Sunday, February 28, 2010

Comedian Lenny Bruce Overdosed on the Toilet

The "what should be" never did exist,
but people keep trying to live up to it.
There is no "what should be,"
there is only what is.
-- Lenny

Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966) was an extremely influential and controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s, whose comedy revolved heavily around the social stigmas and taboos of the era in which he lived. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history.

Early life

Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider in Mineola, New York, grew up in nearby Bellmore and attended Wellington C. Mepham High School.[7] His youth was chaotic; his parents divorced when he was five years old and Lenny moved in with various relatives over the next decade. His mother, Sally Marr (née Sadie Kitchenberg), was a stage performer who had an enormous influence on Bruce's career. After spending time working on a farm with a family that provided the stable surroundings he needed, Bruce joined the United States Navy at the age of 17 in 1942, and saw active duty in Europe until his discharge in 1946.

In 1947, soon after changing his last name to Bruce, he earned $12 and a free spaghetti dinner for his first stand-up performance in Brooklyn, New York. From that modest start, he got his first break as a guest (and introduced by his mother, who called herself "Sally Bruce") on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show, doing a "Bavarian mimic" of American movie stars (e.g., Humphrey Bogart).

In 1951, he was arrested in Miami, Florida, for impersonating a priest. He had been soliciting donations for a leper colony in British Guiana under the auspices of the "Brother Mathias Foundation", which he had legally chartered - the name was his own invention, but possibly referred to the actual Brother Matthias who had befriended Babe Ruth at the orphanage to which Ruth had been confined as a child. Bruce had stolen several priests' clergy shirts and a clerical collar while posing as a laundry man. He was found not guilty because of the legality of the New York state-chartered foundation, the actual existence of the Guiana leper colony, and the inability of the local clergy to expose him as an impostor. Later, in his semifictional autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, Bruce revealed that he had made approximately $8,000 in three weeks, sending $2,500 to the leper colony and keeping the rest.


Bruce's early comedy career included writing the screenplays for Dance Hall Racket in 1953, which featured himself, his wife, Honey Harlow, and mother, Sally Marr, in roles; Dream Follies in 1954, a low-budget burlesque romp; and a children's film, The Rocket Man, in 1954. He also released four albums of original material on Berkeley-based Fantasy Records, with rants, comic routines, and satirical interviews on the themes that made him famous: jazz, moral philosophy, politics, patriotism, religion, law, race, abortion, drugs, the Ku Klux Klan, and Jewishness. These albums were later compiled and re-released as The Lenny Bruce Originals. Two later records were produced and sold by Bruce himself, including a 10-inch album of the 1961 San Francisco performances that started his legal troubles. Starting in the late 1960s, other unissued Bruce material was released by Alan Douglas, Frank Zappa and Phil Spector, as well as Fantasy. Bruce developed the complexity and tone of his material in Enrico Banducci's North Beach nightclub, "The hungry i," where Mort Sahl had earlier made a name for himself.

His growing fame led to appearances on the nationally televised Steve Allen Show, where he made his debut with an unscripted comment on the recent marriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Eddie Fisher, wondering, "will Elizabeth Taylor become bar mitzvahed?" He also began receiving mainstream press, both favorable and derogatory. Syndicated Broadway columnist Hy Gardner called Bruce a "fad" and "a one-time-around freak attraction," while Variety declared him "undisciplined and unfunny." Influential San Francisco columnist Herb Caen, however, was an early and enthusiastic supporter, writing in 1959:

"They call Lenny Bruce a sick comic, and sick he is. Sick of all the pretentious phoniness of a generation that makes his vicious humor meaningful. He is a rebel, but not without a cause, for there are shirts that need un-stuffing, egos that need deflating. Sometimes you feel guilty laughing at some of Lenny's mordant jabs, but that disappears a second later when your inner voice tells you with pleased surprise, 'but that's true.'"

