Tom Davis is best remembered as comprising one-half of the “Franken and Davis” twosome on “Saturday Night Live.” Davis’ writing talents helped him break into the entertainment industry when “Saturday Night Live” hired him as a writer in 1975. Davis contributed tremendously to the show during his tenure as both a long-time writer and actor.
After battling a terminal illness for three long years, Davis eventually succumbed and passed away in 2012. The world of “Saturday Night Live” owes many of its characteristics to the multitalented entertainer. Sadly, in 2012, Davis died after a bout with throat and neck cancer.
Gail Matthius may have been an unfortunate victim of the notorious 1980 season of "Saturday Night Live." Matthius was well-received in the thirteen episodes she appeared in but she landed smack bang in the middle of a cutthroat arena of comedians all fighting for "Saturday Night Live's" legacy.
Matthius had three recurring characters and pulled off celebrity impersonations with startling skill. Matthias did not survive the behind-the-scenes politics, and writers' strikes that plagued the 1980s seasons. Matthius took it in stride however and in later years expressed no regret and said she was happy not “pushing and shoving my way to the top.”
Ellen Cleghorne left an enduring impression on "Saturday Night Live." The boisterous comedienne saw four full seasons as a full-time, starring member of the show during the early '90s, from 1991 to 1995. Cleghorne secured her place amongst the "Saturday Night Live" alumni with her almost endless ability to parody and pull off celebrity impressions, with no famous figure being off-limits.
Fellow SNL castmate Jay Mohr wrote about Cleghorne being an antagonistic colleague. Cleghorne wrapped up her time on the show to pursue a career in sitcoms by starring in her eponymous show “Cleghorne!” which sadly lasted for only a single season.
"Saturday Night Live" can lend a lot of thanks to Nora Dunn for being part of a new generation of comics that helped save the show from its catastrophic downturn in the 1980s. Loyalty to the show was low as actor and actress turnover was reaching a fever pitch.
Dunn injected the show with a much-needed boost as her characters reinvigorated the comedic landscape. The degree to which she could create social commentary while having the audience choke with laughter was instrumental in pulling the ratings out of the prime-time gutter. Dunn has been featuring in the sitcom "Home Economics" since 2021.
In a field of charcoal, Denny Dillon stood out like a diamond during her – sadly brief – time on "Saturday Night Live" between 1980 and 1981. That season was threatening to turn the entire enterprise of "Saturday Night Live" into “Saturday Night Dead.” But she came to save the day.
Dillon was unapologetic in her approach to the writing and her risks paid off. Dillon managed to balance highly theatrical acting without turning it into all-out slapstick. Producers almost rued never hiring her initially; Dillon was rejected as a full-time cast member in 1975. Five years later, producers finally realized the error of their ways!