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John Belushi Death

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

On March 5th, 1982, John Belushi, actor, comedian and singer, and one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, was found dead from a drug overdose, when he was injected a "Speedball", a mixture heroine and cocaine at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood.

In 1975, Belushi was recommended to SNL creator and showrunner Lorne Michaels by Chevy Chase and Michael O'Donoghue, who accepted Belushi as a new cast member of the show after an audition. He developed a series of characters on the show that reached high success, including his performances as Henry Kissinger and Ludwig van Beethoven. After his breakout film role as John Blutarsky in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Belushi later appeared in films such as 1941, The Blues Brothers, and Neighbors. He also pursued interests in music, creating with Aykroyd, Lou Marini, Tom Malone, Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Paul Shaffer, the "Blues Brothers", from which the film received its name. Here is an ABC News Promo announcing his shocking passing:

Belushi had managed to refrain from drug use for a brief period in 1981, but severely relapsed during the production of Neighbors. Less than four months after the shoot, the day before he died, he visited his long-time manager Bernie Brillstein and asked for money. Brillstein said no, strongly suspecting that Belushi wanted money for drugs. Later in the day, when Brillstein had another visitor, Belushi returned and again asked for money. Brillstein complied, reluctant to rebuke Belushi in front of another person. In the early morning hours on the day of his death, Belushi was visited separately by friends Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, as well as Catherine Evelyn Smith. Here is the newscast from that day:

Another news story after Belushi's death with more background on Saturday Night Live:

The Chateau Marmont has since become a famous landmark hotel in Hollywood and John Belushi has been forever linked to the hotel's lore, as Belushi spent his final hours at the Hotel.

An interview with Dan Ackroyd discussing his partnership with Belushi and some projects that were being planned at the time of Belushi's passing, including a Blues Brothers sequel and a role in the mega-hit film, "Ghostbusters" that Ackroyd was still in the process of writing at the time:

In an interview with the National Enquirer two months after Belushi’s death, Cathy Smith admitted that she had been with him at the Chateau Marmont on the night of his death and had given him the fatal speedball shot. After the appearance of the Enquirer article, the case was reopened. Smith was arrested, extradited from Ontario, Canada, and charged with first-degree murder. A plea bargain reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter, and she served fifteen months in prison. A short documentary clip gives more background and explanation about the details of Belushi's tragic fate:

Belushi's wife arranged for a traditional Orthodox Christian funeral that was conducted by an Albanian Orthodox priest. He was interred at Abel's Hill Cemetery in Chilmark, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard. Belushi's tombstone has a skull and crossbones with the inscription, "I may be gone but Rock and Roll lives on." His body was removed and reburied in an unmarked grave nearby due to fans littering on his original grave. His mother's tombstone at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois, has Belushi's name inscribed on it and thus serves as a cenotaph. He was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

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