On February 3, 1961, in the midst of a severe blizzard, he gave a famous performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. It was recorded and later released as a three-disc set, titled The Carnegie Hall Concert. In the liner notes, critic Albert Goldman described it as follows:

"This was the moment that an obscure yet rapidly rising young comedian named Lenny Bruce chose to give one of the greatest performances of his career. The performance contained in this album is that of a child of the jazz age. Lenny worshipped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor and Free Association. He fancied himself an oral jazzman. His ideal was to walk out there like Charlie Parker, take that mike in his hand like a horn and blow, blow, blow everything that came into his head just as it came into his head with nothing censored, nothing translated, nothing mediated, until he was pure mind, pure head sending out brainwaves like radio waves into the heads of every man and woman seated in that vast hall. Sending, sending, sending, he would finally reach a point of clairvoyance where he was no longer a performer but rather a medium transmitting messages that just came to him from out there — from recall, fantasy, prophecy. A point at which, like the practitioners of automatic writing, his tongue would outrun his mind and he would be saying things he didn't plan to say, things that surprised, delighted him, cracked him up — as if he were a spectator at his own performance!"[8]

Legal troubles

On October 4, 1961, Bruce was arrested for obscenity[9] at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco; he had used the word "cocksucker" and riffed that "'to' is a preposition, 'come' is a verb," that the sexual context of "come" is so common that it bears no weight, and that if someone hearing it becomes upset, he "probably can't come." Although the jury acquitted him, other law enforcement agencies began monitoring his appearances, resulting in frequent arrests under charges of obscenity. The increased scrutiny also led to an arrest in Philadelphia, for drug possession the same year, and again in Los Angeles, California, two years later. The Los Angeles arrest took place in then-unincorporated West Hollywood, and the arresting officer was a young deputy named Sherman Block, who would later become County Sheriff.[10]

In April 1964, he appeared twice at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, with undercover police detectives in the audience. On both occasions, he was arrested after leaving the stage, the complaints again pertaining to his use of various obscenities.

A three-judge panel presided over his widely publicized six-month trial, with Bruce and club owner Howard Solomon both found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964. The conviction was announced despite positive testimony and petitions of support from Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jules Feiffer, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin – among other artists, writers and educators, and from Manhattan journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans. Bruce was sentenced, on December 21, 1964, to four months in the workhouse; he was set free on bail during the appeals process and died before the appeal was decided. Solomon later saw his conviction overturned; Bruce, who died before the decision, never had his conviction stricken.[11]

Last years

Despite his prominence as a comedian, Bruce appeared on network television only six times in his life. In his later club performances Bruce was known for relating the details of his encounters with the police directly in his comedy routine; his criticism encouraged the police to subject him to maximum scrutiny. These performances often included rants about his court battles over obscenity charges, tirades against fascism and complaints that he was being denied his right to freedom of speech.

He was banned outright from several U.S. cities, and in 1962 was banned from performing in Sydney, Australia. At his first show there Bruce took the stage, declared "What a fucking wonderful audience" and was promptly arrested.

Increasing drug use also affected his health. By 1966 he had been blacklisted by nearly every nightclub in the United States, as owners feared prosecution for obscenity. Bruce did have a famous performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre in December 1965. It was recorded and became his last (live) album, titled "The Berkeley Concert"; his performance here has been described as lucid, clear and calm, and one of his best. His last performance took place on June 25, 1966, at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, on a bill with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. The performance was not remembered fondly by Bill Graham, who described Bruce as "whacked out on amphetamines"; Graham thought that Bruce finished his set emotionally disturbed. Zappa asked Bruce to sign his draft card, but the suspicious Bruce refused.

At the request of Hugh Hefner and with the aid of Paul Krassner, Bruce wrote an autobiography. Serialized in Playboy in 1964 and 1965, this material was later published as the book How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. Hefner had long assisted Bruce's career, featuring him in the television debut of Playboy's Penthouse in October 1959.

Death and posthumous pardon

On August 3, 1966, Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home at 8825 N. Hollywood Blvd. The official photo, taken at the scene, showed Bruce lying naked on the floor, a syringe and burned bottle cap nearby, along with various other narcotics paraphernalia. Record producer Phil Spector, a friend of Bruce's, bought the negatives to the photographs to keep them from the press. The official cause of death was "acute morphine poisoning caused by an accidental overdose."[12]
Lenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills Home He was interred in Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California, but an unconventional memorial on August 21 was controversial enough to keep his name in the spotlight. The service saw over 500 people pay their respects, led by Spector. Cemetery officials had tried to block the ceremony after advertisements for the event encouraged attendees to bring box lunches and noisemakers. Dick Schaap famously eulogized Bruce in Playboy, with the memorable last line: "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene."

Lenny BruceBruce is survived by his daughter, Kitty Bruce, who lives in Pennsylvania.

On December 23, 2003,[13][14] 37 years after his death, Bruce was granted a posthumous pardon for his obscenity conviction by New York Governor George Pataki,[15] following a petition filed by Ronald Collins and David Skover with Robert Corn-Revere as counsel, the petition having been signed by several stars such as Robin Williams. It was the first posthumous pardon in the state's history. Pataki said his act was "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment."


