Belushi (2020) – Transcript

Director R.J. Cutler takes a revealing look at the brilliant life of comedic legend John Belushi. Known for his iconic characters and sketches on both stage and screen, few people knew his personal side, until now. Never-before-seen photos, letters and home-movies give intimate access to the world-famous superstar. Family and friends who knew him best share intimate memories, including Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Penny Marshall, Lorne Michaels and Harold Ramis.
John Belushi

A feature documentary from award-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler about the too-short life of John Belushi, the once-in-a-generation talent who captured the hearts and funny-bones of audiences worldwide. Told using previously unheard audiotapes, this film examines Belushi’s extraordinary life in the words of his collaborators, friends, and family, including Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Penny Marshall, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Jane Curtin, Ivan Reitman and his high school sweetheart and later wife Judy Belushi. From his early years growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, John Belushi showed an extraordinary talent for comedy and music. It was a visit to the Second City theater in Chicago where he discovered his true calling, and from that moment John became an unstoppable and pioneering force in the comedy world. From National Lampoon’s Lemmings and Radio Hour to one of the founding cast members on Saturday Night Live, his insatiable drive kept the candle burning at both ends. John simultaneously appeared on SNL each Saturday night while filming Animal House and forming a band, The Blues Brothers. The result: By age thirty Belushi was on the #1 television show, had the #1 comedy in movie history and the #1 record album in the world. But as John’s fame grew, so did his demons, and not even Judy could save him from the drug use that would eventually take his life. This film captures the complicated and singular essence of a beloved American icon who changed culture and comedy forever.

[man speaking indistinctly]

Okay? Am I ready?

[crew member] Yeah, we’re ready.

[John] Okay. All right. [sniffs]

[crew member] Are they ready?

[crew member] Now they’re ready.

[John] Okay, I’m gonna do some loosening-up exercises.

Take to the right.

Okay. Take to the left.

A double take to the right and a double take to the left.

Okay, let’s work on the eyebrows now.

Ready? Right eyebrow.

Up, down, up, down, up, down, and start.

Okay, left.

Up–up, down, up, down, up, down.

Okay, up, down, up, down.

[dial tone drones, buttons beeping]

[phone line trilling]

[Rosie] Hello?

[Tanner] Ms. Shuster, this is Tanner Colby calling about the John Belushi interview.

[Rosie] Yeah, hi.

[line trilling]

[Tanner] Mr. Michaels, how are you?

[Lorne] Good.

[interviewee] Tanner Colby, can I ask you to call me back in ten minutes?

[Tanner] That is not a problem.

[interviewee] Okay, thanks.

How about some Brando?

[as Marlon Brando] You was my brother, Charley.

You should’ve taken care of me or some’n.

[laughter]

Could’ve been a somebody. Could’ve been a contender.

[interviewee] Are you taping or making notes?

[Tanner] Uh, taping. Is that okay?

[interviewee] You should always ask permission before you tape.

[Tanner] Okay. May I tape?

[interviewee] Yes, you may.

[interviewee] What are you doing?

[Tanner] It’s gonna be like an oral history told in the words of the first-person participants because no one’s ever done a real biography of John as a performer. You know, when he showed up, it radically altered the landscape of comedy. I just wanted to give more of a full portrait of him as a human being.

[interviewee] Oh, okay.

[John] No, no, no.

[crew member] Want to do Steiger quickly?

[as Rod Steiger] Terry, Terry, Terry, what are you talking about? What are you talkin’ about?

[laughter]

Don’t talk to me that way!

[LOS ANGELES 1978]

[cheers and applause]

[person] Give me a light, Johnny. I’m going nuts, here.

[Tom] He was one of the most lovable and tragic characters I’ve ever met. He could be completely kind and thoughtful and generous and wonderful and, at the flipside of the coin, be chaotic and tortured, you know? He also was hilariously funny. He just had a sort of giant humanity that hooked into the collective unconsciousness of people’s funny bone.

[band playing energetic blues music]

[John] All right, all right.

[music stops]

[cheers and applause]

[Harold] John always had appetites that were completely out of control for everything, but I didn’t start to worry about him until they were at the Universal Amphitheatre playing for 7,000 people.

Thank you.

[Harold] I looked at John on the stage, and I thought, “He’s on the most popular comedy television show of our generation”…

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

But, no!

I logged a lot miles training for that day, and I downed a lot of doughnuts.

That’s why Little Chocolate Donuts have been at my training table since I was a kid.

[laughter]

[Harold] He’s in the most successful comedy film ever.

[Babs] This is absolutely gross.

That boy is a P-I-G, pig.

See if you can guess what I am now.

[Babs yelps]

I’m a zit. Get it?

[Harold] And now he’s onstage, fronting an amazing band.

suspenseful music

My first thought was, “How great for him.”

And my second thought was, knowing his appetites, “I don’t think he’ll survive this.”

The Chips’ “Rubber Biscuit”

energetic scatting

[Judy] I was a sophomore in high school, and a bunch of the senior guys gave us a ride home. And that was when I first met him.

[coughs] Hi.

[Judy] My first date was homecoming, and he was homecoming king. That was a good introduction to my life with John, because he has to go dance with the queen…

[laughs] And I have to dance with her boyfriend.

[indistinct shouting]

When I first was getting involved with John, his passion was football, but he was beginning to do things onstage. He did the varsity show, and he came up with lots of little skits, like a little jug band. He had a vision of the show so he just grabbed his friends and said, “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”

And they did it. [laughter]

His vehicle was a motorcycle that he was very fond of. He bought it on his own. I wasn’t supposed to ride on motorcycles, so he would have to borrow my parents’ car to go out, but I thought it was very cool. I did write a list of what I wanted from a boyfriend, ’cause, you know, you have to manifest these things. It was “good at sports, smart, musical, and funny.” And he was all those things. And, of course, I thought he was Italian, as I think most people did. I didn’t know where Albania was when he said he was Albanian. “Is that a country?” I was like, “Albania?” And I think he always felt that immigrant label pretty strongly… that his family were foreigners.

[Agnes] When we first moved to Wheaton from Chicago, John was six years old. John lived in a world of his own. He was just like a little man. He just took care of himself.

[Judy] His father was an Albanian immigrant. He was embarrassed by the way he spoke, and he didn’t express himself at all.

He wanted to be a cowboy. He wanted to come to America and be a cowboy.

[Sue] John’s family was a mystery to us.

None of us had ever heard of Albania, God knows.

He was very ashamed of his home, and we never went inside his house, ever.

[Gus] We all wanted to be American.

So, if your parents spoke Albanian in the house, it was kind of embarrassing to you.

[Jim] Well, you know, he was kind of intense, you know, around the house but around the dinner table every once in a while, he’d really let loose.

[laughter]

He’d do impressions of everything.

[John imitating Brando] Could’ve been a contender.

[Jim] He loved to be a performer, you know?

As a three-year-old kid, he used to go the neighbor’s, walk into a room, and do a show.

John just wanted to make everyone laugh.

Of course, my dad didn’t, like, even see the humor in it, you know?

He’d just keep eating.

country music

But the strong influence in our house, that was my grandmother, who didn’t speak English.

She loved John very much.

“Johnny nunnas,” she used to say.

She used to go, “Johnny nunnas.”

I don’t know what it means, but it sounds really warm, you know?

[alarm ringing]

Well, I’m a king bee bluesy music

Buzzing around your hive

[Gus] John’s dad was in the restaurant business and owned a restaurant in Chicago.

[Judy] He stayed there, like, five nights a week or something.

Come back on the weekend.

His father was a serious guy.

When he was young, he started drinking.

He was abusing it, and he stopped.

He did not drink.

[Gus] Really was a hardworking guy and away from the house a lot.

The idea was to get ahead.

It was all about the American dream.

[Judy] His mother, she worked in various restaurants as well.

She wasn’t around a lot.

And she herself had aspirations.

She wanted to be an actress and actually ran away once and did a play.

Like, left home.

No one knew where she was. [chuckles] Showed up, she’s got a little apartment and doing a play.

And then she came home, and that was the end of that.

I just thought that she felt sad…

[chuckles] …that things hadn’t gone how she would’ve liked.

I don’t think John’s parents really understood his essence.

They didn’t have the exchanges with him to know it.

They didn’t share that kind of time.

It was Nana who provided the unconditional love for the kids.

[record scratches]

[laughter]

[Jonathan Winters] Oh, boy, what a fun night to drive!

[Marian] He’d play the records something like a million times until you go crazy.

[Jonathan imitates explosion] – Boy, hit that semi dead-on.

[Marian] Jonathan Winters and Bob Newhart.

[Jonathan] You must’ve been doing at least 65.

I was doing 90, clown!

[Marian] And he’d imitate them in the mirror.

And then he’d write little skit things off of it and do them.

[John] Special guest this morning, four-foot-two, 656-pound Elsa Fattinsky.

[Marian] And then once he starting doing it, he said that he felt like he could, you know, go somewhere with this life, you know?

[John] Earth tremors were felt around the world to Schkorgus, New Jersey.

[Marian] And then in the band too.

[Payne] He had a band, you know?

And he’d bring these kids, anybody who could play.

And he’d show up with this whole mob of kids.

That was the way he was.

He would bring ten kids with him.

rock music

[Marian] He felt like he didn’t have a family, so he tried to create his own.

[Dick] John was the star of the class.

He was so in control when he was doing a play, and he was so funny.

You just knew he was special.

And when he found Judy and they found each other, I mean, that was it.

[Sue] The John and Judy relationship is really one of those things

that you hear about in storybooks.

[Judy] From the time I first met him, it seemed like he was always leading me into new doors and experiences.

And it was like John had some kind of magic.

He attracted people.

His enthusiasm was such that you got revved up and then you wanted to do it too, whatever it was.

He decided to audition for a summer stock theater in Indiana.

I think he was the youngest performer they ever had who they paid.

I believe he was paid $45 a week, and he was expected to mow lawn and paint as well.

