Live from New York, it's Saturday Fight! 30 Rockefeller Plaza has been the epicenter of groundbreaking sketch comedy for over 45 years. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the longevity of Saturday Night Live, has been the stellar cast that has propelled the show to fame throughout its impressive run. However, with the egos of dynamic, headlining talent comes the likelihood for budding comedy stars to clash.
Ardent fans still speculate on one such incident reported to have occurred backstage prior to a 1978 episode of the show. Chevy Chase, notorious for being difficult to work with, had returned as host after leaving his position as cast member the season before. Chase's replacement on the Saturday Night Live cast, Bill Murray, reportedly took umbrage to the actor's haughty attitude and opted to confront him prior to the opening monologue. What resulted was a conflict that has become the stuff of legend.
It was on a recent joint appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen that illustrious Saturday Night Live alums, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin, were asked for their unique perspectives on the now-infamous engagement. Newman ruefully confirmed that a fight did indeed transpire in the dressing room of the late John Belushi just moments before the show went live. "It was very sad and painful and awful," Newman said.
Curtin corroborated Newman's account by adding "It was that sad kind of tension that you would get in a family, and everybody goes to their corners because they don't want to have to deal with the tension, and it was uncomfortable. You could understand, you know, there were these two bull moose going at each other, so the testosterone was surging and stuff happens." Newman summarized by saying "I think they both knew the one thing that they could say to one another that would hurt the most, and that's what I think incited it."
The comediennes' accounts helped to flush out a story that has been widely speculated upon for years. During a 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Chevy Chase himself was asked for his viewpoint on the age's old brouhaha. "I was probably a little full of myself after a year of fame...I think that Billy probably wanted to knock me down a couple of rungs, and I think he wanted to take me on," Chase said.
In the same interview, Chase went on to deliver an account of the incident whereby he claimed that words were exchanged between the comedians which escalated into a brief skirmish just before the show that was ultimately broken up by the diminutive Belushi. Chase, however, contends that this decade's old altercation is water under the bridge. Though he would not characterize his present day relationship with Murray as 'close', he says that he has frequently played golf with Bill and considers him a friend.
It's important to note that Chase and Murray would both go on to star in the legendary comedy, Caddyshack, less than two years after the alleged backstage encounter, so "everything worked out", as Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen opined.
Indeed, it seems that storytelling has been the only lasting effect of this notorious interaction. However, for fans of the formative golden ages of Saturday Night Live, the tale of a fight between comedic heavyweights clearly has had the staying power to go the distance. This news comes to us from Yardbarker.