Chris Farley

Chris Farley
Chris Farley
A close-up of Chris Farley smiling at the camera
Born Christopher Crosby Farley
February 15, 1964(1964-02-15)
Madison, Wisconsin
Died December 18, 1997(1997-12-18) (aged 33)
John Hancock Center, Chicago, Illinois
Cause of death Cocaine intoxication and morphine overdose
Resting place Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Alma mater Marquette University
Occupation Comedian, actor
Years active 1989–1997
Notable works Saturday Night Live
Influenced by John Belushi
Relatives John P. Farley (brother)
Kevin Farley (brother)

Christopher Crosby "Chris" Farley (February 15, 1964 – December 18, 1997) was an American comedian and actor. Farley was a member of Chicago's Second City Theatre[1] and cast member of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995.


Early life

Farley was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Mary Anne (née Crosby), a housewife, and Thomas "Tom" Farley, Sr., who owned an oil company.[2][3] He had four siblings: Tom Jr., Kevin, John, and Barbara. His cousin, Jim, is a vice president at Ford Motor Company.[4][5] Farley's family are traditionally Irish Catholic, and Farley and his siblings attended Catholic schools in his hometown, including Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart. According to Joel Murray, a fellow Second City cast member, Chris would "always make it to Mass".[6] Many of his summers were spent as a camper and counselor at Red Arrow Camp, near Minocqua, Wisconsin.

Farley graduated from Marquette University in 1986, with a concentration in communications and theater.[7] After college, he worked with his father at the Scotch Oil Company in Madison.[8] He got his start in professional comedy at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison, and at the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago. He then performed at Chicago's Second City Theatre, initially as part of Second City's touring group. He was eventually promoted to their main stage. While working at Second City, Farley befriended his Saturday Night Live colleague Lorne Michaels.[9]


Saturday Night Live

Along with Chris Rock, Farley was one of two new SNL (Saturday Night Live) cast members announced in the spring of 1990.[3][9] On the show, Farley frequently collaborated with SNL fellow cast members David Spade, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Rob Schneider, among others. This group came to be known as the "Bad Boys of SNL".[10] Popular characters performed by Farley included himself on The Chris Farley Show, 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 motivational speaker who constantly reminded other characters that he "lived in a van, down by the river";[11] Todd O'Connor of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a group of stereotypical Chicagoans who constantly shouted "da Bears!";,[12] a Chippendale's dancer, in a famous sketch that paired him with guest host Patrick Swayze;[13] one of the "Gap Girls", who hung out together at a local mall; a stereotypical lunch lady, to the theme of Lunchlady Land performed by Adam Sandler;[14] and Bennett Brauer, a Weekend Update commentator who often divulged his personal and hygienic problems via air quotes. Some of these characters were brought to SNL from his days at Second City. Farley also performed impersonations of Tom Arnold, who gave Farley's eulogy at his private funeral; Andrew Giuliani, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dom DeLuise, Roger Ebert, Carnie Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Mindy Cohn, Hank Williams, Jr., and Rush Limbaugh were among the celebrities and real-life figures he portrayed.[15]

Off-screen, Farley was well-known for his pranks in the offices of Saturday Night Live. A March 13, 1995, New York magazine article refers to Farley and Adam Sandler making late-night prank phone calls from the SNL offices in Rockefeller Center, with Sandler speaking in an old woman's voice and Farley farting into the phone, as well as Farley mooning cars from a limousine.[16][17] Sandler told Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Farley from the show in 1995.[18]

Film career

During his tenure on SNL, Farley made cameo appearances in the comedy films Wayne's World, Coneheads, Airheads, and uncredited in Billy Madison. He also appeared in the Red Hot Chili Peppers music video for "Soul to Squeeze" which was a song featured on the Coneheads soundtrack.

After Farley and most of his fellow cast members were released from their contracts at Saturday Night Live following the 1994–1995 season, Farley began focusing on his film career. His first two major films co-starred his fellow SNL colleague and close friend David Spade. Together, the duo made the films Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. These were a success at the domestic box office, earning around $32 million each and gaining a large cult following on home video.[19][20] They established Farley as a relatively bankable star and he was given the title role of Beverly Hills Ninja, which finished in first place at the box office on its opening weekend.[21] However, drug and alcohol problems interfered throughout Farley's film work, and production of his final film, Almost Heroes, was held up several times so Farley could attend rehab.[22] After his premature death on December 18, 1997, his final completed films, Almost Heroes and Dirty Work, were released posthumously, and paid tribute to him in the end credits.

Unfinished projects

Farley was intended to record vocals for the title character of the DreamWorks animated film Shrek, but his death necessitated that the role be recast. He was replaced by one of his SNL co-stars, Mike Myers.[11] He was also planning a Matt Foley film with his colleague David Spade.[citation needed] By the time of his death, Farley had also been in talks to co-star with Vince Vaughn in the film The Gelfin and also to star in a biopic film about Fatty Arbuckle.[23]

Later life and death

By early 1997, a visible decline in Farley's health was frequently noted in the press. Following his final guest appearance on SNL on October 25, 1997,[24] his hoarse voice, continual perspiration and flushed skin were the subject of public scrutiny.[25][26] In the final years of his life, Farley had sought treatment for obesity and drug abuse on seventeen separate occasions.[27] On December 18, 1997, Farley was found dead by his younger brother John in his apartment in the John Hancock Center in Chicago.[28] An autopsy later revealed that Farley had died of a drug overdose (morphine and cocaine) early that morning.[29] Advanced atherosclerosis was cited as a "significant contributing factor".[22] His death is often compared to that of John Belushi, who was a member of The Second City and starred in Saturday Night Live, and died at age 33 of an accidental drug overdose of heroin and cocaine.[13]


