Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase

in March 2010
Birth name Cornelius Crane Chase
Born October 8, 1943 (1943-10-08) (age 68)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Medium Stage, television, film
Years active 1967–present
Genres Sketch comedy, improvisational comedy, physical comedy
Influences Ernie Kovacs
Influenced Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Tim Allen, Will Arnett
Spouse Suzanne Chase
Jacqueline Carlin
Jayni Luke
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series
1976 Saturday Night Live
1978 The Paul Simon Special
Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music
1976 Saturday Night Live

Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase (pronounced /ˈtʃɛvi/; born October 8, 1943) is an American comedian, writer, and television and film actor, born into a prominent entertainment industry family. Chase worked a plethora of odd jobs before moving into comedy acting with National Lampoon. He quickly became a key cast member in the inaugural season of Saturday Night Live, where his Weekend Update skit soon became a staple of the show. Chase is also well-known for his portrayal of the character Clark Griswold in four National Lampoon's Vacation films, and for his roles in other successful comedies such as Caddyshack (1980), Fletch (1985), and ¡Three Amigos! (1986). He has hosted the Academy Awards twice (1987 and 1988) and briefly had his own late-night talk show, The Chevy Chase Show. Currently, he appears as Pierce Hawthorne on the NBC comedy series Community.


Early life


Chase was born in Lower Manhattan, New York City. His father, Edward Tinsley "Ned" Chase, was a prominent Manhattan book editor and magazine writer. His mother, Cathalene Parker (née Browning), a concert pianist and librettist, was the daughter of Miles Browning, who served a critical role at the Battle of Midway in World War II; she was adopted as a child by Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, heir to Crane Plumbing, and took the name Cathalene Crane. As a child, Chase vacationed at Castle Hill, the Cranes' summer estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts.[1]

Chase's maternal grandmother was an opera singer who performed several times at Carnegie Hall. Chase is a fourteenth-generation New Yorker, and was listed in the Social Register at an early age. His mother's ancestors arrived in Manhattan starting in 1624. Among his ancestors are New York City mayors Stephanus Van Cortlandt and John Johnstone; John Morin Scott, General of the New York Militia during the American Revolution; Anne Hutchinson, dissident Puritan preacher and healer; and Mayflower passengers and signers of the Mayflower Compact, John Howland[2] and the Pilgrim colonist leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony, William Brewster. Chase's paternal grandfather was artist/illustrator Edward Leigh Chase, and his great-uncle was painter/teacher Frank Swift Chase.

Chase was named for his adoptive grandfather Cornelius. The nickname Chevy was bestowed by his grandmother, derived from the medieval English The Ballad of Chevy Chase. As a descendant of the Scottish Clan Douglas, the name "Chevy" seemed appropriate to her.[3]

Chase's parents divorced when he was four; his father remarried into the Folgers coffee family, and his mother remarried twice. Both his parents died in 2005. Chase has stated that he grew up in an upper middle class environment and that his maternal grandfather did not bequeath any assets to Chase's mother when he died.[4] Chase has made recent claims that he was abused as a child by his mother and stepfather, John Cederquist.[5]

Schooling and music

He attended at the Stockbridge School[6] in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and attended Riverdale Country School in The Bronx. He then attended Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he studied a pre-med curriculum and graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Chase did not enter medical school, which meant he would be subject to the military draft. Chase was not drafted; when Chase appeared in January 1989 as the first guest of the just-launched late-night Pat Sajak Show, he said he had convinced his draft board he deserved a 4-F classification by "falsely claiming, among other things, that he had homosexual tendencies."[7]

Chase played drums with the college band The Leather Canary, headed by school friends Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Chase has called the group "a bad jazz band"; Becker and Fagen later founded the successful group Steely Dan. Chase is gifted with absolute pitch.[3] He played drums and keyboards for a rock band called Chamaeleon Church, which recorded one album for MGM Records before disbanding in 1969. Before becoming famous as a writer, actor and comedian, Chase worked in many odd jobs including as a cab driver, truck driver, motorcycle messenger, construction worker, waiter, busboy, fruit picker, produce manager of a supermarket, audio engineer, salesman in a wine store, and a theater usher.

