Inside Chris Farley’s life and tragic death at age 33

Chris Farley was known for his loud, energetic comedic style – but he also had an endearing sort of innocence about him.

The talented comedian had childlike wonder in his eyes and always made me laugh, even when he wasn’t trying hard to be funny.

Today, it’s been over 25 years since his tragic death, and it’s so sad that he was taken away from us at only 33 years of age.

Chris Farley was a big part of my childhood; I spent hours watching his movies and skits on Saturday Night Live. By all accounts, he was such a caring person, too.

To this day, I’m still heartbroken over his death, it shocked me that his battle against his inner darkness had to end in such a tragic way.

Chris Farley was born on February 15, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin. He grew up in a wealthy home – his father owned an oil company, and his mother was a homemaker.

After graduating from Marquette University in 1986, Chris entered the world of showbiz. His two brothers, actors Kevin Farley and John Farley, also embarked on a similar career path.

In the late 1980s, Chris Farley moved to Chicago and started performing at Improv Olympic, later joining the Second City Theatre.

The big, boisterous comic made a strong impression on audiences and was soon discovered by the producer of the legendary comedy show Saturday Night Live.

On SNL, Chris became famous for his physical performance/comedy and athleticism. He was an absolute genius on so many levels. Though the raw, over-the-top physical comedy was kind of his trademark, he also performed great skits where he relied more on facial expressions and pure absurdity.

During his spell at SNL, the acclaimed entertainer became one of the biggest comedy stars in the country. His popularity skyrocketed and Farley appeared in many appreciated comedy movies such as Wayne’s World,  Coneheads and Airheads.

But while Chris simply glowed with charisma and comedic genius on the outside, he was hurting badly on the inside. His fans had no idea – but, as we know only too well now, often one’s biggest enemy is oneself.

“Once I thought that if I just had enough in the bank, if I had enough fame, that it would be all right,” he once said, according to IMDb. “But I’m a human being like everyone else. I’m not exempt.”

Sadly, Chris battled with drugs and alcohol for a long time. He was even suspended from the cast of Saturday Night Live due to his addiction.

The great comedian really wanted help, and tried to overcome his unhealthy habits – he went to rehab multiple times and tried group therapy.

But every time he attempted sobriety and managed to quit drinking, he fell off the wagon sooner or later. 

“He’d go away for a month (to a program), quit drinking, lose 65 pounds and look beautiful. Then he’d go away to do a movie and he’d come back heavier. The people who cared for him weren’t around to take care of him when he was off working, just the people who would say yes to anything he wanted,” Charna Halpern, director at ImprovOlympic, told the Arizona Republic in 1997.

Friends and colleagues feared that Chris’ excesses would kill him, and sadly, they were right.

People in the industry knew he was hurting, but no one could pinpoint exactly when he embarked on his self-destructive path. Ironically, his comedy idol, John Belushi, died at the same age in 1982, after going down the same road of destructiveness.

“I really, truly believe that he didn’t change who he was and what he wanted. From the very first time I met him, we always talked about Saturday Night Live and the early stuff with (John) Belushi and Second City, and he followed that route exactly as he planned it. In a way this wasn’t a surprising turn either,” James Grace, a friend and acting colleague, said in 1997. 

“Chris Farley in his personal life was the same as Matt Foley (his character in SNL),” said John Ellis, a family friend and comedian who took classes with Chris. 

“Farley believed he was the same guy off and off the stage”. 

Chris Farley’s cause of death

On December 18, 1997, Chris Farley was discovered dead on the floor by his younger brother John. Chris died in his Chicago apartment after an overdose, exacerbated by advanced heart disease.

He was just 33 years old.

After his death, there were several rumors and reports in the tabloids about Farley’s last days of life, during which he was seen out in Chicago, drinking at bars.

But his father, Thomas Farley, only had one thing to say after Chris’s death.

“I know he’s in God’s hands now,” he told AP.

Over 500 people attended Chris’ funeral when he was buried in his childhood hometown. Many of the comedians who had worked with him on Saturday Night Live came to Madison, Wisconsin, to say a final farewell. 

Among the guests were comedy legends Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Lorne Michaels, Al Franken and John Goodman.

Eight years after his tragic death, Farley was posthumously awarded the 2,289th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his memory continues to live on in all the movies, skits, and other things he did in life.

Chris was a comedic juggernaut, we miss him dearly! He was one of the all-time greats if you look at the actors from that time on SNL.

He made us smile every time we saw him on screen. Unmatched comedic skill! I miss him and his humor.

To this day, I’m still heartbroken over his death – but let’s share this article on Facebook to keep Chris’ legacy alive.