[chuckles]

[John] Dear Jutes, well, here it is.

Twenty minutes to ten.

We’re going through the readings of our first play.

I don’t have a real big part in this one.

I play a general.

This is really Hicksville, USA.

I can’t believe it.

When I ride my bike in town, the local yokels think I’m a Hells Angel.

I’ll write as often as I can, sweetheart.

You know what they say.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Your one and only, John B.

Dear Jutes, I’m listening to the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper. Whenever I hear it, I think of you. Especially “A Little Help from My Friends.” I’ve lost about five pounds. I’ll fast for two weeks more so we can go swimming. I smoked pot the other night. It’s really something. It’s better than being drunk. I might take it again, but I don’t know. We got some reviews from the papers. I got some good ones. A few papers said I was superb.

When I get back, we’ll have to go to Second City once to see a show.

I hear it’s great.

Directions on going out on dates with anyone except John B:

do not take bath and/or shower three days prior to date.

Do not use deodorant before date.

Do not brush teeth and/or use mouthwash.

Wear mother’s dress which covers entire body.

Tell date that you have mono, cramps, and halitosis.

If he tries to kiss you, kill him.

[Judy] He had a real penchant for getting his feelings out.

My family was very Waspy and emotions weren’t really discussed and he was very clear about those things.

[John] A poem by John Keats-Belushi.

I wander through the dark forest of my mind in search of something that I must find.

There is no purpose to this little strife to find the answer of what should be life.

The bountiful monotony of this petty place is broken by an understanding face.

For there the answer lies, the answer to my cries.

I am forever yours and yours alone.

John.

[Judy] His experience at summer stock was a really important confidence builder, and it gave him a broader outlook on the world and what was going on and how he saw himself in it.

But when we went to Second City, that really cemented his passion for acting.

[actor] Hi, Melvin. Sorry I’m late.

I was working down at the agency, and I don’t recognize you.

You’re new, aren’t you?

[Melvin] Well, not terribly. I’m 30.

[laughter]

soft dramatic music

[Judy] The most memorable part of the evening to me was that as we left, John stopped, turned around, and said to me, “This is what I want to do… be an actor and create.”

And I’d have to be prepared to support us because he was going to probably never make any money.

So I was prepared.

But it was very much expected that he would go into business with his father and take over the restaurant.

That was his father’s dream for him.

But John knew it wasn’t what he wanted to do, and he knew it would be wrong to try to do it because his heart wasn’t in it.

And that was John Belushi 101, you know?

You don’t do something that you don’t believe in.

[John] Dear Judy, I guess I’m going through what they call an identity crisis. You know, “Who am I? Who do I want to be?” Any way you look at it, we’re gonna suffer in life. The only thing we can do is choose which way we will suffer. Sure, I’ve got big plans for us, but what if I fall on my face and we’re miserable? Being a basically happy person prone to occasionally melancholy despair, I’m not sure of anything right now in this whole damn, fucked up world. The only thing I am sure of is that if it wasn’t for you, I’d be a mental and physical wreck, and you’re the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me. I think you’re the one person who really understands me.
Love, John.

The Stooges’ “Down on the Street”

heavy rock music

[Judy] Within the following year, he went to college and had organized two friends of his, Tino Insana and Steve Beshekas, into a group that they called the West Compass Players. Just like he pulled a band together earlier, it was, “Let’s make an improv group.”

[Tino] John was the most serious actor, even in those days. And he would continually study improvising and comedy, and he read three newspapers a day– and a real political satirist. We would go to the coffeehouse and hang out and rehearse.

[John] Okay, buster, on your feet!

[Tino] And those sketches were about cops beating up hippies. Everything was about hippies.

[Tanner] Were you with him when he went down to protest at the convention?

[Tino] Oh, yes, I was there. It was Judy and John and I, went down there, and we were ten feet away from the incident that started the riot. We were so much a part of the counterculture. We were the ’60s.

[protesters clamoring]

[Judy] John was very much opposed to the war.

He became quite radical.

So there was a lot of politics in his improv, and he was having a lot of fun.

Of course, John still had the Second City, that hallowed institution of comedy, as what he wanted to do, and it turned out that they had heard about the West Compass Players.

And they called and said, “Why don’t you come in and audition?”

[emcee] John Belushi!

[laughter]

[Judy] They invited him to join the main stage cast.

It’s first time ever anybody was put on the main stage who hadn’t been in the touring company.

[Fisher] My biggest recollection was his amazing magnetism with the audience.

[Jim Belushi] He changed Second City, ’cause all they used to talk about was philosophy and intellectual concepts.

And John would come in there and play this hippie off the street who’s lost his memory from smoking too much pot, and the audience would go nuts.

[Harold] He became our strongman.

And instead of stealing every scene, he knew how to save any scene.

Literally, he’d walk onstage, and people would laugh.

[emcee] Mr. Truman Capote.

[applause]

[laughter]

[Fisher] And his driving ambition was the other one.

He wanted to succeed.

I remember him carrying his reviews around in his pockets.

We went to the local TV station to do a show, and I remember seeing John… [chuckles]

“I’m John Belushi, and here’s what they say about me.”

I mean, geez, who carries his reviews?

[Harold] Before John came, I was the long-haired guy.

I was the hippie, the freak, the radical, whatever, but he was genuinely all those things.

And it’s kind of like what was happening with the whole generation, you know?

He kind of shattered the limits and brought rock and roll to the show.

[Jim Belushi] He said to me one time, “You got to go onstage like a bull in a bullring, with that much energy and that much physicality.

Just jump out there and do it.”

[Harold] We really felt that we were in the presence of genius.

John would’ve done anything for a laugh, and, you know, that carried over into everything else.

I mean, he was heroic in his consumption, you know?

And I both admired it and feared it and realized that it would take John really far, but there was something safer and more comfortable about being me than there was about being him.

discordant violin notes

[John] You don’t have a cigarette on you, do you?

[interviewer] Yeah.

[John] Ah, thanks.

Did you grow up in Chicago?

Yes.

Are you Italian?

No, I’m not.

What are you?

I’m Albanian.

Oh, really?

Who was the little guy in Abbott and Costello?

Was that– that was Costello.

Do people ever compare you to him?

[John] No.

[man] No?

What’s your opinion of him?

I don’t like him.

You don’t?

No, I don’t.

No? Why?

‘Cause I don’t think he’s funny.

Huh. How do you see yourself?

I don’t see myself as any type at all.

I see myself as a new type, you know?

I take each thing as it comes to try and bring whatever energy that I have, which makes it different than other performers.

You know?

I want to do things that are new.

upbeat rock music

[car horns honking]

[reporter] National Lampoon has been called a MAD magazine for grown-ups.

Its hallmark is a kind of anarchistic social satire.

[Matty] We were the humor empire in the United States.

And we were doing this play called Lemmings about a rock concert.

I’d like to welcome you to the Woodchuck Memorial Festival of peace, love, and death.

[laughter]

[Judy] Lemmings was a parody of Woodstock.

It was the “woodchuck” festival.

Lemmings are little animals that, when they get overpopulated, they just run and jump over cliffs, and that was sort of the idea.

One, two, two, one.

[Judy] The target this time was the current counterculture, which had its own gods and divas who had not really been made fun of, so taking shots, so to speak, at people like Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dylan.

[Matty] We already had Chris Guest and Chevy Chase, and then the director came to me and said, “We heard that there’s this guy in Chicago with the Second City who is absolutely fantastic.” So I said, “Well, get on a plane and grab him.”

Hey! How you been, man?

Hey! Hey, hey, hey!

[Ivan] In a crowd of extraordinarily talented people, he was the electrical force that held it all together and gave the show its focus.

National Lampoon’s “Lonely at the Bottom” band playing jazzy show tune

Well, I’m standing here, singing my song

There ain’t nothing to do, and all my friends are gone

I had sunshine and a country home

I’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone

But it’s lonely

Yes, it’s lonely

[Chevy] He was clearly the star.

He had a great command. He had confidence.

And, you know, we all looked up to him that way.

Yeah, now all my friends are gone

Oh, yeah, who will help my friends?

Oh, yeah, who will help my friends?

Oh, yeah, who will help my friends?

[grunts unintelligibly]

[cheers and applause]

[laughter]

[John] Uh-oh.

[laughter]

[grunts]

Hey!

[laughter and applause]

[spits]

[laughter and applause]

What a day.

[grunts] I got to get up.

[grunting]

Whoa.

[grunts]

What

Would you do

If I sang out of tune

Would you stand up

And walk out–

[man] One, two, three!

[John vocalizing]

[Judy] Part of the appeal for Lemmings was definitely the fact that the role was to be a rock star.

But that was also when cocaine was introduced.

psychedelic rock music

[Joe] You can’t talk about John and not mention drugs because John did do a lot of drugs.

But it was part of the culture, and everybody was actively saying that drugs enhance your artistic vision.

And it was even encouraged to a certain extent.

But, I mean, it didn’t affect his performance or anything like that.

God, this is the biggest quaalude I’ve ever seen.

[splutters]

[Sean] Onstage, he was dangerous.

He gave the impression that anything could happen, so you were engaged by this raw id.

And it was vulnerable, the way an id is.

There’s nothing protecting it.

It must’ve hurt a lot.

[Eugenie] In a way, John was more fragile than those of us who appeared more fragile.

[reporter] The biggest White House scandal in a century broke wide open today.

[Sean] As the show was running, during the day was the Watergate thing.

What did the president know, and when did he know it?

All right, you. Cool it.

[Sean] So at night,

we would do a version of the Watergate hearings.

[nerdy voice] You know what?

Please be quiet. Please.

[Sean] It was called “Mission: Impeachable.”

All right, I would like to introduce at this time

President Richard Milhous Nixon.

[laughter and applause]

[John] This is another exciting chapter in the true-life drama of John the Judy-lover.

I got my woman, and that’s all I need.

[Judy] When I started working at the Lampoon in the art department, Michael O’Donoghue was doing a book called the Encyclopedia of Humor.

