John Belushi

John Belushi


1/24/1949, Chicago, Illinois



Birth Name

John Adam Belushi


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37 votes


When John Belushi joined the Chicago-based Second City improv troupe in 1971, he was twenty-one years old and had no experience in a touring company, but yet, audiences immediately singled him out for future stardom. In hot pursuit of a career in the entertainment field, John performed comedy…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • John's guerrilla comic techniques were reportedly inspired by the 1968 Democratic Convention riots in Chicago, and he was among the few performers who could successfully exploit violence and social upheaval as a source of humor.

    • John's most celebrated comic creations included the fish-out-of-water Samurai warrior; the "cheeseburger, cheeseburger" short-order cook; and -- with fellow Saturday Night Live cast member and close friend Dan Aykroyd -- the ultra-hip Blues Brothers.

    • John was frustrated by the media's concentration on Saturday Night Live co-star Chevy Chase during the show's maiden season, but fully came into his own once Chase left in 1976.

    • John, as Bluto, the beer-besotted fraternity goof in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), was grossly uproarious, almost single-handedly launching a nationwide collegiate craze for toga parties.

    • John has had three books written about him: Bob Woodward's Wired (1984), his widow Judith Jacklin Belushi's "answer" to Woodward, Samurai Widow (1990), and Belushi (2005), written by since remarried wife Judith Belushi Pisano, along with Tanner Colby.

    • John many times displayed misogynic behavior during his years (1975-78) as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, openly stating he believed that women weren't funny. He often times urged producer Lorne Michaels to fire all the female writers, and several times threatened to resign if they weren't.

    • John watched an Armand Assante movie at the Playboy Mansion with Hugh Hefner, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and comedy star/writer Buck Henry, two weeks prior to his death. To make the others laugh during the screening, Belushi crept down the aisle to Hefner's home entertainment room front set and began sneaking popcorn from his bowl. When Hugh would unknowingly reach over for a snack, there would be less and less each time.

    • John replaced Brian Doyle-Murray, older brother of soon-to-be fellow Saturday Night Live cast member Bill Murray, when he joined the Second City improv troupe in 1971.

    • John always studied footage of those he was set to impersonate during the week prior to his performances on Saturday Night Live. He repeatedly watched tapes of whoever he was to impersonate, not just to memorize their voice and mannerisms, but to examine their wardrobe, hair, and makeup as well.

    • John, along with his friends, Tino Insana and Steve Beshakes, started a restaurant cleaning service to make money while attending college. When the business failed, they formed an improv group and played local (DuPage, Illinois) schools, coffee houses, and churches.

    • John's untimely death in 1982 prompted the formation of the John Belushi/Second City Scholarship Fund created to help aspiring young Chicago performers, established in Belushi's name during Second City's 25th anniversary celebration. It was at this kick-off benefit that Saturday Night Live producers Brandon Tartikoff and Dick Ebersol watched Belushi's younger brother, Jim, perform and later hired him for the 1983-84 SNL season.

    • John was the last of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players to be hired for the first season of the NBC comedy series, Saturday Night Live.

    • John nearly burned Saturday Night Live producer Dick Ebersol's house down when he fell asleep with a cigarette going, while spending the night at Ebersol's place. Belushi did the same thing while staying at SNL producer Lorne Michael's home, causing extensive damage.

    • John accidentally sliced guest host Buck Henry's forehead with his prop sword during a Saturday Night Live Samurai Warrior sketch. Henry appeared in the next sketch with a Band-Aid on the laceration, and for the remainder of the program, all the cast members donned similar bandages on their heads.

    • John and fellow Saturday Night Live cast member, Jane Curtin, became "arch enemies," even to the point of studio shouting matches, while working together on SNL, as she was least willing to laugh off his chauvinism, his tantrums, and his lack of professionalism.

