chris farley: life and locations

Posted on March 15, 2012 by peter bell

Chris Farley, Schillervision Hidden Camera, SNL

From the time Chris Farley entered the limelight on Saturday Night Live to the time he overdosed in his Chicago apartment was a period of only seven years. But in that time, Farley gave audiences a series of memorable performances, hilarious characters, and a mixture of physical comedy and comedic pathos that is still missed.

Christopher Crosby Farley was born the oldest son of Maryann and Thomas Farley, Sr. on Feb. 15, 1964 in Madison, WI. The Farley family was devout Irish Catholic, and Chris attended the Edgewood High School of The Sacred Heart in Madison.

Each summer, Farley would attend Red Arrow Camp in north central Wisconsin. Initially a camper, he later became a camp counselor and would provide standout bits at the yearly camp performance.

Farley attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, graduating with degrees in communications and theater in 1986. After college, Chris went to work with his father at the family business (the Scotch Oil Company) back in Madison. His long-term ambition was to have the same career as John Belushi, and Chris began improv acting at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison.

After a measure of success at Ark, Chris moved to Chicago to hone his craft further at the Improv Olympic Theatre (now called iO Chicago). Farley met future Saturday Night Live collaborators Tina Fey and Mike Myers at iO. Farley also began performing at The Second City in Chicago, the improv theater where John Belushi had performed.

Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley, SNL

While at Second City, Farley met Lorne Michaels (creator/producer of SNL). Michaels recruited him as one of two new additions (the other was Chris Rock) for the 1990-1991 season.

For five years, Farley’s performances on Saturday Night Live added a level of physical and emotional intensity that endeared him to audiences. Off camera, his addiction problems were becoming more pronounced. By 1995, he was the lead in the popular comedy Tommy Boy, but he was also released a year early from his SNL contract.

Farley starred again with David Spade in the 1996 comedy film Black Sheep. The film became a cult hit, but Farley’s drug and alcohol addiction continued. In the book The Chris Farley Show, there is a reprint of a speech he gave at the Hazelden Center City Treatment Center (one of the numerous places Farley sought addiction treatment).

On December 18, 1997, Chris Farley was found dead from a drug and alcohol overdose in his Chicago apartment on the 60th floor of the John Hancock Center. He was thirty-three years old- the same age as John Belushi. On December 22, 1997, a funeral service for Farley was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Madison, WI. Later that day, he was interred in a mausoleum down the street at Resurrection Cemetery.

On August 26, 2005, Farley was honored with a Hollywood star (#2,289) outside the west coast version of the Improv Olympic Theatre (known as iO West). The Chris Farley Foundation continues to operate in honor of his memory, promoting a dialogue on drugs and alcohol to kids through humor.




Los Angeles

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