While doing research on Saturday Night Live actors who have come and gone, I came across mention of an “SNL curse.” It's a modern version of an old theatre superstition; every wildly-successful show is destined to have cast members who die young and in tragic ways. I don't know about a “curse,” but there have been several Saturday Night Live actors whose lives and careers were sadly cut short. There are also several players who are still alive, but left the show without something it greatly needed. I suppose it doesn't matter how-or, in some cases, if-they died; the fact is that the show is less without them. I'm sure you can think of others, but here are 9 of the actors whose contributions are missed the most.
He was one of the most popular Saturday Night Live actors, both for his comedic and musical talents. Like many actors of his day, he got caught up in the “drug culture” of the late '70s. The clip above goes into more detail, but he died as a result of cocaine and heroin abuse.
One of the most well-known and, in my opinion, funniest '90s cast members is Chris Farley. While it was at least partly responsible for his departure from the show in 1995, his style of lowbrow humor found a home in movies like “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep.” Like many comedians, he idolized John Belushi; also like many comedians, though, he met his end through alcohol and drugs. The “Tragic Side of Comedy” series featured in the post above also has a clip about Farley.
This multi-talented actor's life was cut short in a bizarre turn of events that made the national news. He was one of those people who could make even the strangest and most random characters into a smash hit. His imitations and original characters-Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and The Anal-retentive Chef are among them-and his work on NewsRadio made him one of the most popular and versatile comedy actors of the time. This is a clip of a biopic that tells his story and showcases his talents better than I could.
Gilda was thought to be one of the funniest women on TV, but what I like is that her act is totally clean. I know the standards were different in the '70s than they are today, but she's a great example of how you don't have to swear or joke about sex to be funny. As part of the original cast, she got to work with the Muppets before they branched off. I've always wondered what it would be like to be the subject of one of Bunsen's experiments! She died from ovarian cancer in 1989. She was 42.
This isn't to say that his other work isn't missed, but the digital shorts are what a lot of people remember him for. Without them, I'd never have learned that cool guys don't look at explosions, Natalie Portman can rap and seeing Paul Rudd naked can be hazardous to your health. I love the “D*** in a Box” song with Justin Timberlake (he looks pretty damned good in that suit, by the way), but here's another one of my favorites.
Two words-Celebrity. Jeopardy. While the Spartan Spirit and the cowbell were funny, I can't get through a single clip of his portrayal of Alex Trebek without either tearing up or spitting tea all over my keyboard. I have no idea why they pick on Sean Connery so much, but their exchanges are hilarious. The only thing that keeps me from loving all of his other sketches is how overplayed that Haddaway song was; you can only take so much techno before you throw your radio against the wall.
She's only been away for a year or so, but already I miss her. Her celebrity impressions are priceless! I especially love the one she does of Barbie in the clip above. I did always wonder how she'd do all of those jobs without having full use of her arms.
I don't know about his acting, but the main things I miss are his cartoons. “Saturday TV Funhouse” would do all sorts of irreverent cartoons, mostly making pop-culture references and parodying existing shows. For instance, “Fun with Real Audio” would take excerpts from other shows (Sally Jessy Raphael talk shows, the OJ trial etc). He works with MadTV and Comedy Central, so at least they didn't completely fall off the face of the earth.
Well, I'll miss him, anyway. Since I don't stay up late enough to watch “late shows” during the week, Weekend Update was the only time I got to look at him. Now what will I do? Seriously, he's the one I'd have had a mad crush on in high school. Give me the class clown over the prom king any day.
The show has definitely made a lot of careers but, for some Saturday Night Live actors, that fame came at a price. I know I've missed some people, but it's hard to decide which actors to mention when talking about a show that's older than I am and has had so many different and talented players. Who were your favorites from Saturday Night Live? Which actors have you missed? Are there any you were glad to see go? Discuss!
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