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John Belushi

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John Belushi

John Adam Belushi (January 24, 1949 – March 5, 1982) was an American comedian, actor, and singer. Belushi is best known for his “intense energy and raucous attitude”[1] which he displayed as one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). Throughout his career, Belushi had a close personal and artistic partnership with his fellow SNL star Dan Aykroyd, whom he met while they were both working at Chicago’s The Second City comedy club.[2]

Born in Chicago to Albanian American parents, Belushi started his own successful comedy troupe with Tino Insana and Steve Beshekas, called “The West Compass Trio”. Belushi performed with The Second City after Bernard Sahlins discovered him. He met Brian Doyle-Murray and Harold Ramis there and also met Aykroyd, who later become one of his close associates.

In 1975, Belushi was recommended to SNL creator/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 notable performances such as Henry Kissinger and Ludwig van Beethoven. After his breakout and best-known film role as John “Bluto” Blutarsky, the lead in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Belushi later took an interest 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.

In his personal life, Belushi struggled with heavy drug use that affected his comedy career, and was dismissed and rehired by Michaels on several occasions due to his behavior. In 1982, Belushi died from combined drug intoxication caused by an injection of a heroin and cocaine mixture, known as a speedball. He was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. 

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