On Saturday, Oct. 11,1975, a sketch-comedy program debuted at 11:30 p.m. on NBC called “Saturday Night Live.” From the outset, the show became known for its edgy and topical humor, impressions of politicians, and performances from little-known comedians and performers.
The show’s first comedy troupe — called The Not Ready for Prime Time Players — was composed of Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman, all of whom used the show to launch movie careers, with varying degrees of success. The show has undergone many cast changes during its long run, and many members have used the program as a springboard to a big-screen career.
As the late-night television institution celebrates its 45th anniversary, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 30 SNL alums who have had the most successful movie careers. We compiled our list by reviewing the websites Internet Movie Database, snl.fandom.com, Box Office Mojo, and the-numbers.com, which provides box office gross data.
SNL has become the longest-running late-night entertainment program in television history — these are the 50 longest running primetime TV shows.
Given that the show has endured for almost 45 years, the comedy has not always been consistently funny. However, several SNL skits proved so popular that they became full-length motion pictures themselves, such as “Coneheads,” “The Blue Brothers,” and the two Wayne’s World films, with the performers of the SNL sketches reprising their roles in those movies.
Some performers such as Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, and Adam Sandler were fan favorites at SNL and became even bigger stars on the big screen. Others, such as Robert Downey Jr. would emerge as celebrated actors in movies and other television programs after leaving SNL and would win Academy and Emmy awards. Here are the actors who have won the most Emmys.
Some SNL cast members’ careers ended tragically. John Belushi and Chris Farley, both known for their energetic comedy style, died from drug overdoses. Gilda Radner, Jan Hooks, and Danitra Vance all succumbed to cancer, and Phil Hartman was shot to death by his wife.