“TOGA!” This is one of John Belushi’s most famous movie lines. In his short life, Belushi was remembered for so many things. He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live and was known for his over-the-top energy while performing. While dazzling audiences on SNL, he took over the big screen aswell. John Belushi lives on in his effortless performances and will never be forgotten.
John Adam Belushi was born January 24, 1949 in Chicago Illinois. Both of his parents were Albanian immigrants who raised him and his younger brother, Jim, in Wheaton, Illinois. Growing up, John was very popular. He was the co-captain of his high school football team and homecoming king in his senior year of high school. Though he was planning to become a football coach, his drama teacher encouraged him to pursue a career in acting. After his graduation in 1967, Belushi attended the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater where he became rebellious his freshman year. Soon enough, he dropped out and began attending the College of DuPage. John Belushi began his comedic acting at a few small companies and then went on to be a part of Chicago’s “Second City” ensemble in 1971, where he performed six nights a week (John Belushi).
Belushi got his big break when he was invited by Lorne Michaels to join the cast of a new show called Saturday Night Live (John Belushi Biography). The show was an entirely new concept to the public and became a huge hit. Other cast members included Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase. IMDb stated, “The unpredictable, aggressively physical style of humor that he began on ‘Second City’ flowered on SNL.” People were drawn to him and his outrageous personality, including his wife whom he married in 1976. Some of his popular characters on SNL were a samurai, a bee, and a conehead. He made his film debut in Goin’ South, a box office flop directed by and starring Jack Nicholson. It was on the set of this movie that John Landis, a director, noticed Belushi’s talent and cast him as Bluto in National Lampoon’s Animal House (John Belushi). Animal House was the years top-grossing comedy and is still known as one of the funniest movies of all time. Even though Belushi had a supporting role in the movie, he stole the show with his crazy behavior as a college fraternity member. It was in Animal House that Belushi chanted, “TOGA! TOGA!” one of his most famous lines. John Belushi quit SNL in 1979 with his good friend Dan Aykroyd. The following year John and Dan starred together in The Blues Brothers, playing brothers Jake and Elwood Blues who play in a blues band. The characters were based off of a Saturday Night Live skit the duo performed together (John Belushi Biography).
At this time, John Belushi’s drug use was spiraling out of control. His wife became worried, even though he promised he’d quit someday (John Belushi). In one of his last films, Neighbors, he starred alongside Dan Aykroyd again in 1981. The night before his death, he was partying with big-name actors such as Robin Williams. On March 5, 1982 Belushi was found dead at age 33 in his hotel room at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. His cause of death was a lethal injection of cocaine and heroine, a “speedball” (John Belushi Biography). John Belushi is buried in Martha’s Vineyard.
Biography.com said, “While Belushi has been gone for more than twenty years, the characters he created and the performances he gave are still being enjoyed by his fans.” People still watch and enjoy John Belushi’s movies today. People Magazine named him one of television’s top twenty-five stars in 1989 (John Belushi Biography). John truely made every character he played come to life and dominated every performance. Though he died too young, John Belushi lived a full life and transformed comedy into what it is today.