On December 18, 1997, the world became a little less funny. It’s the date for which comedian Chris Farley died at the young age of 33. A cast member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995, the actor passed away in his high-rise apartment located on the 60th floor of the John Hancock Center in Chicago, Illinois. A week later, the toxicology report confirmed that he died from an accidental speedball overdose, which is a lethal combination of heroin and cocaine.
In the days leading up to Farley’s death, according to EW, he was on a serious party bender through Chicago’s Miracle Mile. At 5’8 and weighing 296 pounds, he visited numerous bars, restaurants and hosted after-parties at his home. The day before his death, Farley reportedly paid a hooker $300 to visit him at 8:30 a.m. Farley was smoking a weed, knocking back screwdrivers, and seemed more interested in ordering cocaine than getting a lap dance. “I don’t think he knew what he wanted,” the call girl said. “You could just tell he was on a rampage… He just kept bouncing from room to room.”
The Chicago Police said that his body was first found by his younger brother, John.
In the final two years of his life, Farley was in and out rehab 17 times for obesity and addiction. While he always delivered on screen with his huge personality and physical comedy, and the Tommy Boy star was able to demand $5 million a movie, Farley remained riddled with anxiety and depression.
He told Playboy magazine in 1997, “I used to think that you could get to a level of success where the laws of the universe didn’t apply. But they do. It’s still life on life’s terms, not on movie-star terms. I still have to work at relationships. I still have to work on my weight and some of my other demons. Once I thought that if I just had enough in the bank, if I had enough fame, that it would be all right. But I’m a human being like everyone else. I’m not exempt.”
Even after the monetary success of the films like Black Sheep and Beverly Hills Ninja, Farley continued to struggle with deep-seated insecurities from being overweight, and the fear of suddenly not being funny anymore. Throughout his entire career, Farley numbed his self-loathing thoughts with a voracious appetite for drugs and alcohol. Friends including SNL producer Lorne Michaels, David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, and his manager tried to make him get help, but nothing seemed to work.
The rise and fall of Farley’s life and career garners many parallels to the comedian he idolized growing up, John Belushi, who in 1992, was found dead from a speedball overdose at Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1997, when asked why he loved Belushi so much, “I don’t know,” Farley said. “I never met the man. Maybe I tried to be. But I don’t think so. Anyway, I’m fatter than him now… Did you know that he died at my age this year, at 33? Yeah. March 5, 1982.”
When he asked about rumors that he used heroin and cocaine Farley said, “Let’s just say I had my share of fun. I worry about talking about this, because I worry about kids who might think, ‘Whoa, man, that’s cool!’ Because in some ways, that’s what I did with my hero, Belushi. I thought that this is what you have to do to be cool. But all that shit does is kill someone. It is a demon that must be snuffed out. It is the end.”