In 2004, Bruce was voted No. 3 of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time by Comedy Central behind Richard Pryor and George Carlin, both of whom cite Bruce as an influence (Carlin was arrested as an audience member for refusing to show identification at Bruce's December 1962 show at the Gate of Horn in Chicago, after the police ended the show and arrested Bruce for obscenity. They were placed together in the back of a paddywagon). In a similar survey conducted during 2007, Bruce was voted No. 30 of the 100 Greatest Comedy Stand-Ups by a public poll for the British Channel 4.[16]

Bruce was the subject of a 1974 biographical film directed by Bob Fosse and starring Dustin Hoffman called Lenny, based on the New York-based stage play of the same name, written by Julian Barry. A new documentary about Lenny, called "Looking for Lenny" is currently in production.[17]

Lenny Bruce in song

In part because of his freewheeling, jazz-like style, Lenny Bruce has always had fans in the music community.

Bruce is one of the celebrities immortalized on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The musical "Rent" includes the song "La Vie Boheme," with the lyric "Ginsberg, Dylan, Cunningham, and Cage. Lenny Bruce! Langston Hughes!"

The clip of a news broadcast featured in "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" by Simon & Garfunkel carries the ostensible newscast audio of Lenny Bruce's death. In another track on the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert MacNamara'd Into Submission)", Paul Simon sings, "... and I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce, that all my wealth won't buy me health."

Nico's 1967 album Chelsea Girl includes a track entitled "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce", written by Tim Hardin. In it she describes her sorrow and anger at Bruce's death.

Bob Dylan's 1981 song "Lenny Bruce" describes a brief taxi ride shared by the two legends. In the last line of the song, Dylan recalls: "Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had."

Sections of the famous sketch "Thank You, Masked Man" were quoted by Frank Zappa's band during the band's 1984 tour (and can be heard on "You Can't Do That On Stage Any More Vol 3" on CD; "Does Humour Belong in Music?" on DVD).

Keith Richards (another fan) adapted a line from Lenny Bruce's "The Palladium" for the Rolling Stones song "Little T&A", where it became "the pool's in but the patio ain't dry".

Lenny Bruce's "'to' is a preposition, 'come' is a verb..." controversy inspired the 1992 song "Big Mouth Strikes Again" by anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba. It includes a chorus which states that "TO is a preposition, COME is a verb, COME is a verb intransitive, TO COME, TO COME, Don't come in me," and a verse which details both the event and the subsequent legal proceedings.

The comedian also inspired, or is mentioned in, songs by R.E.M. ("It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", including the lyric "Lenny Bruce is not afraid"), The Stranglers ("No More Heroes"), John Lennon and Yoko Ono ("We're All Water"), Nico ("Eulogy to Lenny Bruce"), The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Mighty Mighty Bosstones ("All Things Considered"), The Boo Radleys ("Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)"), Great Big Sea, Steve Earle ("F the CC," including the lyric "Dirty Lenny died so we could all be free"), Phil Ochs (who wore one of Bruce's old jackets on the cover of his Pleasures of the Harbor album), Manic Street Preachers ("Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart"), Nada Surf ("Imaginary Friends"), Tim Hardin (who lived in Bruce's house for a time), Grace Slick (whose "Father Bruce" with The Great Society was written while Bruce was alive, in celebration of his surviving a 1965 fall from a San Francisco hotel window), The Auteurs ("Junk Shop Clothes" and possibly also "Lenny Valentino"), Mickey Avalon ("Dipped in Vaseline", including the lyric "filthy on the mic like Lenny Bruce used to be"), The Elastic Purejoy ("If Samuel Beckett Had Met Lenny Bruce"), Kid Rock "E.M.S.P (Early Morning Stoned Pimp"), MDC ("Long Time Gone"), Widespread Panic ("Tickle the Truth Into Submission"), Nuclear Valdez ("Unsung Hero"), Propergol (Two songs, "Initials L.B" and "Our Last Call," include samples of Bruce's voice), John Mayall ("The Laws Must Change"), Nils Lofgren ("Mr. Hardcore"), Aesthetic ("Lenny Bruce"), Juice Leskinen ("Lenny Bruce"), Metric ("On The Sly," including the lyric "For Halloween, I want to be Lenny Bruce"), Genesis ("Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974," including the lyric "Lenny Bruce declares a truce and plays his other hand"), and John Frusciante with The Bicycle Thief ("Cereal Song" aka "Heroin").