So we became friendly.

And then Michael started National Lampoon Radio Hour.

I had suggested John for the show, and, slowly, because he came to trust me, he said, “Okay, let’s bring him in.”

[John] Good evening. This is John Belushi.

And this is the National Lampoon Radio Hour.

[actor as Nixon] You idiot! Now move!

[grunts]

[thump]

[John] He’s dead.

You killed Ziegler when you pushed him, Mr. President.

[actor as Nixon] I didn’t push him.

Mitchell pushed him.

Don’t blame me for everything that goes on around here.

[John as Brando] I could’ve been an anal retentive instead of a thumb-sucker, which is what I am.

Let’s face it, Charley.

[Belzer as Steiger] Here, kid, you better take this.

You’re going to need it; I don’t have time

to fool around with you.

I just dropped a big load in my pants!

[Bob] Anybody who he thought was talented

he would basically want to have work with him.

And John was responsible for bringing everybody

that he knew from Second City into the Radio Hour.

He brought Gilda down,

Bill Murray, Harold Ramis.

And then Michael O’Donoghue ended up splitting

from the National Lampoon.

So we needed another director,

and the obvious choice was John.

You are listening to the National Lampoon Radio Hour.

[overlapping chatter]

[Harold] Hey, you guys! Come in for a second!

Get out of that shower and stop horsing around over there!

Stop snapping those towels. I got something to say.

John always was the anchor for everything,

even socially.

He and Judy would have the Thanksgiving dinners,

and it was his house that you’d go to to hang out.

They were already like a married couple

when they were so young.

And she was always by his side

and just as funny and dark and crazy as everyone else.

[Paul] I’ll tell you,

Judy was a great steadying influence on John.

People knew that he was gonna become a star.

And he knew it.

But Judy, she always kind of

brought him back down to Earth,

’cause as talented and wild and impulsive as he was,

whenever some sort of order was imposed on him,

either self-imposed or otherwise,

it had a good effect on him.

Don’t want to discuss it

Think it’s time for a change

You may get disgusted

Start thinking that I’m strange

That case I’ll go underground

Get some solid rest

Never have to worry

About who’s got what and what is best

I said oh, oh, Domino

Roll me over, Romeo

Time for a change

All right

[Aykroyd] I met him in Toronto. He came up to grab people for his radio endeavors, but I couldn’t do it ’cause I had a TV show in Canada.

[Bob] One of the greatest things John found was a friendship in Danny.

[Tanner] Mm-hmm.

[Bob] You know, Danny and John were really, I mean, amazingly tight.

[Aykroyd] We fell in love the moment we met ’cause he was just one of those characters that walked into a room and high wattage from day one. And, you know, we saw the worth in each other right away for a really enduring friendship.

[Harold] You know, the great thing was everyone liked everyone else. I mean, no one was getting rich, but we did not have to hustle. No one had to take second jobs. And I think we all started feeling, “Hey, maybe we are as good as we hope we are.”

[Gilda] Hi, I’m your host-person, Gilda Radner, and tonight I’m gonna read you the people who contributed to this week’s show. John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Guest, Doug Kenney, Bill Murray, Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Ed–

[John] It’s Ray-mis.

[Gilda] What?

[John] Ray-mis, not Rah-mus.

[Gilda] You want to spell it?

[John] R-A-M-I-S. Ramis.

[Gilda] And how do you pronounce that?

[John] Pronounce it Ray-mus.

[Gilda] Do you say, “Will you slum the door?”

[John] Will you just read the credits right, Gilda?

[Aykroyd] And there you have the essential struts, pillars, and crutches of the American comedy industry as we have it today, and John was, like, one of these cohesive forces bringing it all together, you know?

low, ambient ringing

[Lorne] I’d seen John in his show with Gilda and Billy Murray and Harold Ramis. You know, I thought he was interesting, but I wasn’t knocked out.

[car horns blaring]

dramatic music

There was a young executive named Dick Ebersol who came over to NBC to be the new director of Late Night. He and I had a bunch of meetings. I just sort of added up everything I was interested in, which was comedy and music and politics and films, and threw it all together, and I sort of at the beginning had the ingredients. I didn’t quite have the recipe.

[crew member] Okay, rework.

[Matty] I mean, Saturday Night Live was the same format as the National Lampoon Radio Show. And most of the actors came from one of the Lampoon shows and a number of the writers and what have you. Lorne, of course, denies it.

[Lorne] Both Michael O’Donoghue and Chevy wanted me to meet with John, and they were big fans. But at our first meeting, he said that he didn’t do television. You know, like I’m supposed to convince him to do it. And I thought, “Oh, it’s trouble. He’s trouble.” Because I was looking for, you know, a group of people who saw this as the opportunity that I saw it as, which was a sort of cultural upheaval, and the enemy, to me, was ambivalence.

[Judy] He went in with his attitude and told him immediately that he hated television and his television had spit all over it. He pretty much turned Lorne’s conviction true, that he thought John would be not the right mix.

[chuckles]

[Rosie] Lorne didn’t like to have his authority challenged, and Belushi’s macho flexing was not something that Lorne was gonna warm to, you know?

[Tanner] Right.

[Rosie] He didn’t like power plays. We were the last two to get hired for that show…

[unintelligible]

Because they weren’t sure–

We were too much.

We had reputations of–

I had what you call a bad attitude, you know?

“How about TV?” I was kind of a punk.

You know, I said, “I’ll let you have me on your show.”

I was real–the worst way to try and get a job.

Lorne Michaels was not nuts about me.

So when I went in to audition for Saturday Night, he said, “What are you gonna do?”

Turned around and went… [shouting]

dramatic music

Just before I was on the Saturday Night show,

there was a station in New York

showing a samurai movie.

It was Toshirô Mifune.

[samurai speaking Japanese]

Oh, my God. Couldn’t believe it. The sword fighting was fabulous, and I was fascinated. So I just got doing it around the house.

[shouting in Japanese]

Like, I would take this broomstick that we had in the house and I’d stick it in my belt, and I’d… [imitating Japanese]

[battle cry]

I’d go up to my cats, you know, with a sword and go… [imitates Japanese]

[bellows]

[glass shatters]

[cat screeches]

[Aykroyd] They loved it, they loved it.

dramatic music

[crew member] Can you hear me up there?

[Anne] Pick an adjective.

It was great; it was horrible; it was fascinating; it was exhausting; it was exhilarating; and that was before the show had launched.

[Aykroyd] Well, it was like being in a college dorm, you know? We had beers and smoked the herb.

[Rosie] Well, you just smelled it in the air, and you knew. And there was definitely cocaine around.

[Tom] Walked past Lorne’s office late one night, and there’s Belushi, was snorting coke off of Lorne’s desk.

You know, Lorne was long gone by that time.

[Anne] I remember John and Lorne getting into some kind of fight and Lorne firing him.

[Tanner] Anne Beatts said that you fired John just before the start of the show; is that–

[Lorne] God, it makes perfect sense that I would have.

[Anne] I was like, “No, no, no,

we have to put this back together.”

And I went and found him in some divey bar on 48th Street.

Said, “Go back and apologize.”

And Lorne, of course, you know, did take him back.

[Snyder] Beginning on October the 11th,

Saturday Night premieres a whole new live venture.

What should we look for on your program?

– Anxiety. – [Snyder] Fear?

Yeah. It’s–

[Snyder] Will all of you be seen every week?

Well, we’ve got eight,

and we’re hoping for two to really work.

I mean, so not all of these people will become stars.

[chuckling]

[crew member] Quiet, please.

[Anne] And then, despite Lorne’s misgivings,

John was in the opening of the first Saturday Night Live ever.

Let’s begin.

Repeat after me.

I would like…

[John] I would like…

[Michael] To feed your fingertips…

To feed your fingertips…

– [Michael] To the wolverines.

To the wolverines.

– Next, I am afraid…

I am afraid…

[Michael] We are out…

We are out…

[Michael] Of badgers.

Of badgers.

[Michael] Would you accept…

Would you accept…

[Michael] A wolverine…

A wolverine…

[Michael] In its place?

In its place?

Next: “Hey,” Ned exclaimed.

“Hey,” Ned exclaimed.

[Michael] “Let’s boil”…

“Let’s boil”…

– [Michael] “The wolverine.”

“The wolverine.”

Next…

[gasps]

[gasps]

[laughter and applause]

[inaudible speech]

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

[Anne] I mean, it wasn’t, like, an instant megahit, but it did build to that relatively quickly.

They became a new group of cultural icons.

The editorial was about Jewry, not jewelry.

Ooh, well, that’s very important.

Yes.

Never mind.

[laughter]

[Bernie] It was very, very popular because of its attitude.

Honey, did you send for interior demolitionists?

[Bernie] It was expressing the rebellion that the ordinary person was feeling.

[Rosie] We were children of the ’60s.

We’d come out of free love and sex, drugs, rock and roll, but also out of civil rights and feminism, and there was nothing on the airwaves that fed back to us the culture we were living.

It’s just a word association. Colored?

Redneck.

[laughter]

Burrhead.

Cracker!

[laughter]

New Shimmer is a floor wax.

No, New Shimmer is a dessert topping.

It’s a floor wax.

It’s a dessert topping.

It’s a floor wax, I’m telling you.

It’s a dessert topping, you cow!

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Calm down, you two. New Shimmer’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Mr. Bee?

Yes?

Congratulations, it’s a worker.

It’s a worker?

[Judy] In the very first days of Saturday Night, all John did was be a bee, which he didn’t like doing. There were roles he thought he could do better that someone else would get. He didn’t think he had a voice to express that or be taken seriously ’cause Lorne made the choices.

Do you think we like this?

No.

[laughter]

But we don’t have any choice.

[Judy] We’d walk down the street, and someone would hang out their car and point at John and go, “Hey, Mr. Bee!” It was not what he had dreamed his life in television would be.

Meanwhile…

[announcer] And now Weekend Update with Chevy Chase. I love it when you make noise.

