Born in Iran to an Armenian family and raised in Iraq, where he worked for a film distributor as a teenager, Martin moved to the U.S. to study economics at NYU, then gravitated to the film department, where he met Scorsese in 1961. Soon after, he began working with the director on some of his early films such as the 1964 short “It’s Not Just You, Murray,” then on Scorsese’s feature debut, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” and documentary “Italianamerican.”
Screenwriter Howard Rodman was among those who recalled his career.
My friend and colleague Mardik Martin died this morning. You may know him for his writing in Mean Streets, Raging Bull, New York New York.
To say that Mardik was one of a kind is a wild understatement. No one—no one—will ever fill those shoes.
May he rest in well-earned peace. pic.twitter.com/ETKBXeiy5b
— Howard A. Rodman (@howardrodman) September 12, 2019
As writer Peter Biskind recounted in “The New Hollywood,” “The two young men sat in Martin’s Valiant and wrote. In the winter, in the cold and snow.”
Martin co-wrote 1973’s “Mean Streets” with Scorsese, then co-wrote “New York, New York” with Earl Mac Rauch. After moving to Hollywood, Martin worked for Chartoff-Winkler Productions, for whom he wrote Ken Russell’s “Valentino.”
Though “The Last Waltz,” Scorsese’s 1978 film on the Band’s final concert, was a documentary, Martin worked on writing the treatment as he did for Scorsese’s documentary “American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince.”
For the 1980 “Raging Bull,” Martin spent a year and a half researching boxer Jake LaMotta’s life and co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Schrader, earning a Golden Globe nomination. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2007, “De Niro wanted to make ‘Raging Bull,’ but Marty didn’t [because] he hated boxing and sports.”
Until he found a second wind as writing professor at NYU and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Martin had a difficult period during which he became addicted to cocaine and lost out on writing jobs such as “Carlito’s Way.”
His last screenplay credit was for Fatih Akin’s 2014 “The Cut.”
A documentary about his life, “Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood,” was made in 2008.
Martin is survived by his sister Violet Asadoorian, his brother-in-law Papken Asadoorian, his nephew and his wife Mr. and Mrs. Shant Artine, his niece Maral Asadoorian and his grandnieces Tara and Emma Asadoorian.
Services are pending at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made in his name to the Armenian Relief Society/Mayr Chapter for Mardik Martin Education Fund, P.O. Box 27863, Hollywood, CA 90027.