Farley's private funeral was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin five days later. Over five hundred people attended his funeral, many of the actors and comedians who had worked with him on Saturday Night Live and on film including Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Brendan Fraser, Joe Mantegna, Lorne Michaels, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Buscemi, Mike Myers, Christopher Walken, John Goodman, Eugene Levy, George Wendt, Norm Macdonald, Holly Wortell, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, and Tom Arnold.[30] Notably absent was former SNL castmate, frequent film co-star and close friend David Spade, who was later quoted as saying that he declined to attend Farley's private funeral because he "could not be in a room where Chris was in a box."[15] However, Spade did appear on the special 25th anniversary episode of Saturday Night Live to call for a moment of remembrance for Farley. Farley was entombed at the Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.

Response and legacy

On August 26, 2005, Farley was awarded the 2,289th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is located in front of iO West.[31] In his memoir Gasping for Airtime, Jay Mohr recalled a moment involving Farley and his SNL colleague Phil Hartman. In the show's cast's goodbye song-and-dance performance to Hartman, the final scene featured Farley (in his Matt Foley costume) and Hartman embracing each other as the latter sang "Goodbye" to the camera.[32] This was seen on the "Best of Chris Farley" SNL special, but omitted from video versions of the special.[citation needed] The authorized biography of Farley, The Chris Farley Show, was written by his brother Tom, Jr. and Tanner Colby.


Year Film Role Notes
1992 Wayne's World Security Guard
1993 Coneheads Ronnie the Mechanic
Wayne's World 2 Milton
1994 Airheads Officer Wilson
1995 Billy Madison Bus Driver Uncredited
Tommy Boy Thomas "Tommy" Callahan, Jr. MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Duo (Shared with David Spade)
1996 Black Sheep Mike Donnelly Nominated — MTV Movie Awards Best Comedic Performance
1997 Beverly Hills Ninja Haru Nominated — MTV Movie Awards Best Comedic Performance
1998 Almost Heroes Bartholomew Hunt Released posthumously
Dirty Work Jimmy Uncredited
Released posthumously
Year Title Role Notes
1990–1995 Saturday Night Live Various characters 100 episodes
1992 The Jackie Thomas Show Chris Thomas 1 episode
1993 Roseanne Man in Clothing Store 1 episode
1994 Tom Chris 1 episode
1997 All That Chef Farley 1 episode


  1. ^ "Chicago Alumni". The Second City. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Chris Farley Biography (1964-1997)". 
  3. ^ a b "Chris Farley Biography — Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  4. ^ Gardner, Greg (2009-07-18). "Rising star assigned new duties at Ford". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2011-09-04.  (registration required)
  5. ^ Vlasic, Bill (2008-04-20). "A Star at Toyota, a Believer at Ford". New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  6. ^ [2009-01-16 "Chris Farley"]. The Chris Farley Show. Archived from the original on*/ 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  7. ^ "Marquette University — Famous Faces". 2003-02-12. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  8. ^ "Chris Farley Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  9. ^ a b "Wisconsin Historical Society". Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  10. ^ The Bad Boys of Saturday Night Live (1998)(TV)
  11. ^ a b Anderson, Sam (2008-05-16). "Dada’s Boy". New York. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  12. ^ "New Exhibit: Chris Farley Remembered". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  13. ^ a b Goldblatt, Henry (2008-05-07). "'Chris Farley Show' stuffed with gossip". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  14. ^ Crawford, Bill (2000). Adam Sandler: America's Comedian. Macmillan. p. 75. ISBN 0-312-26282-5. 
  15. ^ a b "Chris Farley's Black Sheep Jacket". Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  16. ^ Smith, Chris (1995-03-15). "Comedy Isn’t Funny". New York. p. 7. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  17. ^ Smith, Chris (1995-03-15). "Comedy Isn’t Funny". New York. p. 8. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  18. ^ "You're not alone, Conan O'Brien: Adam Sandler says NBC fired him and Chris Farley from 'SNL'" Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News, January 21, 2010.
  19. ^ "Box Office Mojo data for ''Black Sheep''". 1996-03-15. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  20. ^ "Box Office Mojo data for ''Tommy Boy''". 1995-05-16. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  21. ^ "Box Office Mojo data for ''Beverly Hills Ninja''". 1997-01-17. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  22. ^ a b Tucker, Reed (2007-12-16). "That Was Awesome!". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  23. ^ The Chris Farley Show, by Tom Farley, Jr. and Tanner Colby
  24. ^ "Chris Farley/The Mighty Mighty Bosstones episode reviews". 
  25. ^ "Saturday Night Live Transcripts". 
  26. ^ Shales, Tom; Miller, James Andrew (2003). Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Back Bay. pp. 492, 493. ISBN 0-316-73565-5. 
  27. ^ Nashawaty, Chris. "The Last Temptation of Chris".,,281398,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  28. ^ Petrikin, Chris (1997-12-19). "Comic Farley dies". Variety. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  29. ^ "Chris Farley's Death Laid to Drug Overdose". New York Times. 1998-01-03. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  30. ^ "Athens Daily News — Fellow comedians weep for Chris Farley". Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  31. ^ "Chris Farley Gets Posthumous Star". 1964-02-15. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  32. ^ Mohr, Jay (2004). Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live. Hyperion. pp. 292, 293. ISBN 1-401-30006-5. 

External links

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