[laughter]

Remember when– I got to go, hon.

Good evening. I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.

[laughter]

[Judy] Chevy had his “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not,” so he was getting pretty famous.

Don’t move. There’s a bee on your hand.

[Candice] From the first show to the one I did, which was the fourth show, “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not” became part of the pop culture.

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

[Judy] It was the Chevy Chase show.

Chevy, Chevy, I love when you fall down

It’s Saturday Night on my TV

Oh, but Chevy, every time you take that fall

I wish that you were falling

Falling for me

Good evening.

I’m God, and here’s the news.

[applause]

[Judy] When Chevy, you know, did take off very quickly and John didn’t, that was confusing to John and did cause some problems.

You comfortable?

Oh, yeah.

Okay, good.

[laughter]

[Penny] Oh, he’d go on his tirades and sulk.

There was a lot of,

“How come Chevy’s in more stuff than I am?”

That was after, at night.

You know, he’d come over to your hotel and then start moping and ask if he wasn’t “in” enough.

[chuckles] And that he was talented, or wasn’t he talented or what is it? “You are talented, just not, you know, doing what Chevy’s doing at the moment.” “Why not?”

[Chevy] He did not throw himself into the group. He didn’t come into the office a lot and discuss sketches. I spent most of my time in the office with Lorne.

[Lorne] All the way up from Second City to National Lampoon, John had always been the ringleader.

[Tanner] Yeah.

[Lorne] He had been the top banana, and now it was all about Chevy all the time, and that was driving John crazy. Then with the samurai on Richard Pryor’s show, that was sort of the breakthrough.

[John shouts]

[Lorne] John already had the character, and that came about because Richard did not want to come to the offices so I had John head over to his hotel room and work with him there, and Richard was like, “I got to do that. I can do that with him.”

[imitating Japanese]

[imitating Japanese]

[laughter and applause]

[imitating Japanese]

[imitating Japanese]

Fellas, which one of you is gonna carry my bags upstairs?

[both shouting]

[laughter and applause]

[both growling]

[both shout]

[laughter]

[Mitch] Everybody, you know, New York Magazine and Rolling Stone and everybody was focusing on Chevy, but John, I don’t know, his energy and the danger of him, the kind of excitement whenever he came on screen was jarring… and a comedy I hadn’t seen before.

Ah-choo.

[laughter]

[Judy] It was a very mixed year for John. It was a disappointment on a level that he wasn’t able to have the voice he wanted, but there was a certain family sensibility for John, in that Danny was there, and it was a very strong… very strong friendship.

[interviewer] I get the feeling that out of all the “not ready for primetime” players, you two are really close friends.

[Aykroyd] Well, actually for the first year of the show, none of sure it was gonna go past seven shows, so I crashed at his house, you know?

So we’d take trips.

[John] Like, you know, Dan and I would get sick of the show, and we’d get a driveaway car and just burn across the country in three days with the CB radio.

[indistinct chatter]

He’d drive like a madman and we’d talk about something.

We’d play music, you know?

[Aykroyd] He turned me on to the Allman Brothers

and I turned him on to “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Wagner, you know, which he’d never heard.

As we were sailing across the Nevada mountains, you know?

Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries”

[overlapping chatter]

[truck horn blasts]

[Lorne] And then at the end of the first year,

Chevy announced that he was leaving the show.

[John] Hey, Mr. Chase.

[both chuckling]

[Lorne] And with Chevy gone, the thing John most hoped for, which was that he would be the alpha male, now had happened. Now he had what he said he wanted.

Right now, NBC, one of the country’s largest corporations, with billions in assets…

[laughter]

Is waiting for me, a stupid, troublemaking punk actor from Wheaton, Illinois, to open the show.

[Tanner] And everybody says, you know, John was, you know, the everyman, and that’s why he connected with people.

[Lorne] Well, John had that connection with the audience where they can see right into his heart.

You know, when I think of Ireland, I think a lot of colorful Irish expressions,

like “top of the morning to ya,” “kiss the Blarney Stone”…

[Lorne] There was so much vulnerability that you thought you knew who he was.

“I’d like to smash you in the face with my shillelagh.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Joe Cocker!

Seems I’ve got to have…

[Alan] I remember standing on the floor once, Lorne saying, “It’s Gleason.”

And you think about it, it was Ralph Kramden there.

There was something so blue-collar-ish about him.

Ahh.

[Alan] It was almost like he didn’t have a command of the language.

[all scatting]

[Alan] Where he made you laugh was when he was breaking things.

[shouting]

Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright”

[Alan] Conveyance of conspiracy with the raise of an eyebrow. And you hooked into the ride that he was going on. At least when George C. Scott won the Oscar, he didn’t accept it. You know, Marlon Brando sent up an Indian. Now, you could’ve sent up an Indian. But, no, no, no!

[laughter and applause]

[Alan] People reacted to John and loved John in the same way that they love gangsters.

I’m not feeling that good myself, oh

Oh, no

Of course, I’m talking about Elizabeth Taylor.

Liz, welcome to Celebrity Corner.

[Alan] Gangsters are blue-collar immigrants

who live the American dream

by basically going outside the system

and breaking all the rules.

[grunting and gagging]

[coughing]

Well, thank you so much, Liz.

It’s been a real treat for me to have you on Celebrity Corner.

And I think all your fans in the whole world are joining me when I say,

“Good luck with that diet.”

[cheers and applause]

[Lorne] John was the leader, after Chevy,

of “all for one, one for all.”

You know, he loved the show.

[host] Would you consider yourself an anarchist?

[John] A disciplined anarchist, yeah.

Yeah, sure. I’m an anarchist.

One thing I think I’m not is a professional.

I mean, I’d rather be an anarchist than a professional.

Because I think there are too many people

just kind of sitting down and letting things happen.

I like to shake things up a little bit.

[chain saw revs]

Today with the success of Saturday Night,

TV comedy is changing TV, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

You see, we’re an exception, a tropical island in a sea of video sludge.

[Lorne] But that first intoxicating period of success is incredibly confusing, ’cause you get to meet everybody you ever thought you wanted to meet and they want to meet you.

John lived his life in these eight-hour shifts, and if you were with him for eight hours, you thought, “Well, God, he must be exhausted.

But I’m going to bed.”

But then there was a whole other group of people that he hung out with.

[Judy] John and Danny both were at a point where they were famous, and so their lives were no longer the same.

They couldn’t just go to a bar somewhere and sit around.

That was no longer a comfortable reality because people were on them all the time.

[Mitch] Do you remember when the Blues Bar opened?

[John] Oh, yeah.

[Mitch] You were there for opening night, right?

[John] Oh, yeah.

[indistinct chatter]

[Mitch] John and Danny’s Blues Bar was such a shithole that it took my breath away.

It was tiny, it stunk, and also had the most terrifying bathroom I’ve ever seen in my life.

[toilet flushes]

But it was the most spectacular jukebox.

And I remember Keith Richards being there, and the Allmans would kind of set up in one corner and Francis Ford Coppola and Danny tending bar.

There was no money changing hands.

There was nothing sinister. It was their fantasy.

And it instantly became the coolest party in the history of New York.

Oh, freedom

[Lorne] It was a very heady time, and I think he started to lose his balance a little.

[telephone rings]

[Jane] Hello?

[John] Hi, Jane. This is John.

John Belushi.

Hi, John! How are you?

[John] Not too good, actually. [chuckles]

You probably noticed I haven’t been in the show yet.

Well, I just wanted to tell everyone that I am in the hospital.

I hurt my leg, but I will be back next week with or without my leg.

[Jane] Uh-huh.

[Judy] John began doing lectures at colleges with Danny, and on this particular show, for whatever reason, he decided to jump off the stage, and he broke the cartilage in his knee.

He was put on painkillers, and when they stopped the painkillers, he was not ready to stop.

And it got pretty out of control.

[Lorne] Look, I can’t put this man on television.

He’s barely awake.

Lorne, if John Belushi could speak, he’d tell you he’s got to go on.

Doc, I-I-I-I don’t understand.

Why are you so convinced that this man can do a show?

[chuckling] Well…

to be perfectly honest, it’s about my fee.

[Tanner] In the second year, your prediction that John would be trouble sort of came to fruition.

[Lorne] Yeah.

And if he doesn’t get paid, I don’t get paid.

And if I don’t get paid, I’ll be forced to cut off his drugs.

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

[Lorne] He was testing all the boundaries at that point.

The boundaries of his relationship with Judy, definitely with everyone at the show.

Well, let them take you for a clown

And they’re bound to bring you down

You got to make it through the world…

[Judy] I’d come up to the show, and I was walking into the studio, and there’s bleachers there, and as I got in and under, I saw that John and some woman were kissing.

And he saw me and came right after me, and he grabbed me and said, “I swear to God, she just kissed me.”

[Anne] He would be late. He would be erratic, you know? He did have difficulties, obviously. I mean, the phrase “where’s John?” was said as frequently in rehearsals as, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.”

[Jane] It was difficult working with John. I don’t know whether it was ego or ambition or the drugs, but he didn’t seem to respect the women on the show.

[Judy] He was very hard on two of the women writers and kind of just made it a categorical, “I don’t like their work, I don’t want to do their work” kind of thing.

And, of course, they often wrote for Gilda, and I think she felt he was being mean and unfair.

[Anne] Even so, John would do stuff like refusing to be in things we wrote and saying that girls weren’t funny.

And I mean, believe me, all those men who are accusing John of sexism, I don’t think their records are too clear either.

[Lorne] John had to always look like he was the boss.

It was a, you know, a descent into hell.

I’ll just leave it at that.

If you can

[match strikes and hisses]

[Judy] During that second season, it just seemed we were slipping apart. He was being distant, not responsive to concerns I had about his drug use. And I began to not trust what he was telling me. He wasn’t following through enough with things he said. I felt I wasn’t important anymore, and it didn’t feel like his interest was with me, and that’s really pretty much why we split.  So he went to LA.

[Bob] I’m the head of the John Belushi fan club.

