Even if you’ve never seen Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live, you probably know his most famous tagline: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” During the show’s first season, Chase introduced every episode with that announcement and a subsequent pratfall. Physical comedy became his trademark on the show, and his imitation of the fumbling, bumbling Gerald Ford has been cited as a factor in Ford’s failure to win re-election in 1976.
Chase was Saturday Night Live‘s first breakout star, but he left the show after only one season. He quickly racked up several hit movies like Caddyshack, Fletch, Three Amigos! and a multiple National Lampoon comedies. But in the 1980s his career floundered, and despite several attempts at re-invention — including a short-lived late-night talk show — the elusive Chevy Chase come-back never happened. As Paul Schaffer put it during Chase’s 2002 Friar’s Club roast, “You made us laugh so much. And then inexplicably stopped in about 1978.”
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