Martin Charnin grew up in New York City and attended the NY High School of Music and Arts before attending the Cooper Union. He graduated from the Cooper Union with a certificate in Art in 1955 and began a long career in the Theater Arts by performing in West Side Story where he was one of the Jets for 1000 performances. He wrote the music and lyrics for numerous off-Broadway and Broadway musicals. He was also a Broadway Director. He is world renown for creating, writing the lyrics for, and directing the musical, Annie.
In the early 1970s, he wrote and directed 6 television variety specials. He then returned to Broadway as a director. He continued working until his death in 2019.
He wrote songs recorded by Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Rod McKuen, Grace Jones, Jay-Z, Nancy Wilson, Andrea McArdle, Shelly Burch, and others.
- 1972 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy, Variety or Music-“S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Gershwin”
- 1972 Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program-Variety or Musical-Variety and Popular Music-“S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Gershwin”
- 1973 Peabody Award for Broadcasting-“S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Gershwin”
- 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Annie
- 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics – Annie
- 1977 Tony Award for Best Original Score – Annie
- 1999 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album -Songwriter- Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
- 2005 CUAA Augustus Saint-Gauden’s Award