Yes, how’s that?

[John] What’s this for?

We’re making a documentary about him.

You know Sally Kirkland?

[John] No, I don’t.

– She’s a sweetheart. – She is a sweetheart.

We’re making it about people who are about to make it,

who didn’t make it, who are gonna make it.

Now, here’s Bob, right?

He’s been in Hollywood for two years from Brooklyn, right?

[John] Y-yeah?

And all of a sudden, he’s a big star.

[Bob] I’m not a big star.

That word is not real anymore, man.

He probably has more to say.

That show’s a hit, and he’s the biggest hit–

I was telling him the first night

that you came to Hollywood

and you said, “My God, should I shave?”

– [chuckles] – Right?

‘Cause all of a sudden, everybody knows you.

And they didn’t know you the last time you were here, right?

Uh, no– oh, my friends knew me.

[interviewer] Well, I’m not talking about your friends.

I’m talking about people just walking in the door

– at the Comedy Canteen. – No.

No, they didn’t know me, no.

[interviewer] But they did this time?

Some knew me. Some…

will never know me.

Some don’t care.

psychedelic music

[John] Dearest Judy,

I’ve never doubted your love for me.

I have doubted your faith in me.

Experience has taught you that.

When I dislike myself,

I think the people who like me are fools

to like an asshole like me.

I know I’m inconsistent. I work very hard.

I don’t want to be like my dad.

He never talked to my mom. I am better, aren’t I?

I’m trying to be clear,

but it’s hard to understand and explain.

Maybe it’s nothing, a coke paranoia.

I want to be with you for the rest of my life,

but I don’t think you believe me.

I know what I’d like to do after we talk more.

One, buy new clothes.

Two, stay away from drugs and drug people.

Three, try to exercise. Four, lose weight.

Five, stay home with you and talk.

Six, go out more with you. Seven, stop seeing others.

Eight, understand other’s needs.

Nine, be happy.

Ten, love you.

Please, let’s talk.

harmonica music

[Judy] For about a month, we didn’t live together, and then one day, he came back. He convinced me that he loved me and that he couldn’t always do what I was hoping, but this time was unique and that we were gonna change our trajectory. We decided to go to Aspen for vacation. My brother lived in Aspen, and I heard him tell my brother we were gonna get married while we were there. Meanwhile, I personally had forgotten the idea of getting married because of the way things had just sort of all gone. I said, “John, I heard you say to my brother that we were gonna get married.” And he said, “Well, yeah. Aren’t we?”

dark rock music

[John] My dear sweet Judy, a letter is so inadequate to explain how I feel about you. It’s just there, living inside of me, a living organism that I need to live. To my first and only Valentine forever.

Love, John.

[Rosie] He was obviously experiencing some wild peaks and some dark troughs.

[Tanner] And then he and Judy got married, and things really settled down.

[Rosie] Exactly. It just seemed like he needed that.

[Harold] I went to visit John at Saturday Night, and I remember walking down the street with all these people I’d been with when we had nothing, when just having a job was good enough. And now I looked behind us, and limousines were slowly following us down the street, you know? Seemed like they were the beginnings of a kind of wretched excess. You know, for John, who lived for so long with some sense of destiny, what was kind of a hopeful arrogance, you know, turned into a kind of expectation of his own success. And that was before Animal House.

All right, you bastard. Let’s go, right here!

upbeat oldies music

Hey, baby, won’t you take a chance…

Food fight!

[students clamoring]

[Harold] My wife at that time said, “You’ve always wanted to write a movie about your college experience.”

So Doug Kenney and I started writing, and then Doug and I recruited Chris Miller, who was the Lampoon’s resident college expert.

[Chris Miller] One thing about Animal House is that, at the center of every great animal house, there was a great animal.

And we looked at each other for a beat, and we all simultaneously said, “Belushi.”

[glass shatters, cans rattle]

[Landis] And the script wasn’t designed for Bluto to burst through.

It’s just, John burst through.

Mr. Blutarsky…

zero-point-zero.

He’s the ladies’ man

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

“Germans”?

Forget it. He’s rolling.

Let’s do it!

[men shouting]

Holy shit!

Animal house

Seven years of college down the drain.

Animal house

[Landis] In the script,

John’s character had much more dialogue than he does in the movie.

I took most of his lines away because this idea of Bluto as kind of– you know, I told him to channel Harpo Marx and the Cookie Monster.

It’s just appetite.

Don’t know much biology…

[Landis] And what Belushi had that was so great–

you actually can watch his thought process.

[chuckles] You know, you can see the ideas seeping through his skull.

[slurps]

[Landis] But what both the Cookie Monster and Harpo have, despite their destructive tendencies, is they’re both very, very sweet, and that’s the strength of John’s performance.

[car slams into wall]

Good.

[Flounder sobbing]

[Landis] And a lot of the stuff that people remember is just John.

Hey.

[Flounder sobs]

[Landis] There was a scene where he’s cheering up Flounder.

To me, it’s this examination of John.

[smooching]

[Landis] Because he really did want you to have a good time, and he could do the most outrageous and totally unforgivable behavior…

[crying]

[Landis] …because he was so damn charming.

[Ivan] John came to this movie ready to work.

He went there with Judy. They rented a great house.

It was a very familial affair.

He was there with all guns blasting.

He was very creative.

There was no weirdness; there was no acting out.

[Bruce] John, you know, thought of himself as a physical God. I think he probably would’ve thought he could be a ballet dancer if somebody asked him to. But he always introduced me as, “Oh, this is my friend Bruce. He’s a great actor.” And after a while, I said, “John, why do you make that distinction? You’re an actor, I’m an actor. What’s the deal?” He said, “Oh, no, I’m a sketch player.” And I think that’s one of the things that drove John and frustrated him so, is that he was so talented and what he did came so naturally and without apparent effort on his part that he kept thinking somebody was gonna find out he wasn’t really doing anything. He was just cutting up. The deal is he was cutting up as one of the world’s most talented physical comics ever.

[interviewer] How do you think the movie is coming along?

Are you pleased with it?

[John] I’m very pleased with it.

I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

[Ivan] It was really one of the most remarkable previews I’d ever gone to.

I’ve had some very big hits since then, but I’ve still never had a screening like that one.

[urine splattering]

Excuse me, sir. Is this the Delta house?

Sure.

[urine splattering on fabric]

[zipper closes]

Come on in.

[Ivan] From the moment Belushi appeared on the screen and peed on the freshmen’s trousers, the audience went crazy and didn’t stop going crazy, and if they could’ve torn seats out, literally, they would have.

[Shalit] What about Animal House?

It’s a comedy that I did, and it’s coming out today.

It’s a stroll down memory lane with a blowtorch.

Toga! Toga!

[all chanting] Toga, toga, toga!

[reporter] It is toga fever, and it is sweeping college campuses throughout the country.

[Landis] Something that happened to John is instant stardom.

I mean, he was a television personality on a late-night fringe show, and then out of this movie comes this stardom, and that’s terrifying.

[Sean] Around the movie, there was this craze.

So Newsweek put him on the cover.

That was certainly, you know, turning him into a famous face.

It’s more difficult after that.

[Laila] John was way more comfortable onstage than anywhere else.

And I always said to him, “I don’t understand how you can do that. Get up on the stage, you have no fear whatsoever.”

And he always said, “Yeah, but you do the thing that I can’t do, which is you’re more comfortable in life. I don’t know how you do that.”

[Penny] He didn’t really talk to me about the difference between movie stardom and television stardom or that.

He did want to conquer all mediums.

I think one of his biggest prides was his success with the Blues Brothers act.

He was just ecstatic.

[emcee] We’re very fortunate to have this person with us– Mr. John Belushi. Can we bring him out here?

[cheers and applause]

Johnny Lee’s “Hey Bartender”

Went partying the other night

Started drinking and got real tight

I blew each and all my friends

Felt so good, I had to blow again

I said, “Hey, bartender”

[John] I got turned on to blues when I was filming Animal House.

I mean, really into it, you know what I mean?

So I’ve spent the last year trying to learn

as much as I could, you know, about blues.

One more time!

I’d carry albums with me.

When I would just go see somebody or I’d go to work,

listening–I mean, I’d drive my friends nuts, you know?

Draw a-one, two

Three more glasses of beer

– [glass shatters] – [cheers and applause]

[Laila] He said to me,

“We’re gonna do the Blues Brothers.

We’re gonna do, like, a band.”

And he got Danny to play harmonica, you know?

And then he said, “Okay, Judy, you’re gonna be the designer

and, Laila, you’re gonna be the president

of the Blues Brothers,

and you’re gonna put it all together.”

I think John used the blues as a way

to keep everybody together.

[Tanner] To sort of create a family?

[Laila] Yes.

[Aykroyd] You know, it was a real common effort,

but mainly led by John, you know? He really–

It came out of trust and people saying, you know,

they weren’t sure what it was.

I knew what it was. I knew exactly what it was gonna be.

[Aykroyd] But they all showed up. We got the best musicians in the world.

Went partying the other night

Started drinking and got real tight

I blew each and all my friends

Felt so good, I had to blow again

I said, hey…

[Laila] A lot of people thought that it was kind of a joke. I don’t think people realized that we really had a great band and that John could really sing.

Three more glasses of beer

[Laila] Once we actually performed, I think we put to rest that it wasn’t a joke, and it was a love of the music that was driving John.

Come on down and drink with me

I said, “Hey, bartender”

[Aykroyd] The whole thing, it’s a theatrical thing. Like, you know, Greek theater has the mask, you know? Well, the Blues Brothers have the shades and the suits.

[John] So it basically looks like ’50s hipster junkie.

[Aykroyd] They look like cops.

They look like hit men, you know?

[John] Rabbis. Some guys thought–

[Aykroyd] But the fact is that Jake and Elwood aren’t any of those things.

They’re just, like, musicians, you know?

Well…

[interviewer] And here you are on television every week.

What I’m getting from you is that underneath it all of it, the biggest fantasy is to be a rock-and-roll star.

