Back in the 1990s, Chris Farley was huge (pun non-intended).

His crazy, loud, electrifying comedy style was first seen and heard clearly in Chicago’s Second City Theatre towards the end of the 1980s, only to formally advance to their main stage (that is, making him a principal attraction to the theater) in 1989.

However, his significant breakthrough came in 1990, when he was cast as one of the new members of Saturday Night Live and other comedians as Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, who were also on their way to stardom.

Everything seemed to be going wonderfully for Chris Farley, with a budding film career that saw him in movie successes such as Wayne’s World (1992), Airheads (1994), and Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), but his private life was far from excellent.

Keep reading as we review ten facts about the sad last days of Chris Farley, who wouldn’t live to see 1998.

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10 A Lifetime Of Addiction

When in the inauguration of Planet Hollywood Indianapolis in July of 1997, a friend of Chris told him to take it easier on himself, Farley replied: “I want to live fast and die young,” and all his friends knew that he meant it.

Farley, thirty-three at the time, had been abusing drugs, booze, and food since his early years in comedy, and already during his time in SNL, he would often come to the set too drunk or too drugged to participate and had to be frequently replaced. By late 1996 and early 1997, it was beginning to show.


9 Chris Farley, Devoted Catholic

He hadn’t always been like this, as his Second City Theatre co-star would remember that he attended Mass faithfully in those days as a devout Irish Catholic.

Farley, already overweight and already abusing substances would still have some control over himself in those days.

And though there indeed wasn’t any supernatural intervention (as going to Mass doesn’t cure addictions, at least for the great majority of people), religion was a grounding force in his life, one that started to disappear when he moved to New York, to begin his work with SNL.



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8 Jokes That Went Too Far

During those days, he began to become more and more unhinged, becoming as famous among the SNL cast for his jokes that often went too far as he was with the wider public for his comedic prowess.

What at first began with prank calls done alongside Adam Sandler would later become mooning, moving other cars from a limousine, repeatedly getting naked, and, on one occasion, defecating out of a window.

This made him even more challenging to work with and resulted in his being fired from the SNL cast by NBC in 1995.

7 Sad Seventeen

Between those days and late 1997, Chris Farley would seek help for his addictions at least seventeen times.

A friend would later lament that “they should’ve named a wing after him” in the rehabilitation centers, as he would try everything available to stop drinking, taking drugs, and overeating. That is, everything immediately useful.

But the truth was that Farley wasn’t just abusing all those things just because, and no matter what happened, none of the treatments seemed to tackle the underlying reason for his behavior.

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6 Fat Guy Falls Down

The underlying reason was his profound feeling of self-inadequacy, which he knew how to capitalize into comedy an instrument of coping, but could never exorcise properly.

He would often joke seriously that his whole comedy style was based around the idea of “fat guy falls,” and many believe that part of his frequent regressions to overeating and abuse came from a deep-seated, potent fear that he would no longer be funny if he became thin and stopped being coke-fueled.

Coke would (in part) by the weapon that killed him, but in many ways, it was this inner fear and desire to please what killed him in the end.

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5 Not Exempt

In the end, it seems that Farley easily believed that other people’s approval would make everything right. Behind all that noise and all those shocking gestures, a person was struggling with fear.

In an interview to Playboy magazine on the year of his death, he would clear-sighted state: “Once I thought that if I just had enough in the bank, if I had enough fame, that it would be all right. But I’m a human being like everyone else. I’m not exempt… It’s still life on life’s terms, not on movie-star terms.”

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4 I Can't Breathe

By January 1997, Chris Farley appeared in The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, evidently in an altered state by consuming drugs. In the show, he screamed, he jumped and did gymnastics, and he made the audience roar with laughs.

But a poignant moment came, which foreshadowed his nearby death, when in the middle of a sentence, he interrupted himself and very softly said, “I can’t breathe.”

This moment is what many spectators of that day’s show still remember as a turning point in his downhill spiral, and many would find it hard to watch again.

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3 Gasping And Panting

And indeed, during that same year, he was gasping and panting at every one of his television appearances.

Later in the year, he appeared in a sketch of the Nickelodeon series All That, and he couldn’t perform the many stunts and sudden movements that made his comedic style famous.

For most of the sketch, he would scream and move around a bit, then having to rest against a kitchen island used as a prop while he wasn’t talking.

By all accounts, “he looked really bad,” as a waitress who served him a couple of days before his death would later recall, in a piece for the Rolling Stones magazine.

2 Speedball

It was winter when he began his final spiral of substance abuse and drinking on December 14, 1997.

He would appear dead before the eyes of his younger brother John, on December 18, in his bathroom, after being seen only sparsely since the 14th.

The coroner’s ruling indicated an overdose on a combination of cocaine and morphine (called ‘speedball’) as the cause of his death. It was the same thing that killed John Belushi, his hero, in 1982.

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1 My Hero, John Belushi

Indeed, many of the behaviors evident in Chris Farley can be traced to his devotion to John Belushi, the mythical SNL cast member. His friends would often have to remind him that he wasn’t Belushi and that he didn’t have to be.

And even himself was aware of it, as he said to Rolling Stone magazine on his cocaine addiction: “I worry about talking about this, because I worry about kids who might think, ‘Whoa, man, that’s cool!’ Because in some ways, that’s what I did with my hero, Belushi. I thought that this is what you have to do to be cool. But all that s*** does is kill someone. It’s a demon that must be snuffed out. It is the end.”

It was the end. Like Belushi fifteen years earlier, Chris Farley was thirty-three years old in 1997.

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