In the updated 1964 version of "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," Allan Sherman sang "We're all tired of Mother Goose here / So next Friday night they're having Lenny Bruce here." Sherman's 1965 song "It's a Most Unusual Play" (a parody of "It's a Most Unusual Day") includes the following verse:

Oh, the language is a bit loose
It's decidedly not Mother Goose
Outside on the marquee
This quotation you'll see
"I was shocked!"
And it's signed "Lenny Bruce"!

Books by or about Bruce

By Bruce:

Lenny Bruce, Stamp Help Out! (1961 and/or 1965, self-published and sold at his concerts and in hip bookshops like City Lights in SF)
Lenny Bruce, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (Playboy Publishing, 1967)

By others:

Julian Barry, Lenny (play) (Grove Press, Inc. 1971)
Kitty Bruce, The (almost) Unpublished Lenny Bruce (1984, Running Press) (includes a graphically spruced up reproduction of 'Stamp Help Out!')
The Essential Lenny Bruce, compiled and edited by John Cohen (Ballantine Books, 1967)
Ronald Collins & David Skover, The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall & Rise of an American Icon (Sourcebooks, 2002)
Don DeLillo, Underworld, (Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997)
Bradley Denton, The Calvin Coolidge Home For Dead Comedians, an award-winning collection of science fiction stories in which the title story has Lenny Bruce as one of the two protagonists.
Albert Goldman, with Lawrence Schiller, Ladies and Gentlemen—Lenny Bruce!! (Random House, 1974)
Brian Josepher, What the Psychic Saw (Sterlinghouse Publisher, 2005)
Frank Kofsky, Lenny Bruce: The Comedian as Social Critic & Secular Moralist (Monad Press, 1974)
Valerie Kohler Smith, Lenny (novelization based on the Barry-scripted/Fosse-directed film) (Grove Press, Inc., 1974)
William Karl Thomas, Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet (first printing, Archon Books, 1989; second printing, Media Maestro, 2002; Japanese edition, DHC Corp. Tokyo, 2001)

-- wiki

Lenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills HomeLenny Bruce's Hollywood Hills Home

Quotes from Saint Lenny:

"Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it."

"The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can't fake it... try to fake three laughs in an hour - ha ha ha ha ha - they'll take you away, man. You can't."

"If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses."

"The only truly anonymous donor is the guy who knocks up your daughter."

"A lot of people say to me, 'Why did you kill Christ?' I dunno, it was one of those parties, got out of hand, you know."

"A Jew, in the dictionary, is one who is descended from the ancient tribes of Judea, or one who is regarded as a descendant from that tribe. That's what it says in the dictionary, but you and I know what a Jew is: One Who Killed Our Lord... there should be a statute of limitations for that crime."

"You can't put tits and ass on the marquee!...Why not?...Because it's dirty and vulgar, that's why not!... Titties are dirty and vulgar?...Okay, we'll compromise. How about Latin? Gluteus maximus, pectoralis majors nightly...That's alright, that's clean, class with ass, I'll buy it...Clean to you, schmuck, but dirty to the Latins!"

"Let me tell you the truth. The truth is, what is. And what should be is a fantasy, a terrible terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Comedian John Belushi's Chateau Overdose

John Adam Belushi (January 24, 1949 – March 5, 1982) was a comedian, actor, and musician notable for his work on Saturday Night Live, National Lampoon's Animal House, and The Blues Brothers. He was the older brother of James Belushi.
Early life

John Belushi was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Agnes Belushi (née Samaras), a cashier and first-generation Albanian-American, and Adam Belushi (b. 1919), an Albanian immigrant and restaurant operator who left his native village, Qytezë, in 1934 at the age of sixteen.[2][3][4][5] The family's name at the time of immigration was Bellios, or Belliors.[5] Belushi was raised in the Albanian Orthodox church[6] and grew up outside Chicago in Wheaton with a brother Jim, five-and-a-half years his junior. He attended Wheaton Central High School, where he met his future wife, Judy Jacklin, and was a middle linebacker for the school's football team. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater and the College of DuPage near Chicago.


Belushi's first big break as a comedian occurred in 1971, when he joined The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago. Thanks to a caricature of singer Joe Cocker's intense and jerky stage presence, he was cast in National Lampoon's Lemmings, a parody of Woodstock, which played Off-Broadway in 1972 and also showcased future Saturday Night Live (SNL) performers Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest.