Early career

Chase was a member of an early underground comedy ensemble called Channel One which he co-founded in 1967. He also wrote a one-page spoof on Mission: Impossible for Mad Magazine in 1970 and was a writer for the short-lived Smothers Brothers TV show comeback in the early 1970s. Chase made the move to comedy as a full-time career by 1973, when he became a cast member of The National Lampoon Radio Hour, a syndicated satirical radio series. The Lampoon Radio Hour also featured John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and Brian Doyle-Murray, all of whom later became "Not-Ready-For-Prime Time Players" on NBC Saturday Night (later retitled NBC's Saturday Night and finally Saturday Night Live). Chase and Belushi also appeared in National Lampoon's off-Broadway revue Lemmings, a sketch and musical send-up of popular youth culture (in which Chase also played the drums during the musical numbers). He appeared in the theatrical release The Groove Tube which was directed by another co-founder of Channel One, Ken Shapiro, and which featured several Channel One sketches.

Saturday Night Live

Chase was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live (SNL), NBC's late-night comedy television show, beginning in October, 1975. During the full first season, he introduced every show except one by saying, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" The remark was often preceded by a pratfall, known as "The Fall of the Week." Chase has since become known as a genius of physical comedy. In one comedy sketch, he mimicked a real-life incident in which President Gerald Ford accidentally tripped while disembarking from Air Force One in Salzburg, Austria.[8][9] This portrayal of President Ford as a bumbling klutz became a favorite device of Chase and helped form the popular concept of Ford as being a clumsy man.[10] In later years, Chase met and became friendly with President Ford.[11][12] Chase's physical stunts led to at least one self-injury. During a skit in the second season of SNL, the comedian was injured when he fell on an unpadded podium and bruised a testicle. This injury forced him to broadcast two of the show's segments live from his hospital bed.

Chase was the original anchor for the Weekend Update segment of SNL, and his catchphrase introduction—"I'm Chevy Chase... and you're not"—became well known. His trademark conclusion—"Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow"—was later resurrected by Tina Fey. Chase also wrote comedy material for Weekend Update. For example, he wrote and performed "The News For The Hard Of Hearing." In this skit, Chase would read the top story of the day, aided by Garrett Morris, who would repeat the story by loudly shouting it. Chase claimed that his version of Weekend Update would later be the inspiration for other mock-news shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.[13] (Weekend Update was later revived as a segment on The Chevy Chase Show,[14] a short-lived late-night talk-show produced by Chase and broadcast by Fox Broadcasting Company.)

Chase also performed in other skits on SNL, including a recurring gag as a Landshark. His racially-charged "word association" skit opposite Richard Pryor from SNL's first season is frequently cited by television critics as one of the funniest (and most daring) skits in the show's history.

Chevy Chase at the private party after the premiere of the movie A Star is Born, December 1976

Chase became the first breakout star of SNL. He was committed contractually to Saturday Night Live for only one year as a writer, not an SNL cast member. He had signed a one year writing contract and became a cast member during rehearsals just before the show's premiere. Nonetheless, he received two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his comedy writing and live comic acting.

In a 1975 New York magazine cover story which called him "The funniest man in America", NBC executives referred to Chase as "The first real potential successor to Johnny Carson" and claimed he would begin guest-hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson within six months of the article. Chase actually never did guest host the Tonight Show during his early peak years of success, and in fact did not even appear on the program until 1978, when he was promoting a prime time special for NBC. Carson later said of Chase after guest-hosting the Tonight Show; "He couldn't ad lib a fart after a baked bean dinner".[15]

Chase acknowledged Ernie Kovacs' influence on his work in Saturday Night Live,[16] and he thanked Kovacs during his acceptance speech for his Emmy award for SNL.[17] In addition, Chase spoke of Kovacs' influence on his work in an appearance in the 1982 documentary called Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius.[18]

Leaving SNL

Chase was the first member of the original SNL cast to leave the show in 1976. After leaving SNL, Chase moved to Los Angeles and married his girlfriend, Jacqueline Carlin. Chase made a few cameo appearances as the second season wound down; he was eventually replaced by Bill Murray.

Chase hosted SNL eight times after he left, most recently in 1997. He appeared on the show's twenty-fifth anniversary special in 1999 and was interviewed for a 2005 NBC special on SNL's first five years. He also made four cameo appearances later: once in a Caddyshack skit (featuring Bill Murray), the October 25, 1997 episode with guest host Chris Farley, as the Landshark in Weekend Update during the October 6, 2001 episode, and again on Weekend Update, delivering a political news/commentary, on the October 6, 2007 episode.


