Martin Short Opens Up About Losing His Wife Nancy Dolman to Cancer: 'It's So Tough'

Martin Short has had one hell of a career — but he also had a pretty great ride with his wife, actress Nancy Dolman

Photo: Patrick McMullan/Getty

Martin Short has had one hell of a career — but he also had a pretty great ride with his wife, actress Nancy Dolman, whom he lost to ovarian cancer in 2010 after 30 years of marriage together.

In a new cover story with AARP the magazine, the Father of the Bride star, 68 — who will be hosting the 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards airing on PBS on Feb. 15 — gets candid about what life has been like without her.

"Our marriage was a triumph," he says. "So it's tough. She died in 2010, but I still communicate with her all the time. It's 'Hey Nan,' you know?" he tells the magazine. "How would she react to this decision or that, especially regarding our three kids."


The couple, who have three children together — Henry, 30, Oliver, 27, and Katherine, 24 — first met in 1972 during the run of Godspell, and they married in 1980. While Short's film and TV career took off, Dolman took a break from acting to stay at home to raise the kids.

Short says that he still feels Dolman's presence around him. "I believe that when people die, they zoom into the people that love them," he tells the magazine. "The idea that it just ends, and don't speak of them — that's wrong….to me, she's still here."

Short — who is currently touring with his Saturday Night Live colleague and long-time friend Steve Martin ("Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life") — also says that Dolman's death also encouraged him to take more risks in life.

"With real tragedy, you become a little more daring," the Canadian native says. "It's the yin to the yang: the positive part of life's dark side."

As for whether he has anything risky on his bucket list, he says his main goal is to just stay happy.

"My life lists are more pragmatic," he says. "For decades, I've maintained a list according to several categories of well-being: health, family, friends, money, career, creativity, self-discipline and lifestyle. Periodically I give myself a report card…Health: Have I had my annual physical? Friends: Do I need to phone so-and-so?

He adds, "To me, life is a practical experience each day, with a coating of "Be as happy as you can be" on top."

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