From 1973 to 1975, National Lampoon Inc. aired The National Lampoon Radio Hour, a half-hour comedy program syndicated across the country on approximately 600 stations. When original director Michael O'Donoghue quit in 1974, Belushi took over the reins until the show was canceled. Other players on the show included future SNL regulars Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray and Chevy Chase. Belushi married Judy Jacklin (Judy Pisano), an associate producer of The Radio Hour. A number of comic segments first performed on The Radio Hour would be translated into SNL sketches in the show's early seasons.


Belushi achieved national fame for his work on Saturday Night Live, which he joined as an original cast member in 1975. Between seasons of the show, he made one of his best-known movies, Animal House. As several Belushi biographies have noted, on John's 30th birthday (in 1979), he had the number one film in the U.S. (Animal House), the number one album in the U.S. (The Blues Brothers: Briefcase Full of Blues) and Saturday Night Live was the highest-rated late night television program. In the toga party scene in the basement of the fraternity house in Animal House, the uncredited coed dancing with Bluto (Belushi) is his wife. While filming Animal House, Belushi made an appearance at Ithaca College in 1976. When introduced, he came onstage with a chainsaw and cut up the podium.

When interviewed for retrospectives on John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd told stories of John often finishing SNL rehearsals, shows or film shoots and, exhausted, simply walking unannounced into nearby homes of friends or strangers, scrounging around for food and often falling asleep, unable to be located for the following day's work. This was the impetus for the SNL horror-spoof sketch "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave," in which Belushi torments a couple (played by Jane Curtin and Bill Murray) in their home looking for snacks, newspapers and magazines to read, and taking control of their television. SNL also featured a short film by writer Tom Schiller called "Don't Look Back In Anger," where Belushi playing himself as an old man, visits the graves of his now-former cast-members, the last to survive. Ironically, Belushi was the first SNL cast member to die.

Belushi left Saturday Night Live in 1979 to pursue a film career. Belushi would make four more movies; three of them, 1941, Neighbors, and most notably The Blues Brothers were made with fellow SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd.

Other movie projects

Dan Aykroyd wrote the roles of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters and Emmett Fitz-Hume in Spies Like Us with Belushi in mind, and the roles were actually played by Belushi's former SNL castmates Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, respectively. Aykroyd used to joke that the green ghost Slimer in Ghostbusters was "the ghost of John Belushi", given that he had a similar party animal personality.

Released in September 1981, the romantic comedy Continental Divide starred Belushi as Chicago home town hero writer Ernie Souchack who gets put on assignment researching a scientist studying birds of prey in the remote rocky mountains. Belushi's character "Ernie Souchak" was loosely based on popular, now deceased Chicago columnist Mike Royko.

At the time of his death, Belushi was pursuing several movie projects, including Noble Rot, an adaptation of a script by former The Mary Tyler Moore Show writer/producer Jay Sandrich entitled Sweet Deception; noble rot is a benevolent fungus that can infect wine grapes on the vine, helping to produce high quality sweet wines. Belushi was rewriting the script with former Saturday Night Live colleague Don Novello.
Personal life

The "College" sweatshirt Belushi wore in National Lampoon's Animal House was purchased in Carbondale, Illinois, when his brother, Jim, was a student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.[7]

According to writer/actor Tim Kazurinsky in the book Live From New York, mentor and close friend Belushi was instrumental in getting fellow Second City alumnus Kazurinsky onto Saturday Night Live in 1981. But during his run on the show, Kazurinsky became very stressed out by its demands. He later called Belushi and said that he needed a ride to the airport because he was quitting and moving back to Chicago. Belushi and his wife picked him up but refused to bring him to the airport, at which Belushi told Kazurinsky that the show's atmosphere can get bad, but that he still had access to major broadcasting airwaves. Instead, Belushi took the performer to a psychiatrist whom he saw for a year, while staying with the show during his run.

It was Belushi who recruited the band Fear and brought them to Cherokee Studios to record songs for the soundtrack of Neighbors, a film he and Aykroyd were starring in. Music producing partners Steve Cropper and Bruce Robb remember recording the music, but nobody knows exactly what happened with the final soundtrack, which was ultimately replaced in the film by a traditional movie score. Cherokee Studios was a regular haunt for the original Blues Brothers back in the early days of the band. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd became fixtures at the recording studio, while fellow Blues Brother and guitar player Steve Cropper called Cherokee his producing home. Whenever they needed a bass player, they were joined by another Blues Brother, Donald "Duck" Dunn. During this time, Cropper along with producing partner and Cherokee owner Bruce Robb worked on a number of music projects with the two comedian/musicians, the band Fear and later Aykroyd's movie "Dragnet." "What can I say? John was excessively talented, and I guess you could say he sort of lived life 'excessively.' I think what happened to John had a sobering effect on a lot of people, me included," said music producer Bruce Robb.

