John Belushi

John Belushi in Animal House

John Belushi in “Animal House”

To call John Belushi a comic legend would be a bit of an overstatement, and yet for some reason, it’s a suitable title for the happy-go-lucky “SNL” veteran. Because his skyrocketing film career was abruptly ended by his untimely death at the hands of what many called an “addiction,” John Belushi never even got the chance to build the legacy that people refer to today. Born in 1949, John was far from becoming a comic superstar at a young age, instead excelling in sports (football) and music (percussion) throughout school, but after joining the comedy troupe Second City following graduation, he became the youngest headliner in the history of the group. It was performing with Second City that he was first noticed for his aggressive comic style – and his credits continued to grow when he was cast in National Lampoon’s production of “Lemmings” – but John’s ticket to stardom was officially stamped when he became one of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” Working alongside a number of other comic stars like Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray, John brought to life some of the best characters on the show, including Samurai Futaba and Jake Blues.

Following a four year stint on the show, John decided to make the jump to film by teaming up with his old National Lampoon cohorts for the college comedy “Animal House” in 1978. The film was a massive successive and John’s performance as Bluto made the character a college cult favorite. His star continued to rise when he and “SNL”-alum/friend Dan Aykroyd brought their Blues Brothers characters to the big screen with the 1982 musical of the same name, but despite his success, John’s personal life was getting out of control. On March 5th, 1982 – and only hours after a visit from fellow comic Robin Williams – John died at the age of 33 from a drug overdose of heroine and cocaine. And despite the anti-climatic ending to John’s career, he has forever remained a larger-than-life comic legend that is still highly revered and incredible influential to this very day.

John on the Screen

It’s a shame that John didn’t get the chance to become a bigger star than he had already become, but in only a few short years he rose from “SNL” headliner to comic legend with roles in the films “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” and “1941.” Before his untimely death, John also appeared in “Continental Divide” and “Neighbors.”

John Belushi on Video

Bluto’s big speech from “Animal House.”
Epic speech in the movie.

Bluto Shouts

On his success:
“I owe it all to little chocolate donuts.”