    • John and fellow cast member, Dan Aykroyd, shared a Saturday Night Live studio office in the Rockefeller Center complex, a well-run, pristine establishment whose barren walls they nailed female fans' panties to.

    • John's friend and fellow Saturday Night Live cast member, Dan Aykroyd, gave him two nicknames: The Black Hole in Space, because if anything got near him, it disappeared, and America's Guest, because he literally could go to anybody's house or apartment–and did–and use whatever he wanted.

    • John was offered $6,000 to perform his Joe Cocker impersonation at a birthday party for Paul McCartney, an offer he happily accepted.

    • John was very well-read in English, history, and theater, many times astounding people with his references to English literature, American literature, and politics.

    • John, terribly shaken upon hearing of the death of Elvis Presley, was unable to move or talk for a full ten minutes.

    • John was offered a guest shot on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that promised to be developed into a character role, but even though he was one of Mary Tyler Moore's biggest fans, Belushi turned down the offer, purposely wanting to be political and outrageous.

    • John made $750 a week during his first year on Saturday Night Live.

    • John's Saturday Night Live Samurai Warrior sketches were based on the samurai films of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune.

    • John's death was eerily foreshadowed in a Saturday Night Live sketch about giant lobsters attacking New York when guest host Robert Klein was heard to say, 'Oh, John Belushi is dead! We knew he'd die young, but not this young!'

    • John's favorite television programs growing up were The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, the same two programs that were his fellow Saturday Night Live cast member Dan Aykroyd's favorites as well.

    • In a Saturday Night Live sketch he stated that he is completly against drugs, which is ironic because he would die of an over dose later on in his life.

    • John was in the very first sketch on Saturday Night Live.

    • John and Dan Akroyd used to perform as a 'warm-up' band for the waiting audiences on Saturday Night Live in the their early days, backed by the SNL band, doing blues & R&B riffs. Their act soon made it to the air as the 'Bles Brothers', and the duo assumed the identites of Elwood (Akroyd) and Jake (Belushi). They started to wear their trademark dark sunglasses and suits, and were back by a group that included former Booker T & the M.G's guitarist Steve 'The Colonel' Cropper and bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn.

    • John was offered a job with National Lampoon's Lemmings and syndicated Radio Hour in 1972.

    • John's widow, Jackie wrote a book about him that 'answered' the controversial Bob Woodward biography, Wired, titled Samuri Widow.

    • John's big screen debut was a small role in the Jack Nicholson Western, Goin' South in 1978.

    • John was the youngest-ever performer to appear in 'Second City''s "Main Stage" productions, in the early 1970's.

    • John's widow is now remarried, Judy Belushi Pisano.

    • John was good friends with 'The Grateful Dead', and was especially close with Jerry Garcia. He performed with them a few times in the late 19070's, and their song 'West L.A. Fadeaway' is about John's death.

    • John is buried in Abel's Hill Cemetery in Chilmark, Massachusetts. His headstone reads: 'I may be gone, but rock n roll lives on.'

    • John was known through Hollywood for his hard partying ways. On the night of his death, he was partying with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, who left earlier in the evening, leaving John with Cathy Smith.

    • Dan Akroyd wrote the parts of 'Dr. Peter Venkman' in Ghostbusters, and 'Emmett Fitz-Hume' in Spies Like us for John. The roles went to former Satyrday Night Live castmates Bill Murray & Chevy Chase.

    • John was pursuing several different roles at the time of his death, including Sweet Deception, Noble Rot, Moon Over Miami, and The Joy Of Sex.

    • John left Saturday Night Live in 1979 to pursue a career in movies, ending up with three of them being with friend Dan Akroyd: 1941, Neighbors, and The Blues Brothers.

    • John had a few milestones on his 30th birthday in 1979. He had the number one film in the United States,(Animal House), the number one album in the United States ('Briefcase Full Of Blues'), and Saturday Night Live was the highest-rated late night television show.

