The then 33-year-old was found unresponsive at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, California, with a fatal mix of drugs in his system, the Los Angeles Times reported, which LA County coroner Dr. Ronald Kornblum later said could have been inhaled or eaten as well as injected. As Kornblum pointed out, morphine is a byproduct of heroin.
For years, Belushi struggled with drug use; this was documented in Bob Woodward’s biography, Wired, which was published shortly after his death.
Here’s what you need to know:
Belushi Died at the Chateau Marmont In Los Angeles on March 5, 1982
In an excerpt from “The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont”, author Shawn Levy wrote that when Belushi arrived at Chateau Marmont on the afternoon of March 4, 1982, he was, “a time bomb, a waste site, a mess. Sweaty, flabby, edgy, pale, disheveled, worn to a stump at 33.”
The book described the famed SNL cast member as incoherent, confused, and “off” in the days leading up to his death. He had been staying at the Chateau Marmont, working on a script, for approximately a month, and spent the week before his passing “in and around the Sunset Strip, hopscotching from one party scene to the next, be it the Roxy nightclub, Rainbow Bar and Grill and the restaurant Dan Tana’s on Santa Monica Boulevard, to name a few,” wrote Biography.com.
When Robin Williams, who always planned on stopping by Belushi’s bungalow after his night out, eventually made his way to Chateau Marmont, both Belushi and Cathy Smith (a woman who Biography.com described an “addict and sometimes dealer who had been procuring drugs for and administering shots to [Belushi]”) were inebriated. In his excerpt, Levy wrote that Williams quickly left, feeling “creeped out by the scene” at the bungalow.
Later on, actor Robert De Niro stopped by. De Niro had visited Belushi earlier in the evening of March 4, inviting him to join he and actor Harry Dean Stanton at Dan Tana’s with no success. When they returned to Belushi’s room, it was in a state of disarray. He stayed briefly, like Williams before him, before leaving sometime after 3 a.m. As Levy wrote, “Belushi and Smith reportedly continued injecting cocaine mixed with heroin.”
The following morning, Smith signed for breakfast. She reportedly cleaned the room and checked in on Belushi, who was “snoring loudly in bed”, before leaving.
At around noon, Bill Wallace, Belushi’s personal trainer, stopped by his hotel room to find the actor unresponsive. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him to no avail.
Cathy Smith Later Admitted To Administering the Fatal Drugs
Two months after Belushi’s death, Smith admitted in an interview with The National Enquirer that she injected Belushi with the fatal combination of heroin and cocaine.
Smith’s claims led to her arrest, and she was charged with first-degree murder. She pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and spent 15 months in jail at the California Institute for Women.
After her release, according to The Independent, Smith was deported to Canada. There, she is reported to have worked as a legal secretary.
Smith died on August 16, 2020, in British Columbia, at the age of 73.
‘There Were Enough Drugs in His Body To Kill Even a Healthy Man
According to Biography.com, a pathologist later said that Belushi had “enough drugs in his body to kill even a healthy man, which Belushi was not.”
The autopsy cited a number of ailments, such as pulmonary congestion with distended lungs, a swollen brain, an enlarged liver, and obesity.
In 2015, Belushi was named by Rolling Stone as “the greatest of all SNL” comedians.
The outlet wrote of Belushi, “We should have gotten a lot more years with him than we did. But no.”
READ NEXT: Famous Late Night Talk Show Is Ending