Chase's early film roles included Tunnel Vision, Foul Play, and Oh Heavenly Dog. The role of Eric 'Otter' Stratton in National Lampoon's Animal House was originally written with Chase in mind, but he turned the role down to work on Foul Play.[4] The role went to Tim Matheson instead. Chase said in an interview that he chose to do Foul Play so he could do "real acting" for the first time in his career instead of just doing "schtick".[19] Chase followed Foul Play with the successful Harold Ramis comedy Caddyshack, in 1980. That same year, he also starred with Goldie Hawn in Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times and released a self-titled record album, co-produced by Chase and Tom Scott, with novelty and cover versions of songs by Randy Newman, Barry White, Bob Marley, the Beatles, Donna Summer, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Troggs, and the Sugarhill Gang.

Chevy Chase at the premiere of the movie Seems Like Old Times, December 10, 1980

Chase narrowly escaped death by electrocution during the filming of Modern Problems in 1980. During a sequence in which Chase's character wears 'landing lights' as he dreams that he is an airplane, the current in the lights short-circuited and arced through Chase's arm, back, and neck muscles. The near-death episode caused Chase to experience a period of deep depression, as his marriage to Jacqueline had ended just prior to the start of filming. Chase continued his film career in 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation, directed by Ramis and written by John Hughes. He married Jayni Luke in 1983, and in 1985, he starred in Fletch, the first of two films based on Gregory Mcdonald's Fletch books. Chase joined SNL veterans Steve Martin and Martin Short in the Lorne Michaels-produced comedy ¡Three Amigos! in 1986, declaring in an interview that making ¡Three Amigos! was the most fun he had had on a film. The trio hosted SNL that year, the only time the show has had three hosts on one show.

At the height of his career in the late 1980s, Chase earned around $7 million per film and was a highly visible celebrity. He appeared alongside Paul Simon, one of his best friends, in Simon's 1986 second video for "You Can Call Me Al", in which he lip-syncs all of Simon's lyrics. Chase hosted the Academy Awards in 1987 and 1988, signing on to the proceedings in 1987 with the opener, "Good evening, Hollywood phonies!" Chase filmed a sequel to Vacation, 1985's National Lampoon's European Vacation and then a third, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, in 1989, which, thanks to its holiday theme, has become one of his more durable films, airing on NBC every December. He played saxophone onstage at Simon's free concert at the Great Lawn in Central Park in the summer of 1991. Later in 1991, he helped record and appeared in the music video "Voices That Care" to entertain and support U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm, and supported the International Red Cross.

Later work

Chase's career took a downturn in the early 90s. Chase had three consecutive film flops from his later period: 1991's Razzie award-nominated Nothing But Trouble, 1992's Memoirs of an Invisible Man, and 1994's Cops and Robbersons. The three releases had a combined gross of $34 million in the U.S. Even the durable Vacation series ground to a halt, following 1997's Vegas Vacation installment. Some of the more recent movies starring Chase (e.g., Vacuums, Rent-a-Husband, Goose!) have not been released in the United States. He returned to mainstream movie-making in 2006, co-starring with Tim Allen and Courteney Cox in the comedy Zoom, though it was both a critical and commercial failure.

In September 1993, Chase hosted The Chevy Chase Show, a weeknight talk show, for the Fox Broadcasting Company. Though it had high commercial expectations, the show was cancelled by Fox after only six weeks. Chase later appeared in a commercial for Doritos, airing during the Super Bowl, in which he made humorous reference to the show's failure.

He was roasted by the Friars Club for a Comedy Central television special in 2002. This roast was noted for being unusually mean,[20] even by the standards of other roasts, and has never re-aired.

Chase was Hasty Pudding's 1993 Man Of The Year, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. After having starred with Farrah Fawcett in the relatively successful Man of the House in 1995, he received Harvard Lampoon's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. In 2005, Chase was the keynote speaker at Princeton University's Class Day, part of commencement activities.

Return to television

Chase guest-starred as an anti-Semitic murder suspect in "In Vino Veritas", the November 3, 2006 episode of Law & Order. He also guest-starred in the ABC drama series Brothers & Sisters in two episodes as a former love interest of Sally Field's character. Chase appeared in a prominent recurring role as villainous software magnate Ted Roark on the NBC spy-comedy Chuck. In 2009, Chase and Dan Aykroyd provided voices for the Family Guy episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us".

Chase is currently starring in the NBC sitcom Community, as aging moist-towelette tycoon Pierce Hawthorne. In 2010, he appeared in the film Hot Tub Time Machine, as well as a short online film featuring the Griswold Family, and in the Funny or Die original comedy sketch "Presidential Reunion", where he played President Ford alongside other current and former SNL president impersonators.

