martin Mull is an excellent album nestled somewhere between Warren Zevon and Leon Redbone, widespread commercial success seemed unlikely. A live album called Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room!! showed that the idiosyncratic performer was developing quite the cult following, based on the enthusiastic audience at this gig. The live album also provides an outlet for Mull's standup comedy skills, as some of the song introductions go on longer than the songs themselves.
Mull released two more albums on Capricorn, 1973's Normal, and 1974's Days of Wine and Neurosis, which broke little new ground commercially but refined his style. His music was becoming considerably more jazz-based -- much of Days of Wine and Neurosis has a definite Fats Waller feel -- and his lyrics more bizarre and cutting. Unfortunately, his sales remained minimal, and Capricorn dropped him, only to release the compilation No Hits, Four Errors: The Best of Martin Mull, following his television success.
Just after a one-off album on Vanguard, 1975's stripped-down In the Soop, Mull's career took a much different turn when he was hired as wife-beating villain Garth Gimble on Norman Lear's satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Although Mull's character was quickly killed off -- speared to death on a Christmas tree -- he was popular enough that Lear created a spin-off for Mull, a deadpan parody of local TV talk shows called Fernwood 2-Night, starring Mull as smarmy Barth Gimble and Fred Willard as his dense co-host. The show was never more than a cult favorite, but it was popular enough to get Mull a new recording deal with ABC Records. 1977's I'm Everyone I Ever Loved basically picks up where Days of Wine and Neurosis left off, but 1978's Sex and Violins is a full-fledged orchestral album in the tradition of Frank Sinatra's albums with Nelson Riddle, arranged and produced by Frank DeVol, a noted composer of television themes who played bandleader Happy Kyne on Fernwood 2-Night. Although the entire enterprise is dripping with irony, from Harry Shearer's opening remarks as an ABC Records spokesman onwards, there's also an obvious love of the style on display.
ABC Records imploded not long after the release of Sex and Violins, and Mull signed to Elektra for what would prove to be his final album, 1979's Near Perfect/Perfect. A return to the low-key pop/rock style of his first two records, it's also the most overtly comedic of Mull's albums. After this, Mull returned to his first love, painting, scoring numerous one-man shows at museums around the world, supplementing his work with medium-profile television acting and writing gigs. In 1998, Rhino released the two-disc set Mulling It Over, collecting the best material from Mull's four Capricorn albums.
Martin Mull (born August 18, 1943) is an American actor who has appeared in many television and film roles. He is also a comedian, painter, and recording artist.
Early years and education 
Mull was born in Chicago, Illinois, and moved with his family to North Ridgeville, Ohio, when he was two years old. They stayed there until he was 15 years old, when his family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where he attended and graduated from public high school. He studied painting and went on to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in painting.
Acting career 
Mull's first famous acting role was as twins Garth and Barth Gimble in the 1976 television nighttime absurdist soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. This led to work in the spin-off comedy talk shows Fernwood 2 Night (1977) and America 2-Night (1978), in which he played Barth Gimble as talk show host, opposite Fred Willard as sidekick Jerry Hubbard.
In 1979, he appeared in the Taxi episode "Hollywood Calling". Mull created, wrote for and starred in the short-lived 1984 CBS sitcom Domestic Life, with Megan Follows playing his teenaged daughter. In one episode of The Golden Girls, he played a hippie who was afraid of the outside world. He had a long-running role as Leon Carp, Roseanne Conner's gay boss (and later business partner) on the TV series Roseanne.
During the 1980s, Mull starred in a series of commercials for Michelob and Pizza Hut, and in a series of television and radio commercials for Red Roof Inn (a chain of budget-oriented hotels). He appeared in the Pecos Bill episode of the Shelley Duvall TV series Tall Tales & Legends. Mull voiced the role of The Evil Cad on the 1995-97 animated series Freakazoid! He also did the voice of Vlad Masters/Vlad Plasmius, the main villain in Danny Phantom.
Mull has appeared as a guest star on the game show Hollywood Squares, appearing as the center square in the show's final season, from 2003 to 2004. In late 2004, he portrayed Gene Parmesan, a private investigator, on the TV series Arrested Development. During 2008 and 2009, Mull guest starred in two episodes of the television series Gary Unmarried as Allison's father.