That’s it, pal.

[laughter]

Hey, bartender

Hey, bartender

Hey, bartender

Draw a-one, two

Three more glasses of beer

[cheers and applause]

[Judy] Atlantic Records wanted to do a live album,

and that first night at Universal Amphitheatre,

the crowd was just wild.

You know, John had loved being in a band and wanted a band, and now he had a band.

The best band in the world. [chuckles]

And I just thought, “My God, they did it.”

The Blues Brothers’ “She Caught the Katy”

We recorded the album, and it was released

and pretty quickly went to number one.

triumphant blues music

She caught the Katy

And left me a mule…

[Mitch] That’s when the 1941 deal came down, and he turned to me and said, “It’s done. You know, I’m working with Spielberg, and I think this means I’m set.” And left me a mule to ride

My baby caught the Katy…

[Mark] Boy, you must be a busy guy.

You do Saturday Night Live; you have time for movies;

you have time for the Blues Brothers projects.

[John] Plus, I mean, I’m a night manager at Burger King.

I have to keep working. You know, I’m like a shark.

If I stop, I’ll die.

[host] John? Hello?

[John] Hello, hello, hello!

[caller] Hello.

[John] Hello!

[host] So why did you call, dear?

[caller] I called because

he’s the greatest guy on Saturday Night Live.

[John] Aw.

[caller] If he just keeps on doing what he’s doing,

he’s gonna make so many people in the world so happy.

[John] Well, I hope so. Thank you.

[host] Thank you. All right. Let’s take another call.

Let’s see. Hello?

[Judy] On his 30th birthday, the Blues Brothers were number one, he was on the number one television show, and Animal House was the number one grossing comedy. He was high on his success, but he was unsure of what people wanted from him and how to relate to people.

[host] All right, one more. Hello.

[caller] Hello?

[John] Hello!

[Judy] That was a difficult change for him.

[host] BCN here.

[caller] Yes, I have one question.

[John] Yeah, sure.

[caller] What is your drug of preference?

[John] Uh…

[host] That’s a good question.

Go ahead, John. You can answer that.

[John] Um…

I don’t–I don’t– I don’t tell people that.

[host] Right.

[John chuckles]

That’s a very good answer.

[Tony] He was a very American-like force. I felt that what made you laugh about John was peculiarly American.

The raw energy of this country was summed up in the way he hit the stage, but at the same time, I’ve always felt that there’s an enormous void at the center of America, a void that has to do with promise and disappointment and impossible expectations.

Behind all this energy comes what?

The American dream is ultimately just a dream.

When you finally get where you’re going, what then?

[telephone rings]

Hello? Olympia Restaurant.

[fry cook] Cheeseburger, cheeseburger.

Two Pepsi, one chip!

Yeah. To go?

Four cheeseburger.

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.

No–no fries. Chips.

[Jim Belushi] The one character that I know definitely comes from, you know, the family is the “cheeseburger, cheeseburger” guy.

No Coke, no orange, no grape? Okay.

[Jim Belushi] When I watched the character, I went,

“My God, that’s my dad.”

I don’t want a cheeseburger. Eggs over lightly with sausage.

No, no, no, no; no eggs. Cheeseburger.

You stopped serving breakfast?

No. No breakfast.

No breakfast?

No.

All right. I just want a couple eggs.

No breakfast. Cheeseburger, huh?

I don’t want a cheeseburger.

It’s too early for a cheeseburger.

Too early for cheeseburger? Look.

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger,

cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.

[both] Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.

[laughter and applause]

I’ll have a cheeseburger.

bluesy rock music

[family member] Here we are up in Julian, California.

And up here coming towards us, Adam Belushi.

[pants] That’s difficult.

[Judy] With the first money we really had, one of the things we did was to get a ranch in California for his parents. They weren’t terribly close, but he loved them, and he wanted to do nice things for ’em. They were immigrants who, in one generation, had a son who had reached heights they couldn’t have imagined. But it just didn’t seem to make a difference to their relationship. One of the things that John struggled with in his emotional life was thinking his parents weren’t happy. Adam seemed depressed, and Agnes was up and down, maybe bipolar. He felt that his success was supposed to help heal the family, yet he couldn’t make that happen. It was very painful. I think it really crushed him.

Hi, Jane. How are you?

Hi, Dan. Fine.

How’s Patrick?

He’s good.

I hear John’s still out in California.

What’s he doing, eight to ten for possession?

No, no. He’s really quite sick.

He has a bad ear infection. He can’t go up in an airplane.

Like, he can’t land, or his ear drum will burst, so…

Oh, I sure hope he didn’t catch it listening to himself sing.

I’ll see you, Dan.

Sure.

funky rock music

[Lorne] In the course of 20-some-odd shows a year, now, suddenly,

John was often a bigger star than the host.

He was making 1941.

There’s a short film that I’ve never run with John sitting around a pool, ’cause it was the one time John missed a show.

[Tanner] Right…

[Lorne] …because he broke his leg or hurt his leg or–

[Tanner] An ear infection.

[Lorne] Whatever.

Okay.

[Tanner] Yeah.

[Lorne] Whatever it was, he couldn’t get on the plane, blah, blah, blah. And they made this film for the show, which was all about kissing John’s ass.

[Tanner] Mm-hmm.

[Lorne] I think we all just felt,

“Hey, you can’t do this.”

[Tanner] Yeah, everyone says that, you know, people didn’t realize his problem was as bad as it was because he always pulled it together at 11:30.

[Lorne] Yeah.

[Tanner] The Kate Jackson show.

[Lorne] Yes. Here’s the story, okay?

John is the fucking center of the show.

It’s about Fred Silverman,

and he’s playing Fred Silverman.

[Charlie] You all remember Freddy Silverman?

[Lorne] He’d been out with, like, Ronnie Wood, you know?

And he was a mess. And he was coughing, you know.

He looked terrible, and the doctor says,

“John can’t go on.”

And I was just somewhere between rage

and very little sympathy.

And I said, “Well, what happens if he does it?”

He said, “Well, he could die.”

And I said, “What are the odds of that?”

And he said, “50/50.”

And I said, “I can live with those odds.”

John looked at me, he opened his eyes,

and he did the show.

And he was bad.

dissonant dramatic music

I think he did everything he could to hang on that year,

but John didn’t know how to do anything except full throttle.

So being a movie star meant, in his brain,

that he had to turn his back on this other thing.

[cheers and applause]

I think he never reconciled it,

and he got deeper and deeper into the unhappiness

that comes with living

for what everybody else says is the ideal life, you know?

[cheers and applause]

blues music

[crew member] Mark.

– [emcee] John Belushi! – [cheers and applause]

– [host] How are ya? – [John] I’m fine.

[host] You’re up doing the movie today?

[John] Oh, yeah. We’re doing Blues Brothers.

– [Aykroyd] Yeah. – [cheers and applause]

Well, me and the Lord…

we got an understanding.

We’re on a mission from God.

Sometimes I wonder

[Sean] Danny and John called me, and they said,

“I think there’s a movie.”

And it told the saga of these brothers–

how Jake had been in prison,

how Elwood had to wait for him,

how they had to save the orphanage.

All against the backdrop of their hometown of Chicago.

[Landis] It was very important that it be Chicago.

I mean, John, he was like– he was a god in Chicago.

[emcee] Ladies and gentlemen, “Joliet” Jake Blues,

– John Belushi! – [cheers and applause]

[Carrie] John was just this big event.

Once you have that kind of television fame,

you belong to people.

You live in their homes, in their TV sets.

Everyone felt they knew him and could just come up to him

and give him drugs or do whatever

because he was their friend.

[Shalit] Okay, let’s go. Thank you very much.

Does it disturb you to be an idol?

[John] Yeah.

[Gene] Does it disturb you that so many people know you

and grab you and recognize you?

[John] Yeah, yeah, you feel like a freak.

[host] Is your family theatrical at all?

Not at all, no.

– What’d your father do? – He was a hit man.

These are all personal questions I’m not gonna answer.

We can talk about television. We can talk about movies.

Want to talk about something like that, okay?

My personal life really doesn’t mean anything.

– You don’t want to do that? – No, I don’t.

[camera shutters clicking]

[Carrie] He enjoyed it for a while,

and then I think he felt more haunted by it.

[Mitch] I know there was a period where

it got really frenetic,

and so they opened a Blues Bar in Chicago.

[Aykroyd] I was up late with him and partying

up at Chicago Blues Bar virtually every night.

You know, we’re having a lot of fun,

24 hours, 365,

going out and immersing ourselves in the music

and going to Maxwell Street

and really living what we were making the movie about.

We owned the town. We owned the city of Chicago.

You know, we used to hail police cars on the way home.

And to own a city and have a partner to share it with,

that was just, you know, the peak of life.

[crew member] Roll camera!

blues music

[Aykroyd] One night, nobody could find John.

Someone said, “Well, I saw him walking over across the street

and went into that neighborhood over there.”

I went to a house, knocked on the door,

and a guy came to the door, and he said,

“Oh, yes. Mr. Belushi– he’s in on the couch.

He’s asleep.”

Turned out John had walked off the set,

gone to somebody’s house, knocked on the door, said,

“You know who I am. John Belushi.

I’m tired. I’m hungry.”

He walked into the guy’s fridge,

made himself a sandwich, had a glass of milk,

and then said, “Can I crash out on your couch?”

Perfect stranger.

Answers, cast, ready for rehearsal, please.

[Carrie] Danny was the one

that used to call him “America’s guest,”

because he could go to anybody’s house

and sleep in their beds and eat their food

and watch their TV,

and there was no stopping John doing anything.

Somehow, he got it into his head

that I should date Danny.

So then Danny and I started meeting in parking lots

and making out.

And it was John’s favorite thing ever.

The arrangement was

John and I were the bad kids,

and Danny and Judy

were the police.

[Mrs. Murphy] Help you boys?

– You got any, uh, white bread? – Yes.

[Elwood] I’ll have some toasted white bread, please.