TV commercials

Chase has appeared in a number of television commercials, including Dollar Rent-a-Car (1996), Doritos (1996), History Channel (1999), Aflac (2003), Cola Turka (2003), T-Mobile (2009) and Chase Manhattan Bank (2010).[21]

Personal life

Chevy Chase with CA-TF7 Search and Rescue. He thanks them for their work at World Trade Center after September 11, 2001 attacks.

Chase is the father of three girls, Cydney Cathalene (born January 4, 1983), Caley Leigh (born January 19, 1985), and Emily Evelyn (born September 29, 1988). He lives with his wife, Jayni (née Luke), in Bedford, New York.

Chase is an active environmentalist and charity fundraiser. He raised money and campaigned for Bill Clinton in the 1990s and John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election. Following the 2004 elections, Chase criticized President George W. Bush during a speech at a People For the American Way benefit at the Kennedy Center, referring to the President as an "uneducated, real lying schmuck" and a "dumb fuck". Event organizers and several Bush detractors present at the event distanced themselves from Chase's comments, with Norman Lear remarking, "he'll live with it, I won't."[22]



Year Film Role Notes
1968 Walk... Don't Walk Pedestrian Short subject
1974 The Groove Tube The Fingers/Geritan/Four Leaf Clover
1976 Tunnel Vision Himself
1978 Foul Play Tony Carlson
1980 Oh Heavenly Dog Browning
Caddyshack Ty Webb
Seems Like Old Times Nicholas Gardenia
1981 Under the Rainbow Bruce Thorpe
Modern Problems Max Fielder
1983 National Lampoon's Vacation Clark Griswold
Deal of the Century Eddie Muntz
1985 Fletch Irwin 'Fletch' Fletcher
National Lampoon's European Vacation Clark Griswold
Spies Like Us Emmett Fitz-Hume
1986 ¡Three Amigos! Dusty Bottoms
1988 The Couch Trip Condom Father
Funny Farm Andy Farmer
Caddyshack II Ty Webb
1989 Fletch Lives Irwin 'Fletch' Fletcher
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold
1991 Nothing But Trouble Chris Thorne
1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man Nick Halloway
Hero Deke - Channel 4 News Director
1993 Last Action Hero Himself Cameo
1994 A Century of Cinema Himself Documentary
Cops and Robbersons Norman Robberson
1995 Man of the House Jack Sturgess
1997 Vegas Vacation Clark Griswold
1998 Dirty Work Dr. Farthing
2000 Snow Day Tom Brandston
2002 Vacuums Mr. Punch
Orange County Principal Harbert
2003 Bad Meat Congressman Bernard P. Greely
Bitter Jester Himself Documentary
2004 Rent-a-Husband Paul Parmesan
2005 Ellie Parker Dennis Swartzbaum
2006 Funny Money Henry Perkins
Doogal Train Voice only
Goose on the Loose Congreve Maddox
Zoom Dr. Grant
2009 Stay Cool Principal Marshall
2010 Hot Tub Time Machine Repairman
Jack and the Beanstalk Antipode
Not Another Not Another Movie Max Storm


Year Show Role Notes
1975–2007 Saturday Night Live Various characters 35 episodes
1993 The Chevy Chase Show Himself Also writer and producer
2003 Freedom: A History of Us Various characters Five episodes
2004 The Karate Dog Cho-Cho (voice) TV movie
2006 Law & Order Mitch Carroll Episode "In Vino Veritas"
2007 Family Guy Clark Griswold Episode "Blue Harvest"
2009 Hjälp! (Help!) Dan Carter Eight episodes
2009 Chuck Ted Roark Three episodes
2009 Family Guy Himself Episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us"
2009–present Community Pierce Hawthorne 55 episodes


