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Saturday Night Live first hit the air in 1975 with a cast of unknown comedians. Today, almost everyone who starred in that first season is a household name. While the show seemed to run smoothly, for the most part, plenty of tensions arose backstage. One fight in particular involved Bill Murray and Chevy Chase actually coming to blows. Chase blames John Belushi for the fight.

Chevy Chase and John Belushi sitting against a wall during a break from 'Saturday Night Live'
Chevy Chase and John Belushi take a break in the NBC Studios in 1976 in New York. | Photo by Michael Tighe/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Chevy Chase left ‘Saturday Night Live’ before any other cast member

Over the years, whispers of Chase’s name-calling and altercations have become the norm. However, in his early years on Saturday Night Live, he quickly became one of the most popular comedians on the show. Chase starred in the original version of Weekend Update, and his continual appearances in sketches helped his rise to fame. He left a little over a year after SNL premiered, starring in the premiere episode of season 2, but missed the second and third episodes due to an injury. Chase returned for another three episodes after recuperating before finally exiting the show for good.

Chase’s exit from the show left many of the cast members with a bad taste in their mouths. They felt as if his leaving was more of abandonment after they all worked so hard to get Saturday Night Live off the ground.

In Tom Shales and Andrew Miller’s book Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, Murray says, “I think they resented him for taking a piece of the success and leaving and making his own career go. Everybody else was from the improvisational world, where you didn’t make it about you. You were an ensemble, you were a company. So when he left, there was resentment about that. It was a shock.”

Chevy Chase blames his fight with Bill Murray on John Belushi

When Chase returned to hose in Saturday Night Live’s third season, he and Murray got into a physical altercation. Tensions ran high when he returned due to a couple of different factors. For one, current cast members felt resentment toward Chase. Two, Chase claims he discovered John Belushi had spread “apocryphal stories” about him “out of his jealousy and anger or whatever to Billy Murray.”

Chase blames Belushi for the fight with Murray, saying in Live From New York, “In a sense, John caused that fight with Billy, but we both ended up hitting John by mistake. Billy was out of line. I’d been out of line to some degree – certainly in Billy’s mind, initiated by the things that Lorne [Michaels] later told me about. So Billy came after me and tried to throw me off a little bit just before I was going on the air.”

Chase continues, “Ultimately, Billy’s still Billy, and I’m still me, but it didn’t faze me for the show. I was sure upset, but I noticed John when I was going into Billy’s dressing room, and John was like the Cheshire Cat – sitting there like ‘mission accomplished.'”


‘Saturday Night Live’: Why Chevy Chase Became the First Cast Member to Leave

Chevy Chase admits ‘maybe he hadn’t been such a great guy’ when he left ‘Saturday Night Live’

Everyone knows hindsight is 20/20, and that includes Chase. He later admits he bore some of the blame for the fight with Murray.

“I realized when I left that maybe I hadn’t been such a great guy. Maybe we weren’t so close. Maybe I’d been somewhat of an a******. I left with self-doubts,” Chase says.

Despite him admitting his faults, Chase remains one of the only people banned from ever hosting Saturday Night Live. Complaints from cast members regarding verbal abuse piled up, and an incident involving him slapping Cheri Oteri in the back of the head earned him a lifetime hosting ban.