Films FM (1978) as Eric SwanSerial (1980) as Harvey HolroydMy Bodyguard (1980) as Mr. PeacheTake This Job and Shove It (1981) as Dick EbersolMr. Mom (1983) as Ron RichardsonBad Manners (aka: Growing Pains) (1984)Clue (1985) as Colonel MustardO.C. and Stiggs (1985) as Pat ColettiRented Lips (1988) as Archie PowellSki Patrol (1990) as Sam MarrisFar Out Man (1990) as Dr. LeddledickMrs. Doubtfire (1993) as Justin GregoryHow the West Was Fun (1994) as Bart GifooleyJingle All the Way (1996) as D.J.Richie Rich's Christmas Wish (1998) Richard Rich Sr.Relative Strangers (2006) as Jeffry MortonKillers (2010) as HolbrookOliver's Ghost (2011) as Clive Rutledge
Television Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (as Garth Gimble; 1976–1977)Fernwood 2 Night (as Barth Gimble; 1977)It's Garry Shandling's ShowThe History of White People in America (as Himself; 1985)The Golden Girls (as Jimmy; 1990)Roseanne (as Leon Carp; 1991–1997)Family Dog (TV series)The Simpsons (as Seth, 1998 in the episode 'D'ohin' in the Wind')Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (as Willard Kraft; 1997–2000)The Ellen ShowReba (2003 episode "Encounters") (as Dr. Todd)Family Guy episode "If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'" (as Mr. Harris)American Dad! (as Father Donovan)The War at HomeDanny Phantom (as Vlad Plasmius/Vlad Masters)Arrested Development (as Gene Parmesan)Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (as Gideon Hutton, 2008)My Boys episode "Opportunity Knocks" (as Dr. Clayton)Two and a Half Men (as Russell, the pharmacist; 2008–2013)The Larry Sanders Show (as himself)'Til DeathPsych episode "100 clues" (Season 7, Episode 5)Dads (as Crawford; 2013)"Reno 911" (as Jim Kringle; 2004)
Musical career 
Throughout the 1970s, and especially in the first half of the decade, Mull had a career as a musical comedian, performing satirical and humorous songs both live and in recordings. Notable live gigs included opening for Randy Newman and Sandy Denny at Boston Symphony Hall in 1973,Frank Zappa at Austin's Armadillo World Headquarters in 1973 and for Bruce Springsteen at the Shady Grove Music Fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in October 1974. His self-titled debut Album, released by Capricorn in 1972, featured many note-worthy musicians, including Ramblin Jack Elliott, Levon Helm from The Band, Keith Spring of NRBQ and Libby Titus.
Discography Martin Mull (1972)"Dueling Tubas" (Single) charted at #92 on Billboard's Hot 100 (1973)Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture In Your Living Room! (1973)Normal (1974)In The Soop With Martin Mull (also with: Ed Wise and Les Daniels) (1974)Days Of Wine And Neuroses (1975)I'm Everyone I've Ever Loved (1977)No Hits, Four Errors- The Best Of Martin Mull (1977)Sex & Violins (1978)Near Perfect/Perfect (1979)Mulling it Over- A Musical Ouvre-View of Martin Mull (1998)
"Dancing about Architecture" 
Elvis Costello attributes the well-known phrase "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" to Martin Mull.
Artistic career 
Mull has been a painter since the 1970s, and has had his work appear in group and solo exhibits throughout that time. His work often combines photorealist painting, and the pop art and collage styles. He published a book of some of his paintings, entitled Paintings Drawings and Words, in 1995. One of his paintings was used on the cover for the 2008 Joyce Carol Oates novel My Sister, My Love. Another painting, owned by Steve Martin entitled After Dinner Drinks (2008), was used for the cover of Love Has Come For You, an album by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.
Personal life 
Twice divorced, Mull is married to singer Wendy Haas. The two have a daughter, Maggie.
In a 2010 interview on The Green Room with Paul Provenza, Mull identifies himself as an atheist, saying "I certainly don't begrudge someone else their choice to follow whatever they do, it's just for me, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I think more harm has come to this planet through organized religion, probably, than any single situation that we've invented."