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database -- Chevy Chase
  2. ^ Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase, Edward Tinsley "Ned" Chase, Edward Leigh Chase, Charles Dennison Chase, Henry Seymour Chase, Jarvis Brown Chase, Paul Chase m. Betty Kinnicutt, John Kinnicutt m. Hannah Gorham, Jabez Gorham, Jr., Jabez Gorham, Sr., John Gorham m. Desire Howland, daughter of John Howland & Elizabeth Tilley.
  3. ^ a b Fruchter, Rena. I'm Chevy Chase...and You're Not. Virgin Books, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Chase, Chevy, interview on Howard Stern Show, Sirius Satellite Radio, September 18, 2008.
  5. ^ "Chevy Chase: Mom and stepdad abused me," E! News, April 24, 2007.
  6. ^ The Milwaukee Sentinel - Google News Archive Search
  7. ^ Late-Night Chitchat Additions: Pat Sajak and Arsenio Hall, a January 11, 1989 review from The New York Times
  8. ^ "Gerald R. Ford" (Obituary). The Washington Post Company. December 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  9. ^ Chawkins, Steve (2005-10-25). "Bush’s Tribute to a Lofty Symbol". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  10. ^ Jake, Coyle (2008-09-12). "'SNL' returns with spotlight on prez impersonators". Rochester, Minnesota: Post Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  11. ^ "Chevy Chase recalls Ford as ‘a terrific guy’: ‘SNL’ comedian became famous in the ’70s portraying president as klutz". MSNBC. 2006-12-27. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  12. ^ Chase, Chevy (2007-01-06). "Mr. Ford Gets the Last Laugh". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  13. ^ Joel, Keller (2007-04-16). "A delusional Chevy Chase says he created The Daily Show". TVSquad. 
  14. ^ Bill, Carter (July 13, 1993). "With Pratfalls, Chevy Chase's Plans For Late-Night TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  15. ^ "The 25 Meanest Things Ever Said by Men". 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  16. ^ Chevy Chase, "The Unique Comedy of Ernie Kovacs," TV Guide, April 9, 1977, p. 39-40.
  17. ^ Hofer, Stephen F.(2006). TV Guide: the official collector's guide, Bangzoom Publishers.
  18. ^ "Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius". Internet Movie Database. 17 November 1982. 
  19. ^ Shales, Tom. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Back Bay Books, 2003.
  20. ^ Virginia Heffernan (2 December 2002). "Chevy Chase, humiliated again". Slate. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  21. ^ Chevy Chase - Other works
  22. ^ "It's the F-Time Show With Chevy Chase". 2004-12-16. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 

Further reading

  • I'm Chevy Chase...and You're Not (The Authorized Biography) by Rena Fruchter. Virgin Books, 2007. ISBN 1-85227-346-1.
  • Who's Who in Comedy by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 102-103. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0-8160-2338-7.
  • Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller. Back Bay Books.

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Weekend Update Anchor
Succeeded by
Jane Curtin
Preceded by
Robert Klein
Saturday Night Live Host
February 18, 1978
Succeeded by
O.J. Simpson

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chevy Chase — ist der Name folgender Personen: Chevy Chase (Schauspieler) (* 1943), US amerikanischer Komiker und Schauspieler Chevy Chase ist der Name folgender Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Chevy Chase (Maryland), Vorort von Washington D.C. Chevy Chase… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chevy Chase — Nombre real Cornelius Crane Chase Nacimiento 8 de octubre de 1943 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Chevy Chase — Chevy Chase, MD U.S. Census Designated Place in Maryland Population (2000): 9381 Housing Units (2000): 3959 Land area (2000): 2.450123 sq. miles (6.345788 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.450123 …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Chevy Chase, MD — U.S. Census Designated Place in Maryland Population (2000): 9381 Housing Units (2000): 3959 Land area (2000): 2.450123 sq. miles (6.345788 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.450123 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Chevy Chase — à la première de Baby Mama en avril 2008 Données clés …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chevy Chase —   [ tʃevɪ tʃeɪs], The hunting of the Cheviot [ȓə hʌntɪȖ ɔv ȓə tʃevɪət], deutsch »Die Chevy Jagd«, mittelenglische Volksballade, entstanden vermutlich Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts, eröffnet T. Percys Balladensammlung »Reliques of ancient English… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Chevy Chase — (The Ballad of Chevy Chase) a 15th century English ballad describing the battle of Otterburn between the Percys and the Douglases. * * * …   Universalium

  • Chevy Chase — Cockney Rhyming Slang Face She s got a lovely Chevy Chase …   English dialects glossary

  • Chevy Chase — Original name in latin Chevy Chase Name in other language State code US Continent/City America/New York longitude 38.97122 latitude 77.07637 altitude 112 Population 9545 Date 2011 05 14 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Chevy Chase — (The Ballad of Chevy Chase) a 15th century English ballad describing the battle of Otterburn between the Percys and the Douglases. * * * [ chevē chās] a fashionable suburb north of Washington, DC, in Montgomery County in Maryland; pop. 8,559 …   Useful english dictionary

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