Belushi achieved national fame for his work on Saturday Night Live, which he joined as an original cast member in 1975. Between seasons of the show, he made one of his best-known movies, Animal House. As several Belushi biographies have noted[specify], on John's 30th birthday (in 1979), he had the number one film in the U.S. (Animal House), the number one album in the U.S. (The Blues Brothers: Briefcase Full of Blues) and Saturday Night Live was the highest-rated late night television program.
When interviewed for retrospectives on John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd told stories of John often finishing SNL rehearsals, shows or film shoots and, exhausted, simply walking unannounced into nearby homes of friends or strangers, scrounging around for food and often falling asleep, unable to be located for the following day's work. This was the impetus for the SNL horror-spoof sketch "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave", in which Belushi torments a couple (played by Jane Curtin and Bill Murray) in their home looking for snacks, newspapers and magazines to read, and taking control of their television. In an unfortunate foreshadowing, during the opening of the episode of SNL that aired on December 17, 1977, Belushi, while in character as himself, quipped, "I plan to be dead by the time I'm 30." SNL also featured a short film by writer Tom Schiller called "Don't Look Back In Anger", where Belushi, playing himself as an old man and the last-surviving SNL cast member, visits the graves of his now-former cast members. Belushi was the first SNL cast member to die.
Belushi left Saturday Night Live in 1979 to pursue a film career. Belushi would make four more movies; three of them, 1941, Neighbors, and most notably The Blues Brothers were made with fellow SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd.
On March 5, 1982, Belushi was found dead in his room at Bungalow number 3 of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. The cause of death was a speedball; the combined injection of cocaine and heroin. On the night of his death, he was visited separately by friends Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, each of whom left the premises, leaving Belushi in the company of assorted others, including Cathy Smith. His death was investigated by forensic pathologist Dr. Ryan Norris among others, and while the findings were disputed, it was officially ruled a drug-related accident.
Two months later, Smith admitted in an interview with the National Enquirer that she had been with Belushi the night of his death and had given him the fatal speedball shot. After the appearance of the article "I Killed Belushi" in the Enquirer edition of June 29, 1982, the case was reopened. Smith was extradited from Toronto, arrested and charged with first-degree murder. A plea bargain reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter, and she served 15 months in prison.
Shortly before his death, he filmed a cameo for the comedy series Police Squad!. At the suggestion of the show's producer, Robert K. Weiss, Belushi was filmed, face down in a swimming pool, dead. The footage was part of a running gag where the episode's guest-star wouldn't survive past the opening credits without meeting some gruesome end. The scene was cut after his death and the footage is believed to have been lost.
Belushi and his friend Dan Aykroyd were slated to present the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 54th Academy Awards, an event held less than four weeks after his death.
Belushi is interred in Abel's Hill Cemetery on Martha's Vineyard Chilmark, Massachusetts. His tombstone, a New England classic slate design, complete with skull and crossbones, reads "I may be gone but Rock and Roll lives on." Rumor has it that his gravestone is not above his body because it was moved after operators of the cemetery had found many signs of vandalism and rowdiness where his body lies. He also is remembered on the Belushi family stone marking his mother's grave at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois. This stone says "He Gave Us Laughter"
Posted by wino at Friday, January 28, 2011