[Mrs. Murphy] You want butter or jam on that toast, honey?

No, ma’am. Dry.

Got any fried chicken?

Best damn chicken in the state.

[Jake] Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.

You want chicken wings or chicken legs?

Four fried chickens and a Coke.

And some dry white toast, please.

Y’all want anything to drink with that?

– No, ma’am. – A Coke.

Be up in a minute.

We got two honkies out there

dressed like Hasidic diamond merchants.

Say what?

They look like they’re from the CIA or something.

What they want to eat?

The tall one wants white bread,

toast, dry, with nothing on it.

Elwood.

And the other one wants four whole fried chickens

and a Coke.

And Jake! Shit, the Blues Brothers!

[Landis] On The Blues Brothers,

John was different, and it was hard.

But you know that whole thing about America’s guest?

Well, it’s true.

He could be abrupt and unpleasant,

but most of the time he was totally charming,

and people adored him.

Having said all this–

and I don’t want to make it sound worse than it was,

because I don’t think we lost four or five days shooting

at the most because of drugs, which is a lot–

but there’s a couple of times on the movie

when I was really worried about his health.

And you can see it, you know?

There’s some scenes where he’s there

and some scenes where he’s not.

It’s 106 miles to Chicago.

We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes,

it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Hit it.

rock music

[Carrie] Traveling at the high speeds he did,

he was just really way out of control.

And the more they tried to control him,

the more insane it got.

Hey!

Hey!

Hey!

[wailing sirens fade]

[Aykroyd] It was clear to everyone at that point

that John had a problem with cocaine.

[Carrie] There was a point where everyone said,

you know, “He’s really killing himself.”

And then when he didn’t, then, you thought,

“Well, maybe John’s right. Maybe he is invincible.”

[Laila] John would be okay for a while,

and then he would go on a bender,

and he would feel so guilty and so tormented by it.

It was just terrible.

He just felt like he’d let everybody down, you know?

And in those days, people thought it was, like,

a question of self-will or whatever, and it isn’t.

It’s a disease and has nothing to do with willpower.

But we didn’t understand that.

[Mitch] It started to slip

into something that was hurting him,

’cause he used to come over

and sleep on my couch sometimes.

And it would keep me up all night

because his sleeping was so wet,

the sound in his chest was so heavy

that I was worried that he wasn’t gonna wake up.

Now, you know, I had, like, a few nights of it,

scattered, you know, when he’d be at the house,

but that’s how Judy lived.

You could leave as a friend.

You could just go do your life,

but that was her life.

[wind blowing]

[Judy] John’s drug abuse was disturbing to everyone.

We had some conversations about rehab,

but he didn’t like that idea.

I know I spoke, myself, to some doctors who had told me,

“Wait till he’s passed out and then call,”

and they would make the arrangements and commit him.

But I just– I couldn’t do that.

And that was when Nana had a heart attack at the ranch.

And John was not being cooperative.

He didn’t want to go.

He said, “I know what she’s doing.

She’s waiting for me to come so she can die.”

I said, “Why don’t you give her that,” you know?

“Why don’t you let her have that, John?”

So we went.

He was making the nurses laugh and he made Nana laugh

and he was kind of pretending to scold her

for making everybody worry.

And then he put his head down on her pillow

and fell asleep.

She said, “Johnny tired. Go home.

Go sleep. Sleep late.”

I remember something about “don’t get up early”

or something.

The next morning, the call was that she died,

and he just broke down.

I think that’s when he began to realize

that he’d crossed into really dangerous behavior

and needed to find a way out.

And bringing in Smokey was something he thought

was gonna help.

[Aykroyd] Let’s talk about Smokey.

Smokey was Richard Nixon’s

primary Secret Service bodyguard

from the time Nixon went to China

through the end of his presidency.

So Smokey was eminently qualified

to handle difficult problems,

and he kept the scum balls and the sleazebags

away from John.

Between Judy, myself, and Smokey,

we were able, really, to keep John straight,

and, of course, you know,

it didn’t seem that John wanted to help himself,

really, until that point.

rock music

[Shalit] Is there life after Saturday Night,

after Animal House, after The Blues Brothers?

John Belushi, you have a new movie called

– Continental Divide. – [John] Right.

[Shalit] It is, to me, a turning point in your career.

Hey, man. I seen this one before.

– You’re what’s-his-name. – That’s right.

The character’s different than the other characters

I’ve played in the past.

This character can read and write.

– [chuckles] – [John] I play a reporter.

They send me out to do an interview with this woman.

[Shalit] Now, this film is a risk for you, because your fans are gonna go expecting to see Animal House.

[John] Yeah, they’d love to have me do Animal House Goes To Camp, Animal House Joins the Army, Animal House Rides the Space Shuttle, you know?

But that’s not the way I work.

[Shalit laughs]

[Michael] he had it in him to be a terrific actor

rather than just a comedian,

and he really worked hard at it.

He lost 40 pounds.

You know, he was working out all the time.

He was very focused about his life and his work.

This was, I think, a good time for him.

[Shalit] People say you work under such a frenetic pace.

Do you see the world different now?

Are you a little bored? Do you take time off?

Do you lounge around now?

I’m enjoying life a little more.

I’m finding out what to do with my spare time.

[Shalit] Find out who you are yet?

Yeah, yeah, I think so.

[Shalit] Who are you? Are you Bluto?

Are you Mike Royko? Who are you?

I don’t know. I’m just an actor.

Yeah, honey, something special just for you

Yeah.

[cheers and applause]

[Judy] Times were good.

We were staying at Martha’s Vineyard

because we bought a new house.

He’d begun to, you know,

kind of calm down, settle down,

not be as interested in the whole social scene.

John, where are you?

[John] Over here.

You up there?

[Judy] Yes. What are you doing?

Well, I’m preparing the barbecue tonight.

[Judy] That’s good.

We’re having steak and sausage.

And you see, I cleaned the grill.

Big Bill Broonzy’s “Trouble in Mind”

Get out of my kitchen. Get out.

– [John] Mmm. – [Judy] Mmm.

No, no, no, no!

[John] Judy, we’re going out to the beach now.

[Judy whistles]

And if the blues overtake me

Gonna rock right away from here

[Aykroyd] It was a summer of just sun-filled days,

soaking in the sea.

Every day, we swam.

The whole summer was basically clean.

There was no coke at all for the entire summer.

[John] I’m going out for croquet.

– [John] Yes, sir. – Yes, sir.

I don’t care if I die

[Siskel] You’re a big movie star.

Your pictures make money.

Are you as happy as you seem to me to be right now?

Yeah. This year, yeah.

[cheers and applause]

[Judy] John was, you know,

feeling pretty good about himself.

We had Smokey with us,

and he saw John doing well

and decided that it was time to go.

And I remember Smokey went to him, “No, you’re good.

You don’t need me. You’ll be fine.”

And when he left, John was concerned.

[Carrie] We were up in Martha’s Vineyard.

And I just remember him stripped to the waist

with this belly out,

and he was sort of howling at the moon

and saying, “You and I are alike.

We’re addicts!”

[Tanner] He was mostly clean for over a year.

[Carrie] Well, that must’ve been a screaming hell for him.

Drugs aren’t the problem. Sobriety is the problem.

Because he had no support group

to sort of tell him how to deal with what comes up

when you stop doing drugs.

You’re not doings drugs for no reason.

And so once your management medication is removed,

all those feelings that it’s been sitting on come up,

and you have no coping skills.

[waves crashing]

So you can’t trust yourself.

[feedback whining]

[guitar chords reverberate]

[indistinct chatter]

[Mitch] You know,

John gave me all his blues albums at one point,

and it was really a drag because he just said,

“Yeah, I don’t listen to this shit anymore.

Fuck this.

I’m just gonna listen to Fear and the Dead Kennedys.”

– [Tanner] Yeah. – [Mitch] Punk and stuff.

Yeah. I mean, I hated that shit.

[punk rock music playing]

But when you look at it, in retrospect, it coincided

with a particularly chaotic and dark thing in him.

I don’t need anyone

Don’t need no mom and dad

Don’t need no pretty face

[Harold] You know, for John, you know,

it’s a classic addictive pattern, you know?

It’s what makes an addict an addict,

is the expectation that if you just get more of your drug

that you will, you know,

finally cross over some threshold

or find some permanent satisfaction,

but you can’t get high enough, you can’t get famous enough,

you can’t get rich enough

to kind of fill those great holes, you know,

he had created himself.

[Carrie] John didn’t have a limit on anything.

Usually people have in them

a thing where you go, “Ooh-ooh.

That’s too much.”

But John didn’t have whatever that is.

John took heroin.

[cheers and applause]

[vocalist] John Belushi. John Belushi on drums.

dark music

[Earl] Enid?

Someone’s moving into the Warren place.

What do you say, neighbor?

Welcome to the end of the road, I guess. [chuckles]

[Harold] As big a star as he was,

I think John was groping for a film image.

He called me at one point and he said,

“Yeah, I’d love for you to read a screenplay.

I’m thinking about directing it.”

And I said, you know, “Send it over,

and I’ll get to it when I can.”

“Well, no, you kind of have to read it now.”

I said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “It’s Neighbors.”

“But aren’t you already shooting that movie?

You know, you have a director.”

menacing bass chords

[Judy] Dan and John were very excited

and started to work with Avildsen, the director.

And immediately John was really worried that the film,

rather than being the black comedy that the book was,

it was taking on a much more cartoony

and silly perspective.

And true to form, he was fighting that.

[Aykroyd] John Avildsen did not present himself

as a strong presence,

and John perceived weakness right there.

It was like the Battle of the Bulge.

The Allied lines were weak,

and the panzers rolled right into the weak spot.

[Judy] John felt isolated and frustrated,

and that’s when everything fell apart.

[Tanner] Now, on the Neighbors set,

– Smokey was not there. – [Aykroyd] Yeah.

And when we got to nights,

the drugs became available again.