Belushi was generous to his friends and family, often lending them money when they asked. He bought his father a ranch near San Diego, and helped set up his old friends in Chicago with their own businesses. He helped his brother Jim find a spot at Second City, where he himself acted in the early days of his career. His generous side also showed during his time in the Blues Brothers; he often played songs by blues artists he thought could use the money from the royalties.
Belushi's Chateau Death

On March 5, 1982, Belushi was found dead in his room at Bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.[8] The cause of death was a speedball, a combined injection of cocaine and heroin. On the night of his death, he was visited separately by friends Robin Williams (at the height of his own drug exploits)[9] and Robert De Niro,[10] each of whom left the premises, leaving Belushi in the company of assorted others, including Cathy Smith. His death was investigated by forensic pathologist Dr. Ryan Norris among others, and while the findings were disputed, it was officially ruled a drug-related accident.
Belushi's Chateau Two months later, Smith admitted in an interview with the National Enquirer that she had been with Belushi the night of his death and had given him the fatal speedball shot. After the appearance of the article "I Killed Belushi" in the Enquirer edition of June 29, 1982, the case was reopened. Smith was extradited from Toronto, arrested and charged with first-degree murder. A plea bargain arrangement reduced the charges to involuntary manslaughter, and she served 15 months in prison[11].

In one of Belushi's last TV appearances, he filmed a cameo for the comedy series Police Squad!. At the suggestion of the show's producer, Robert K. Weiss, Belushi was filmed, face down in a swimming pool, dead. The footage was part of a running gag where the episode's guest-star would not survive past the opening credit sequence without meeting some gruesome end. Also, as noted in one of the commentary tracks on the DVD, John nearly drowned during the filming of the scene. The scene never aired.

Belushi and his friend Dan Aykroyd were slated to present the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 54th Academy Awards, an event held less than four weeks after his death. Aykroyd presented the award alone, commenting on the stage "My partner would have loved to have been here to present this award, given that he was something of a visual effect himself."

Belushi is interred in Abel's Hill Cemetery on Martha's Vineyard Chilmark, Massachusetts. His tombstone reads "I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on." His gravestone is not above his body. It was moved after operators of the cemetery had found many signs of vandalism and rowdiness where his body lies. He also has a cenotaph at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois.


John Belushi's life is detailed in the 1985 biography Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward. Many friends and relatives of Belushi, including his wife Judy, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, agreed to be interviewed at length for the book, but later felt the final product was exploitative and not representative of the John Belushi they knew. The book was later adapted into a feature film in which Belushi was played by Michael Chiklis. Belushi's friends and family boycotted the film, which proved to be critical and caused the movie to be a box-office flop.

Belushi was portrayed by actors Eric Siegel in Gilda Radner: It's Always Something, Tyler Labine in Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy (which also features his friendship with Robin Williams), and Michael Chiklis in Wired.

His widow later remarried and is now Judith Belushi Pisano. Her biography (with co-biographer Tanner Colby) of John, Belushi: A Biography is a collection of first-person interviews and photographs, and was published in 2005.

On April 1, 2004, 22 years after his death, Belushi was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after a ten-year lobby by James Belushi and Judith Belushi Pisano. Among those present at the ceremony were Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, and Tom Arnold.

In 2006, Biography Channel aired the "John Belushi" episode of Final 24, a documentary following Belushi in the last 24 hours leading to his death.


Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle (1975) (voice) (1979 American dubbed version)
Animal House (1978)
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978)
Goin' South (1978)
Old Boyfriends (1979)
1941 (1979)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Continental Divide (1981)
Neighbors (1981)

SNL characters and impersonations

Recurring characters

Samurai Futaba
Captain Ned, one of Miles Cowperthwaite's cronies
Jacob Papageorge alias 'Joliet' Jake Blues, from the Blues Brothers
Jeff Widette, from the Widettes
Kevin (from The Mall sketches)
Kuldorth (from The Coneheads)
Larry Farber (one half of the Farber couple [the wife, Bobbi, was played by Gilda Radner])
Lowell Brock, from the H&L Brock commercials
Matt Cooper, from the Land Shark sketches
Pete, from the Olympia Cafe
Steve Beshekas (who was in real life a good friend of Belushi's since community college)
Frank Leary, one of St. Mickey's Knights of Columbus

Celebrity impersonations

Al Hirt
Babe Ruth
Bert Lance
Cesar Romero
Dino De Laurentiis
Ed Ames
Ed Asner
Elizabeth Taylor
Elvis Presley
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fred Silverman
George Wallace
Henry Kissinger
Hermann Göring
Jack Kerouac
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jimmy Hoffa
Joe Cocker
John Lennon
Julia Child
Leonid Brezhnev
Ludwig van Beethoven
Marlon Brando
Menachim Begin
Richard Daley
Robert Blake
Roy Orbison
Sam Peckinpah
Sanjay Gandhi
Steve Rubell
Sun Myung Moon
Tip O'Neill
Truman Capote
Vasiliy Alekseyev
William Shatner
Woody Hayes
Yasser Arafat

Belushi's Chateau References

1.^ It’s The Artie Talkin’ - DIMP interviews Artie Lange from
2.^ Belushi's SNL Bio from
3.^ John Belushi Biography (1949-1982) from
4.^ Books Of The Times; Close-Up Of John Belushi from the New York Times
5.^ They Were Belushis (or Blues Brothers) from
6.^ The religion of John Belushi, actor, comedian from
7.^ The party's over: Some say SIUC has finally shed rowdy school image, a May 8, 2006 article from The Southern Illinoisan
8.^ "John Belushi, Manic Comic of TV and Films Dies.". New York Times. "John Belushi, the manic, rotund comedian whose outrageous antics and spastic impersonations on the Saturday Night Live television show propelled him to stardom in the 1970's, was found dead yesterday in a rented bungalow in Hollywood, where he had launched a film career in recent years. The 33-year-old actor ..."
9.^ Robin Williams, television biography from the Biography Channel, 7/7/06.
10.^ John Belushi Dies at the Chateau Marmont from
11.^ Figure in John Belushi Case Freed From California Prison - New York Times

-- wiki

Belushi's Chateau

If you stop by the Chateau Marmont, don't expect to be able to visit the scene of Belushi's demise - unless you plan on staying the night. Belushi was riding a crest of popularity in 1982, and had more than enough money to hole up in one of the hotel's exclusive bungalows, which are accessible only to guests holding room keys.

But if you slip around behind the hotel and walk the sidewalk along Monteel Road, you can peer down into the area of the tree-shaded bungalows. Belushi's last binge occurred either in Bungalow 3 or Bungalow 2 - there seems to be an equal number of contentions for each locale.

-- The Dark Side of Hollywood - LA Daily News

Belushi's ChateauBelushi's ChateauBelushi's Chateau

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Walkabout: Fairfax - City Limits

This lunch counter looks very retro inside. Wish I had a better photo of the inside. The place looks inviting.
Of course, there's always the ubiquitous coffee store across the street.
Fairfax is the end of the line. West Hollywood ends here. You step east of Fairfax and Sunset, you're now in Hollywood. I had a good walk. Did you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Walkabout: Hayworth, Not Rita Hayworth

The old DGA building was on the southwest corner of Hayworth and Sunset. It was torn down and this new complex built in its place. I went to a lot of screenings at the old DGA as well as a few memorial services including the one for John Cassavetes.
Just a few lots south of Sunset on Hayworth, F. Scott Fitzgerald dropped dead of a heart attack in the living room of his lover Sheila Graham's apartment. "Poor son-of-a-bitch," said Dorothy Parker at the funeral.

Bounty Hunter Domino Harvey's West Hollywood Overdose

"Everybody wants to go to heaven,
but nobody wants to die."

-- Domino Harvey

Domino Harvey (August 7, 1969 – June 27, 2005) was an English bounty hunter, notable within that field for being female and from a privileged background. Though there is speculation as to whether or not she really was a model, there are in fact photographs which show her involved in what would appear to be modeling-related work. Harvey's fame was increased posthumously by the 2005 release of the film Domino that was loosely based on her life, with Harvey portrayed by Keira Knightley.

Domino Harvey was born to stage and Oscar-nominated screen actor Laurence Harvey and model Paulene Stone. Stone took the name Domino from Domino Derval, Bond girl in Thunderball portrayed by Claudine Auger, a model she had known. Stone liked the name and decided that if she had another daughter, she would use it.

