John Belushi was an American actor, comedian, writer, and musician who had a net worth of $2 million at the time of his death. That’s the same as around $5 million in today’s dollars after adjusting for inflation. Belushi was a member of the original cast of the NBC sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 1979, and he also wrote for the show. John starred as John Blutarsky in “Animal House” (1978) and Jake “Joliet Jake” Blues in “The Blues Brothers” (1980), and he also appeared in the films “1941” (1979) and “Neighbors” (1981). Belushi was ranked #1 on “Rolling Stone” magazine’s 2015 list of the best “SNL” cast members. Sadly, John died of a drug overdose in March 1982 at the age of 33.
John Belushi was born John Adam Belushi on January 24, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in an Eastern Orthodox Christian household with mother Agnes, father Adam, and younger siblings Jim, Billy, and Marian. Agnes worked at a pharmacy and was born to Albanian immigrants, and Adam owned a restaurant and was an Albanian immigrant. John attended Wheaton Central High School, and in 1965, he formed the band the Ravens with fellow teenagers Phil Special, Michael Blasucci, Dick Blasucci, and Tony Pavilonis. The Ravens recorded the single “Listen to Me Now/Jolly Green Giant” before breaking up, and Belushi sang vocals and played drums. After graduating from high school, John attended the College of DuPage and the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.
In Chicago, Belushi formed the comedy troupe the West Compass Trio with Steve Beshekas and Tino Insana, which caught the attention of Second City founder Bernard Sahlins. In 1971, John joined The Second City, where he met Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Joe Flaherty. In 1972, Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest starred in an Off-Broadway Woodstock parody titled “National Lampoon Lemmings,” and John moved to New York City and began working for “The National Lampoon Radio Hour” as an actor, writer, and director. He met Dan Aykroyd during a 1974 trip to Toronto, and that year “The National Lampoon Show” toured the U.S. In 1975, Belushi auditioned for an upcoming show called “NBC’s Saturday Night” after Chevy Chase and Michael O’Donoghue recommended him to Lorne Michaels. The show later became known as ’Saturday Night Live,” and John became one of the original cast members alongside Chase, Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, and Gilda Radner. On “SNL,” Belushi was known for characters like the Blues Brothers (with Aykroyd), Samurai Futaba, and Olympia Café owner Pete Dionisopoulos.
John appeared in the 1976 TV special “The Beach Boys: It’s OK” (which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd and Lorne Michaels) and the 1978 television movie “The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash,” then he starred in the 1978 films “Animal House” and “Goin’ South.” “Animal House” was ranked #1 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies” list and #279 on “Empire” magazine’s “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time” list, and in 2001, it was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In 1979, Belushi appeared in the drama “Old Boyfriends” and the Steven Spielberg-directed war comedy “1941,” then he and Aykroyd co-starred in the 1980 musical comedy “The Blues Brothers.” As the Blues Brothers, they also released the albums” Briefcase Full of Blues” (1978) and “Made in America” (1980). In 1981, John appeared in the romantic comedy “Continental Divide” and played Earl Keese in “Neighbors,” in what would turn out to be his final role. At the time of John’s death, Aykroyd was writing “Ghostbusters,” intending to star in it with Belushi; John’s role eventually went to Bill Murray.
John married Judith Jacklin, who he met in high school, on December 31, 1976, and they remained married until his death. Judith made cameos in two of Belushi’s films, “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and “The Blues Brothers,” and she published the book “Belushi: A Biography” in 2005. John’s heavy drug use resulted in him being fired and rehired at “SNL” several times. In a 2012 “Vanity Fair” interview, Dan Aykroyd spoke about filming “The Blues Brothers,” revealing, “We had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots. Everyone did it, including me. Never to excess, and not ever to where I wanted to buy it or have it. [But] John, he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night — that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.”
In 1981, Belushi briefly refrained from drug use, but he relapsed while making “Neighbors.” The day before he died, John visited Bernie Brillstein, his manager, and asked him for money, but Bernie declined because he thought John would spend it on drugs. Belushi later returned and asked again while Brillstein had company, and that time, Bernie gave him the money since he didn’t want to rebuke John in front of his visitor. Around noon on March 5, 1982, Belushi’s fitness trainer/occasional bodyguard Bill Wallace arrived at John’s bungalow at the Chateau Marmont to deliver an audiocassette recorder and typewriter and found Belushi dead. Los Angeles medical examiner Dr. Ronald Kornblum concluded that John’s cause of death was acute heroin and cocaine poisoning. Two months after Belushi’s death, Catherine Evelyn Smith admitted that she had given John the drugs that killed him, and she was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter due to a plea bargain, and Smith served fifteen months at the California Institution for Women, a state prison located in Chino. Belushi’s funeral was a traditional Orthodox Christian affair, and he was buried at Abel’s Hill Cemetery on Martha’s Vineyard. John’s tombstone featured the inscription “I may be gone but Rock and Roll lives on” underneath a skull and crossbones. He was later reburied in a nearby unmarked grave due to his fans littering the area around his grave.
Awards and Nominations
Belushi was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards for “Saturday Night Live,” winning Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series in 1977. His other nominations were for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music (1977 and 1978) and Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Program (1979). Posthumously, John shared a TV Land Award nomination for Favorite Elvis Impersonation with Dan Aykroyd in 2007, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.
|Net Worth:||$2 Million|
|Date of Birth:||Jan 24, 1949 – Mar 5, 1982 (33 years old)|
|Height:||5 ft 7 in (1.727 m)|
|Profession:||Comedian, Actor, Screenwriter, Musician|
|Nationality:||United States of America|