[painting clatters]

[Zanuck] I never sensed that there was anything going on

until we actually started that week of night shooting.

slowly building punk rock

It was pretty horrifying, quite frankly.

And I liked John, but it wasn’t John.

He wouldn’t come out of his trailer.

We’d go in, and the music would be blasting away.

I won’t believe that this is all

He’d be in his undershorts and was totally out of it.

No more, no more, no more

No more, no more, no more, no

[Zanuck] One time, we had two guys standing behind him

holding him up off camera, you know?

I mean, that’s the kind of shape he was in.

He couldn’t control it,

and then no one could control him.

Joy Division’s “I Remember Nothing”

dark rock music

We

Were strangers

We

[Mitch] John’s choices had always been America’s choices.

What he wanted to do was kind of resonating

with the country that way, and…

the choices weren’t doing that anymore.

But John could’ve failed, and Hollywood–

he could’ve done ten movies in a row,

and they still would’ve wanted him for the 11th.

You know, there was nobody like him.

But the thing with cocaine is that it puts you

in a vulnerable place.

His strength and confidence and positive way

were being eroded by all of it, and…

he just allowed it to affect him.

And in the old days, nothing could affect him.

[Shalit] What do you want to be doing ten years from now,

John Belushi?

– Fiddler on the Roof. – [Shalit] Okay.

And, Dan Aykroyd, ten years from now?

– Directing him in Fiddler. – [laughs]

I don’t know, I don’t know. I’ll work with this guy.

I’ll be working with this guy in ten years.

solemn music

[Judy] He always promised that he would try to do better

and that I had to trust that he loved me

and that, even when things were difficult,

that I could count on him.

But every time John went into that spin cycle,

it would immediately put me back into a feeling of panic,

of, like, “Oh, no.”

[chuckles] “I thought this was over.”

I had begun to see a psychiatrist.

And what my doctor immediately said is, you know,

“You have to focus on yourself and work on yourself.”

It just sort of brought home how things move so quickly,

and there was so much to do all the time.

Helping him get the things done he needed,

I didn’t think about myself, really.

[typewriter clacking]

John was supposed to go to LA

to start working on a script with Don Novello, Noble Rot.

And normally I would’ve gone with him,

but my psychiatrist asked me to commit

to staying in the city for three months at least

to work with him.

And I told him that it was really hard for me not to go,

that John needed me, and he said,

“Well, what are you afraid of?”

[typewriter clacking, bell dings]

[Dick] John and I got together

when I had moved out to Los Angeles,

and he would just kind of sit down and have dinner with us,

and he wanted to get the band together and play again.

That was his really big thing.

light rock music

And he said, “Who can you get?”

And I said, “Well, Tony’s out here.

We’ll get Tony to play guitar. I’ll play bass.

You’ll be on drums.”

And we actually did a job, believe it or not.

We played the wrap party for Taxi.

“Louie Louie” playing

Whoa-oh

[indistinct signing]

He was reaching out for everybody

and trying to reconnect.

It was something that we never spoke of

other than the fact that we all kind of enjoyed

that we were all back in each other’s lives a little bit.

dark music

[Mitch] He got Dick Blasucci

and a couple of other guys from Wheaton together

and played this wrap party.

– [Tanner] Yeah. – [Mitch] And it was really

this grasp for nostalgia,

you know, for the innocent days.

[Harold] So I hardly ever saw him,

but I saw him at a party.

He looked exhausted.

And he laid his head on my shoulder,

and all he said was, “Oh, Harold.

Oh, Harold.”

Just couldn’t even articulate anything about his situation.

I just sensed this total despair.

[Mitch] Judy had basically given him an ultimatum.

That’s why she wasn’t with him in California.

Judy was drawing a line in the sand to save him

so they could be together, but, you know, he was,

at that point, afraid that he had lost Judy.

You know, and for all their codependence,

you know, Judy was an anchor for him.

[typewriter clacking]

[Don] After we turned in the script,

I didn’t hear from him for a while.

You know, a couple days I was wondering.

And then he just said, “They don’t like the script.”

They said, though, we can do it,

but I have to do this other movie first, Joy of Sex,

and they want me to wear a diaper.

How’s that, man?

[Mitch] The Joy of Sex

was basically sort of a garbage script

that they were dusting off the heap that,

if they put John’s name on it,

they could guarantee a big opening weekend.

[Don] They just wanted John Belushi,

and they want him to wear a diaper.

They don’t give a shit about him.

This is the thing where John had no one on his side.

I’m the guy, you know, that wrote this with him.

I’m up in Toronto. His wife’s on the East Coast.

He’s got nobody there.

So that’s his state of mind. He’s got no one.

You know, he’s alone.

Man.

[Tanner] Did you sense that things were that bad

in terms of the drug use during that last week?

[Tino] No, he was keeping it from me. He definitely kept it from me. You know, everybody knew about cocaine. I mean, a lot of people were doing cocaine in those days. But the heroin? Never. Never thought of it, never for a minute.

[Aykroyd] Last time I heard his voice, it was on the answering machine, and it was very slurred, and, you know, he was fucked up, and he was hurting. And I called and talked him down, and, you know, he was sad and defeated. He was sad and defeated, and when I said, “John, come on, man, you gotta get home. You gotta get home. You gotta leave Hollywood alone for a while. Let’s approach it from another angle. I’m writing something great here for us that’s gonna solve everything.” I was writing Ghostbusters. So he said, “Okay.” It’s just that his sensitive side caved in and he was numbing the pain and fighting it off. It seemed like, you know, could never get out of that. And I thought, you know, “I better finish this page, this paragraph, and get the fuck out there.” But I didn’t get to him in time. Of course, you know, I carry that with me forever.

[cheers and applause]

[Elwood] My brother, Jake,

would like to become….

increasingly intimate with you.

[cheers and applause]

And he feels that he can unwind a little bit,

sing a song about his personal life.

Here’s my brother, Jake.

Thank you.

[cheers and applause]

The Blues Brothers’ “Guilty”

[John as Jake] Yeah, baby

Yeah, I been drinking

And I

I shouldn’t come by, no

But I found myself in trouble, darling

And I had nowhere else to go

Got some whiskey

From the barman

I got some cocaine

[cheers and applause]

From my friends

I gotta keep on moving, baby

Till I’m back in your arms again

Guilty

Yes, I’m guilty

And I’ll be guilty

For the rest of my life

How come, baby

How come I never do

What I’m supposed to do?

How come everything I try

Never turns out right?

You know how it is with me, baby

You know I just can’t stand myself

It takes a whole lot of medicine, darling

For me to pretend

That I’m somebody else

[cheers and applause]

[Aykroyd] Got the call, and so I immediately got up and began to really motor. It was a beautiful March day. It was a blue sky and sun and everything, and I remember on the way down there and as I just got close to the village, it was already on the newsstand right there– you know, “Belushi dead at 33.”

somber music

[Judy] I heard someone, you know, opening the door, and Danny yelled out for me, and I– his voice, you know, was off. And I knew something was wrong. And I said, you know, “Is he okay? Was there an accident?” And he said, in the most gentle voice… “No, honey, he’s dead.”

[Aykroyd] You know, the pain didn’t come out for me, really, until after the funeral, at my house in Martha’s Vineyard. And everybody was gone, and the snow started to fall– beautiful white snow, you know, and I got down on my knees, and I wept.

[Judy] I always believed that… his true self would shine through and that he wouldn’t ultimately be destroyed by drugs. But I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it all, and I have worked through those things. I don’t, you know… I don’t blame myself… anymore. And the whole experience, my whole life with John, to meet so young and have so many adventures and the love that we shared… I wouldn’t trade.

[host] A final question.

[John] Yeah.

[host] I would like to know how you do what you do.

[John] What are you asking me?

[host] Let’s take the cartwheel. That catches everybody by surprise.

[John] Oh, I’ve been doing that since sixth grade. Everything you do in your life, everything that I’ve ever done in my life, I’ve used on camera somewhere.

[Aykroyd] You can’t ask him this. This is why he’s a star. This is why he’s John Belushi, is because he does these things, and it’s his special energy.

[John] Yeah.

[Aykroyd] You know, he’ll expire on this planet and have left his mark because nobody can learn how to do what Belushi does, and no one ever will, man.

[film reel clicking]

[clicking stops]

“With a Little Help from My Friends”

[indistinct chatter]

What would you do

If I sang out of tune?

[cheers and applause]

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ear

And I’ll, I’ll sing you a song

Oh, I will try not to sing out of key

Oh, baby, I get high with a little help

From my friends

Well, don’t you know, I’m gonna get high

With a little help from my friends

Oh, don’t you know I’m gonna get my friends

High with a little help from my friends

Oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, yeah

Whoo, ooh, ooh

What do I do

When my love is away?

Does it worry you to be alone?

Oh, no

How do I feel at the end of the day?

Are you sad because you’re on your own?

Oh, man, I

High with a little help from my friends

Whoo, ooh, ooh

The Ventures’ “The 2000 Pound Bee, Part 2”

up-tempo rock music

mellow acoustic music

[Judy] Well, I’m a fast-talking

Fast-walking Midwest kid

Never thought I’d grow up

But I’m glad I finally did

I done good in school

I learned to be cool, and it served me well

I married a rebel, I fought with the devil

And I lived to tell

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

There was a time I thought I’d be a virgin all my life

I never thought I would make a wife

When it came round to adultery

Never thought that I was sultry

But you know the best one, kiddo

Never thought I’d be a young widow

You cut the debt, you get what you get

You play your best game, and you never forget that

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

Hello, blue eyes

You are my best surprise

Now you and your sisters

Stand by my side

Times may get rough, we get tougher

We’re not the kind to sit and suffer

I got your backs, and that’s the facts

Because I am your motherfucking mother

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

I lost my good friend today

We had so much more to say now

All we shared

Is in the past

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

These are the best days

These are the best days of my life

These are, these are

These are the best days

Oh, these, these are, these are

These, these are the best days

Of my life

[Judy] Ha ha, that’s it.

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