August 3, 2021

The death of John Belushi: days of excess, depression and the role of Robert De Niro the night he suffered a lethal overdose

“I can’t stop now until the movie is over. I’ll be fine”. That told him John Belushi to your wife Judy while filming The Blue Brothers, one of his great successes in the cinema. His couple I was trying to stop the compulsion the actor had: he was an addict. That dependency that dominated him was what led him to the end of his life, in the room of bungalow 3 of the complex Chateau Marmont, in Los Angeles. The excesses of the night between March 4 and 5, 1982 subdued him And the explosive combo of cocaine and heroin who injected himself led him to death. I was 33 years old.

Belushi was born on January 24, 1949 in Chicago. Son of a couple of Albanian origin, from a very young age he excelled in sports. He became captain of the American football team from his high school. But the future had another place in history for him: acting and humor were his other two weaknesses. After he graduated in 1967, he began to appear in small plays where all his histrionics gradually emerged. He formed an improvisational acting group, West Compass Players, in its passage through the DuPage Institute.

In “Animal House,” John Belushi had one of his biggest movie hits. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

That base he had in comedy wore it in 1971 to be part of The Second City, the famous group of stand up and improvisation of Chicago. In that place he began to make his name grow along with that of other actors who ended up being stars and, some of them, great close friends: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold ramis Y John Candy, among others.

When Belushi left Chicago to move to New York a year later, entered off Broadway. He was part of the cast of the humorous musical rock show National Lampoon’s Lemmings, where he met another luminary: Chevy Chase.

John Belushi’s takeoff on Saturday Night Live

In 1975 the final takeoff for Belushi arrived. The producer Lorne Michaels I think Saturday Night Live, a skteches show with a guest host on every show and bands that became a television classic. He was part of the original cast alongside Chase, Aykroyd, Garret Morris, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman. “We were in the ’70s and each of us needed the other. We all worked together and sometimes it was not fair to cut a segment to one of them, but they always understood that I was trying to make the best show possible, “said Michaels, in an interview with Today in 2015, when the cycle turned 40.

Three years after showing off in Saturday Night Live, Belushi started his cinematic tour with three films in a row between 1978 and 1979: Goin’ South; National Lampoon’s: Animal House, directed by John Landis in one of his most outrageous roles; Y 1941, a misstep for both him and the director Steven Spielberg, since it meant one of his great commercial failures.

Belushi’s acting journey led him to go in parallel with his great friend Dan Aykroyd. The chemistry they had was immediate. Together with the Canadian they formed an unbeatable pair on television with the musical and humorous gag The Blue Brothers which, in 1980, was made into a movie, today of worship. “He was my brother. Everybody loved John. He was a real man, an athlete. Among other things, he was the typical American boy ”, remembered Aykroyd, in an interview with the radio Sirius XM.

Filming The Blues Brothers it was an excess in itself. Already the cast was full of music figures like James Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hocker, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan Y Cab Calloway. If to that was added money directly used to buy drugs, the mixture was excessive.

The cover of one of The Blue Brothers albums. (Photo: IMDb)

“We had a budget to buy cocaine during the night shoots. They all did, including me. John loved what he did. In a way, it brought it to life at night, that feeling of superpower where you start talking and conversing and you think you can solve all the problems in the world“Ayrkroyd said, in an interview with Vanity Fair for an anniversary of the classic film.

Slowly, Belushi had entered a compulsive behavior that shaped his character. His addiction was in loop: with each job he intensified his consumption. On Neighbours, which shot in 1981 again with Aykroyd, his addiction escalated. In the documentary Belushi, producer Richard Zanuck recalled when he ordered some people on the crew to hold the comedian so he doesn’t fall during some scenes. “Neither I nor anyone else could control it”, He commented.

Based on the evidence you collected Bob Woodward for the book Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi, the actor he rarely walked away from a drug for a few days. Many times when he did, he would replace it with painkillers to relax. Sometimes he detoxified, but only in response to some specific job.

How was the death of John Belushi

Belushi’s fatal outcome occurred in a hotel complex that contains a tragic halo due to different circumstances that happened to other celebrities, compiled in the book The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont. In the Chateau Marmont, for example, Jim Morrison got hurt when he jumped off a balcony already Lindsay Lohan she was outrageously fired for a debt of thousands of dollars.

The work written by the historian Shawn Levy did a meticulous reconstruction of Belushi’s last days, from before staying in bungalow 3 of the complex until his death. One fact that emerged when the book was published is that the comedian had had several meetings with executives and producers for a project called Noble Rot: everyone noticed by his image and demeanor that it was not right.

One of Belushi’s characters in “Animal House”. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

“It was clear to everyone who dealt with the comedian that he was very bad: his attention span was negligible; took and made mysterious phone calls all day; frequently he was hours late or completely left for meetings and appointments; his hotel room was a pigsty; his speech was scattered and even incoherent; the clothes she was wearing were dirty and wrinkled; He did not appear to bathe or shave regularly; and I barely slept, ”the book described.

When the filmmaker Al Reinert he came across Belushi, he noticed him disoriented. “He walked muttering incomprehensible curses, her pupils were so black and dilated like wide-open camera lenses, ”the filmmaker recalled, Levy reported.

What did Robert De Niro and Robin Williams do when John Belushi died

On March 4, 1982 Belushi he overlived his last hours of life. There were two recognized actors who played an active role in those final moments of the comedian. Robert De Niro Y Robin Williams they were known and constantly frequented those nights of the beginning of a decade watered by neon lights, disco music and cocaine. The three of them had become friends.

De Niro was strolling with another actor, Harry Dean Stanton. The two called Belushi several times to join them on their nightly bowling tour, but the comedian he did not want to leave his room. The protagonist of Taxi Driver made a stop in his own suite, spoke with Robin Williams and they agreed to meet where the actor from Saturday Night Live.

The scene they found was alarming. “The living room was in chaos, it was trashed, as if he had been furious “, synthesized Levy. Both, who arrived at the place at different times, did the same: they were with him, they were scared, they took cocaine from the large amount that was served on the table and they left.

An Instagram account managed by his wife Judy reviews part of the actor’s career. (Photo: Instagram @itsjohnbelushi)

How did Belushi die? The humorist injected himself speedball, a cocktail of cocaine and heroin that proved fatal. It was Cathy Evelyn Smith, a young woman who was there when De Niro and Williams passed by, who gave her the drug. “I killed John Belushi. I did not want to do it, but I am responsible “, declared the woman to the media National Enquirer, at the time.

According to the collection made by the site Biography, the autopsy on Belushi determined that died after acute cocaine and heroin intoxication. But the forensic analysis showed something else. The actor’s condition was a time bomb and a danger to his own health: he had lung congestion and bloating, brain swelling, liver enlargement, and obesity.

“The addiction was fueled by people that ironically he loved. That was the only thing that was wrong with him“Aykroyd recalled, in a radio interview. Years later, the same toxic combination was Chris Farley, another comedian who transcended thanks to Saturday Night Live.

Despite being among the characters and algorithms of the Internet like one more tragedy in the Hollywood universe, for his relatives, John Belushi was someone irreplaceable. His brother Jim, also an actor, remembered him with a smile and a wistful grimace in an interview he gave to the magazine People: “He captured the hearts of the United States. It was fun time and time again. Those feelings never leave you ”.

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