John Belushi was part of the Saturday Night Live comedians crowd of the late 1970s and early 1980s, alongside the likes of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. Following his breakthrough role as college slacker Bluto in National Lampoon’s Animal House, his musical TV sketch with Aykroyd became the cult classic movie The Blues Brothers. But just two years after the comedy’s debut and Belushi was dead at the age of just 33. So what happened?
Throughout his short life, Belushi struggled with drug addiction and even had a cocaine mountain in his trailer on the set of The Blues Brothers.
The film’s director John Landis told Vanity Fair how he discovered the Jake Blues star with the extraordinary amount of drugs.
He recalled: “It’s like Tony Montana. It’s like a joke. I scoop it all up and flush it down the toilet. Probably a lot of money’s worth. So I’m on my way out of the trailer, and John comes in and says, ‘What’d you do?’ Then he pushes me, mostly to get to the table. It’s pathetic. He’s trying to get to the table to save the cocaine.”
Following a scuffle of around 15 seconds, Landis said: “John hugged me and started sobbing and apologised. He and I are sitting there, both crying, and I’m going, ‘John, this is insane.’”
Belushi was discovered dead around midday by his personal trainer and bodyguard Bill Wallace.
He had arrived at the bungalow with a typewriter and cassette recorder at the star’s request and found his body alone.
Cathy was charged with involuntary manslaughter and served 15 months in the California state prison.
Belushi had been set to present the Best Visual Effects Oscar with his Blues Brothers co-star that year. Aykroyd went up alone and said: “My partner would have loved presenting this award with me; he was something of a visual effect himself.”