    • John met his future wife, Judy, while he was in tenth grade. They stayed together until his death.

    • His characters include Samurai Futaba Captain Ned, Jake 'Joliet' Blues, Jeff Widette, Kevin, Kuldorth, Larry Farber, Lowell Brock, Matt Cooper, Pete, and Steve Bushakis.

    • His impressions include Al Hirt, Babe Ruth, Bert Lance, Cesar Romero, Dino De Laurentiis, Ed Ames, Ed Asner, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Franklin Roosevelt,
      Fred Silverman, George Wallace, Henry Kissinger, Jack Kerouac, Jawaharlal Nehru,
      Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Cocker, John Lennon, Leonid Brezhnev, Marlon Brando, Menachim Begin, Rasputin, Richard Daley, Robert Blake, Roy Orbison, Sam Peckinpah, Steve Rubell, Sun Myung Moon, Tip O'Neil, Truman Capote, Woody Hayes, and Yasser Arafat.

    • Ironically he did a sketch on Saturday Night Live where he is an old man going to everyone elses grave, and ironically he was the first of the original cast member to die.

    • Chris Farley was a huge fan of Johns and ended up sharing his fate.

    • John was found dead in a hotel room at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California on March 5, 1982.

    • John's father was an immigrant from Qytezë.

    • In the movie Animal House, when John Belushi downs the whole bottle of whiskey. The directors had created a way to so that the whiskey would have been poured down the back of his shirt. However, John told them that he could down the whole bottle and that was declared the very last scene shot that day with him in it.

    • John has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    • John's biography Wired was made into a movie that was boycotted by Dan Akroyd, Jim Belushi, and his wife.

    • John's life is detailed in the 1985 biography Wired: The Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi. The book is written by Bob Woodward.

    • The epitaph on John's tombstone reads "He made us laugh, and now he makes us think".

    • John's favorite commedianne was Lucille Ball.

    • The part of 'Dr. Peter Venkman' in 1984's movie Ghostbusters was written for John. The part ended up being Bill Murray's after John died.

    • John started the Blues Brothers Bar down the street from the Second City in the late 1970's.

    • James Taylor sang The Lonesome Road at John's memorial service at Martha's Vineyard Cemetery.

    • At the time of his death, John was re writing a script called Noble Rot.

    • John's drug user/dealer companion was charged in his death, for providing the drugs that killed him. She was given three years in prison.

    • In the Toga party scene in Animal House , the uncredited co-ed dancing with John is his wife.

    • John bought his father a Ranch house, and helped set up several of his Chicago friends with their own businesses.

    • John started to get into heavy drugs in 1973, beginning with Cocaine.

    • John appeared in Goin' South in 1975, with Jack Nicholson, where he was noticed by director John Landis.

    • John joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1975, and became a recognized star.

    • John was hired in 1971 to write for the syndicated National Lampoon's Radio Hour.

    • In 1971, John started to attend the famous Second City Ensemble. He performed there six nights a week, perfecting his physical comedy routine.

    • While attending College of Du Page, a junior college a few mile from his parents home, John helped found the West Compass Players, an Improv comedy troupe.

    • After John graduated high school, he performed in Summer Stock , in Indianna. He played roles ranging from a comic detective in Ten Little Indians to Cardinal Wolsey in Anne of A Thousand Days.

    • John developed an interest in acting in high school, and was encouraged by his drama teacher to focus on acting, rather than football. John took his advice after appearing in a school variety show.

    • John was planning a career as a football coach when he was in high school.

    • John was co-captain of his high school football team.

  • Quotes

    • John: (expressing his feelings about TV as a medium to producer Lorne Michaels during his interview for 'Saturday Night Live') My television has spit all over it.

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    What more can be said about John Belushi other than that he was one of the top comedic actors of his time? Well, you could say that he passed away way before he should have. The man was not only a wonderful stand-up comic, but he was also an amazing actor. He will never be forgotten.