Christopher Crosby Farley (February 15, 1964 – December 18, 1997) was an American comedian, voice artist, and actor who was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995.
After graduating high school, Farley studied some drama, but found his niche in comedy when an undergraduate at Marquette University. After graduating college, Chris Farley moved to Chicago. Farley auditioned for the famous Second City comedy troupe, but failed. Farley then auditioned for ImprovOlympic, also in Chicago, and was granted a probationary term. Early in his ImprovOlympic run Farley had gained a reputation for outlandish stunts and winning over audience members. Eventually sharpening his drama skills to work together with a troupe, Farley had auditioned for Second City a second time and succeeded. As Second City has often been considered a "launch pad" for SNL cast, it seemed likely Chris Farley would be on the cusp of the "big one", garnering the attention of talent scouts. Farley auditioned for SNL in 1989 and was granted junior cast member status for the 1990 season. Two years later, he was promoted to full cast status, which is rare to accomplish in so short a time.
Saturday Night Live
On Saturday Night Live, Farley frequently collaborated with his fellow cast members David Spade, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Rob Schneider, among others. This group, along with Norm Macdonald, came to be known as the "Bad Boys of SNL." He also worked with Tim Meadows when they were working at Second City and on SNL. Popular characters performed by Farley included an exaggerated version of himself on "The Chris Farley Show," a sketch involving a talk show in which Farley quite often "interviewed" the guest, got very nervous and asked simple-minded or irrelevant questions, such as what their favorite rock band was; Matt Foley, an over-the-top, thrice-divorced motivational speaker who constantly reminded other characters that he "lived in a van down by the river;" Todd O'Connor of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a group of stereotypical Chicagoans who practically worshipped Mike Ditka and constantly shouted "da Bears!;" a Chippendale's dancer, in an infamous sketch that paired him with guest host Patrick Swayze; one of the "Gap Girls ," who hung out together at a local mall; a stereotypical lunch lady, to the theme of Lunch Lady Land performed by Adam Sandler; and Bennett Brauer, a Weekend Update commentator who often divulged his personal and hygienic problems through air quotes.
Farley also performed impressions of many real-life celebrities, including Tom Arnold (who eulogized Farley at the public memorial), Andrew Giuliani, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dom DeLuise, Roger Ebert, Carnie Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Mindy Cohn, Mama Cass, Hank Williams, Jr., and Rush Limbaugh. Once Chris Farley performed as Newt Gingrich on C-SPAN addressing Congress, only to then be met by the real Newt Gingrich, who congratulated Farley on a good impersonation.
During his five years on SNL, Chris developed a very close relationship with castmate David Spade. The two would go on to star together in Tommy Boy (1995) and Black Sheep (1996). They were inseperable for several years, joking that they were "like a married couple." When David didn't attend Chris's funeral, many speculated there had been a fight. Spade later rebuked these rumors, saying that he had stayed good friends with Chris until the end, and that the reason for declining to attend Farley's funeral was that he was too emotional, being unable to accept the loss of his famous co-star.
Farley also hosted SNL once, just two months before his death, on October 25, 1997. The episode was a disaster. He'd blown out his voice during the rehearsals, so he was extremely hoarse for the live show, and it was obvious that his health was declining dramatically. The cold open, in which he, Tim Meadows, and Chevy Chase try to convince Lorne Michaels that he was in good enough shape and was sober enough to host, was exactly the opposite of what was happening, and is cut in reruns along with the monologue.
On December 18, 1997, Farley was found dead by his younger brother John in his apartment in the John Hancock Center in Chicago. An autopsy concluded that Chris Farley passed away hours before his body was identified by his brother, presumably the early morning of December 18th, and the cause of death was ruled an overdose of morphine and cocaine (known in slang as a "speedball") which had parylzed his cardiovascular muscles. Farley's poor health was a likely stimulant that acted in tandem with the speedball, as advanced atherosclerosis was cited as a "significant contributing factor." Farley's death is often compared to that of his SNL idol John Belushi, who also died at age 33 of an accidental drug overdose consisting of cocaine and heroin, and who had been an inspiration for Chris Farley to begin his comic career.
Two memorials were held for Farley, one a small, private wake under heavy security (to ensure privacy) attended by the Farley family and Chris' schoolfriends in his birthplace of Madison, Wisconsin. The second funeral was done in California and was attended by over five hundred people, to include many of Chris Farley's co-stars and fellow comics such as Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows and Phil Hartman (who would have his own funeral several months later). Tom Arnold, whom Chris Farley had impersonated on SNL, gave the eulogy at the funeral. The only one of the Bad Boys who declined to attend was Farley's movie sidekick and best friend David Spade, who admitted it was too difficult for "me to be in the same room where Chris was in a box".
The films Dirty Work and Almost Heroes, which were released shortly after his death, were dedicated to Chris Farley, who had acted in both of them.
Prior to Farley's death, he had auditioned and recorded nearly every line for the role of Shrek, a role which eventually went to his SNL costar Mike Myers, who used a variant of his "All Things Scottish" character.
Farley was posthumously awarded the 2,289th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 26, 2005, which is located at 6366 Hollywood Blvd., in front of iO West. The ceremony was notably attended by his family, David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock.
Characters / Impressions
- 1990-1991: Member of middle cast group
- 1991-1995: Repertory Player
- February 10, 1996: Cameo
- October 25, 1997: Host
- Was heartbroken when Phil Hartman had to leave the show to the point that Farley was crying uncontrollably during the closing monologue of the show. Farley had even hugged Hartman during the event.
- The last person he worked with on a film before his death was with Chris Rock. Ironically he got along with Rock and David Spade the most. But also gotten along with Adam Sandler.
- Before his death, Farley had wanted to make a film base off of his Matt Foley character. He had also wanted to make a film base off of his Todd O'Connor character and to do a sequel to his sketch of The Relapse Guy.
- Before his death, Adam Sandler reveal the last time he saw Farley was when he and the bad boys of SNL had all attended Tim Meadows' wedding.
- Despite his death on December 18, 1997, he has a small flashback cameo appearance in the SNL40 digital short "That When You Break" in 2015.
- Adam Sandler had pay tribute to him by writing a song after him that is call Farley. He has two different versions of the song. However he had sung a clean version of the song on SNL when he hosted the show on May 4, 2019.
- Has two documentary films released decades after his death. One call I AM Chris Farley that was released in 2015, and as of 2019 another one call Chris Farley Anything For A Laugh that will air on A&E on May 27. However this will be the first documentary to have Matt Kissane to mimic Farley at the end of the documentary. What was also great about the documentary was that his college roommate, Gary Busey and Robin Shou were all interviewed in the documentary saying there favorite memories of Farley.