Harvey had an older half-sister named Sophie, who was Paulene Stone's daughter from her first marriage to Take 6 fashion chain founder Tony Norris. Harvey was her father's only child and goddaughter to Peter Evans, a journalist and author who had introduced her parents to each other. After Laurence Harvey's death in 1973, Evans would co-write the book One Tear is Enough with Paulene Stone. Published in 1975, it was Stone's account of her time with Laurence Harvey.

Harvey was in and out of drug rehabilitation for years. On 4 May 2005, she was arrested at her home on a warrant issued in Mississippi after a federal grand jury indictment charged her and a co-defendant with conspiring to possess and distribute methamphetamines. She was awaiting trial and under house arrest at the time of her death. She would have faced up to 10 years in jail if she had been convicted.

Domino Harvey's Death House

On 27 June 2005, Harvey was found dead in a bathtub in West Hollywood after she became unresponsive while talking to Peter Dice, a "sobriety guardian." Domino had hired Dice to help control her drug use. On 3 September, the Los Angeles County coroner reported that a toxicological exam determined that Harvey died from a overdose of fentanyl, an extremely potent opiate painkiller. Her mother Paulene Stone suggested that Harvey may have been prescribed fentanyl for injuries she sustained in February 2005 when she fell taking her dog for a walk. Her funeral took place on 1 July 2005. Among the attendees were Tony Scott, Mickey Rourke, and Steve Jones.

Domino Harvey's Death House

A 22 July 2005 article by the Los Angeles Times quotes her uncle, Warwick Stone, as saying: "she was considering suing several publications for describing her as a lesbian and was also considering suing one of the rehab facilities." Ed Martinez also stated that she had spoken to him about wanting to create a documentary, all based completely on her true life story.

A film loosely based on her life called Domino was released in October 2005. There have been tabloid reports that the ending was changed following her death, and also that she had been unhappy with her portrayal in the film. The film studio has countered that she had been involved with the project with Tony Scott for nearly 12 years. Promotional featurettes for the movie include Harvey on set with the cast and crew; she contributed to the songs on the soundtrack, and also attended the movie's wrap party in December 2004. Harvey herself appears at the very end of the cast credits of the film. She did not see the finished film before her death.

-- wiki

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walkabout: Go Ahead & Laugh If You Want To

Schwab's Pharmacy was a drug store located at 8024 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California and has been widely noted as a meeting place and "headquarters" of movie actors and movie industry dealmakers from the 1930s through the 1950s. Like many drug stores in the United States throughout the mid-twentieth century, Schwab's sold medicines and had a counter serving ice cream dishes and light meals.

Schwab's was photographed in the film Sunset Boulevard as a setting where the lead character, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis, ran into friends in the movie industry.

Schwab's closed its doors on October 22, 1983. Five years later, on October 6, 1988, Schwab's fell to the wrecking ball to make way for a shopping complex and multiplex theater.
Although Jamie Masada barely spoke English which he mixed in with Hebrew and Farsi, he was soon working with comedians in a comedy club. Such comedic geniuses as Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Rodney Dangerfield, Red Foxx and Neal Israel, took Masada under their wings.

A dispute over club owners refusing to pay comedians drove Masada to create The Laugh Factory in Groucho Marx's old building at the age of 16. With a small loan from Neal Israel, he was able to turn his dream into reality, while simultaneously helping comedians

Recognizing Jamie's passion, Richard Pryor was the first comedian to serenade the Laugh Factory stage in 1979. Masada offered to pay Richard, instead Pryor handed him a hundred dollar bill and wrote on it, "You need this for your rent, boy."

Masada has always been ahead of his time and was called a true visionary by the LA Times. He earned this reputation through brilliant marketing strategies and business ventures- inspired by his passion for comedy.

As the country was gripped with the fear of the AIDS epidemic, The Laugh Factory was the first business in America to provide condoms to its customers. This stroke of marketing genius brought the Laugh Factory national exposure and Masada became a hugely sought after guest on the national press junket. Over the next three decades, Jamie Masada would constantly return to the forefront of national media. In 1985, Masada marched down Pennsylvania Avenue with Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Red Foxx, amongst many others in The Laugh Factory's campaign to send the first comedian into space. The campaign drew so much attention that President Regan asked Bob Hope to arrange a meeting with Masada.

USA Today called The Laugh Factory the number one comedy club in the country.