Also affectionately known as "America's Guest", John Adam Belushi
(January 24, 1949 — March 5, 1982) was a Chicago-born
actor and comedian. He rose to fame in 1971, after joining the Second City comedy troupe, where he became well known for his impersonations of Joe Cocker, resulting in his being cast in National Lampoon's Lemmings
, a parody of Woodstock
. It was while he was with the National Lampoon that John would meet fellow future Saturday Night Live
regulars such as Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray
, and Brian Doyle-Murray
. His highschool sweetheart — whom he married — Judith Jacklin, also worked for National Lampoon — and as a fun fact, can be seen dancing with him in Animal House
In 1975, John Belushi was accepted into Saturday Night Live
, alongside Dan Aykroyd
, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. (In fact, Belushi was the first Not Ready For Prime-Time Player to appear in the show, as part of the first episode's first sketch.) From here, he went on to work with Dan Aykroyd on a film based off their already highly successful musical act and band, The Blues Brothers
, which gained cult status, and a gross revenue of $115,229,890. John and Dan worked together in two other movies, 1941
, and Neighbors
Belushi is hailed as a benevolent figure, often lending a helping hand to any who needed it. This ranged from aiding his little brother, Jim
, in getting started in comedy, through to helping friends setting up businesses, and delivering an epiphany speech to Tim Kazurinsky (a cast member during Dick Ebersol's era who often felt frustrated and underused about being on the show due to the Spotlight-Stealing Squad
that was Eddie Murphy
and Joe Piscopo) and assisting him in getting help when the stress of working at Saturday Night Live
became too much. He is also credited with choosing music for The Blues Brothers
because he thought the original artists could do with the royalties.
Unfortunately, he didn't survive the lifestyle of the entertainment industry. John Belushi passed away on March 5 1982, following the administration of a cocaine-heroin mix known as a "speedball" (making that famous SNL
short film about John Belushi being the last
cast member to die and visiting the graves of his former cast members very cringeworthy
to modern sensesnote
). Former singer Cathy Smith later came forward, and was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Belushi's legacy lives on, however. He has since been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aykroyd also affectionately refers to Slimer in Ghostbusters
as, "the ghost of John Belushi". note
Further, John's work still draws audiences and provides an influence to young and upcoming comedy talent.
Some of the films he appeared in includes:
This Actor Provides Tropes of:
- Acrofatic: Chubby guy, but he could really dance, as well as engage in physical comedy such as his Joe Cocker impersonation and the "Little Chocolate Donuts" sketch.
- Biopic: As of 2014, he has been the only SNL castmember to be the basis of a biopic, the 1988 film Wired starring Michael Chiklis. It was lambasted as a hatchet job by just about everyone who knew him, many of whom refused to let their names be used. Chiklis would later blame the film for derailing his career until The Commish pulled it back into place.
- He Really Can Act: In Continental Divide he plays a romantic lead who's a far cry from his usual "frat boy" characters, and is surprisingly convincing, leading many of his fans to speculate that if he'd lived longer he could have used the film to continue stretching his range and be remembered for far more than he is. According to people who worked on the film, he was abstaining from drug use during the shoot, which may have had something to do with it.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Dan Aykroyd.
- Nice Guy: He was apparently very benevolent and generous.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Dan Aykroyd's red.
- Sad Clown