Saturday night live first took to the air in 1975 with a cast of unknown comedians. Today, almost everyone who starred in that first season is a household name. While the show seemed to be going smoothly for the most part, tensions flared up backstage. One fight in particular actually saw a fight between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Chase blames John Belushi for the fight.
Over the years, whispering of Chase’s insults and arguments has become the norm. However, at a young age Saturday night livehe quickly became one of the show’s most popular comedians. Chase starred in the original version of weekend update, and his constant appearances in sketches contributed to his rise to fame. He left just over a year later SNL Premiere starred in the first episode of season 2 but missed the second and third episodes due to an injury. Chase returned for another three episodes after recovering before finally leaving the show.
Chase’s exit from the show left many cast members with a bad taste in their mouths. They felt like his departure was more of an abandonment after they all worked so hard for it Saturday night live from the soil.
In the book by Tom Shales and Andrew Miller Live from New York: The Complete, Uncensored Story of Saturday Night Live, Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, says Murray, “I think they resented him for taking some of the success and leaving and launching his own career. All the others came from the world of improvisation, where you couldn’t bring yourself to do it. You were an ensemble, you were a company. There was resentment about it when he left. It was a shock.”
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When Chase returned to hosing down Saturday Night Live In season three, he and Murray got into a physical altercation. Tensions ran high when he returned due to various factors. For one, the current cast members felt a grudge against Chase. Second, Chase claims he found out that John Belushi was spreading “apocryphal stories” about him “out of jealousy and anger or whatever about Billy Murray.”
Chase blames Belushi for the fight with Murray and agrees Live from New York, “In a way, John caused this fight with Billy, but we both accidentally punched John. Billy was out of line. I was to some extent out of line – certainly in Billy’s mind, triggered by the things that Lorne [Michaels] told me about it later. So Billy came after me and tried to distract me a bit just before I went on the air.”
Chase continues, “Ultimately, Billy is still Billy and I’m still me, but that didn’t put me off for the show. I sure was upset, but I noticed John as I walked into Billy’s dressing room, and John was like Cheshire Cat – he sat there like he’d accomplished his mission.”
Everyone knows it’s 20/20 in hindsight, and that includes Chase. He later admits that he was partly to blame for the fight with Murray.
“As I left, I realized that maybe I hadn’t been such a great guy. Maybe we weren’t that close. Maybe I’d been a bit of an asshole. I left with self-doubt,” says Chase.
Though he admits his mistakes, Chase remains one of the few people forbidden from ever hosting Saturday night live. Complaints from cast members about verbal abuse mounted, and an incident in which he hit Cheri Oteri on the back of the head earned him a lifetime hosting ban.
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