Chris Farley was a beloved actor and comedian who won over the hearts of his fans with his quick wit and energetic comedy that was sure to bring a smile to anyone who saw him. When he passed away in 2017 at the age of only 33, it was a great loss, not only for the acting community but for all of his fans and his family. In honor of the 20th anniversary of his passing, we’re taking a moment to honor all of the laughs he brought us throughout the years.
Christopher Crosby Farley was born on February 15, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin. His father, Thomas John Farley Sr., was the owner of an oil company, while his mother, Mary Anne, was a stay-at-home housewife. He had four siblings, Tom Jr., Kevin, John, and Barbara, whom he was close to and loved. Growing up, he often spent his summers at Red Arrow Camp where he would first attend as a camper, only to eventually become a counselor.
After graduating from Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic school, he went on to graduate from Marquette University in 1986 where he studied communications and theater. His big break into comedy was when he got his job at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison and then moved to the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago. Afterwards, he performed as a member of Chicago’s Second City Theatre!
His first big break on to the screen came in 1990 when he was announced, along with Chris Rock, as one of the newest cast members of "Saturday Night Live." He stayed on the show for the next five years, where he worked with Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade as they brought laughter to the world every week, without fail. Some of the characters he was most well-known for include his portrayals of Matt Foley, Hank Williams Jr., Rush Limbaugh, and Jerry Garcia.
During his time on Saturday Night Live, he delved into the world of film and began to make a name for himself in the movie industry. He appeared in a multitude of comedies, from "Coneheads" to "Billy Madison," and even performed in the Red Hot Chili Peppers music video for “Soul to Squeeze.” After leaving Saturday Night Live in 1995, he began to focus more on his film career and starred in films such as "Tommy Boy," "Black Sheep," "Almost Heroes," and "Dirty Work."
Chris became addicted to drugs during his time in the spotlight and began to use them more heavily when he began to perform in films. He was sensitive about how his movies were perceived, and he was often dissatisfied with the movies, leading him to relapse into drugs once more. On December 18, 1997, he was found in his Chicago apartment by his brother John, dead from an overdose.
He was buried in his hometown of Madison in a private funeral with over 500 attendees. His fans and friends felt the loss of the comedic genius quite sharply, and he is missed dearly. On August 26, 205, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work, and he’s also been the subject of two television documentaries since his death. Chris passed away much too young, and we can’t help but wish we had been treated to many more decades of laughter.