Chevy Chase. What to say about one of “Saturday Night Live’s” most controversial members: the only cast member to be outright banned from performing on “Saturday Night Live” even though he was part of the original cast. Chase’s brief time on the show in the 1970s showcased his razor-sharp wit and launched him into stardom.
His colleagues had no positive memories of him though, and he and Bill Murray had a legendary fistfight moments before going on air. Chase was eventually banned after assaulting Cheri Oteri in 1997. From “National Lampoon’s Vacation” to his time spent on the sitcom “Community,” Chevy Chase really has done it all.
"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!
Twenty-first-century audiences can thank YouTube for a slew of talent that would have otherwise gone unknown and unnoticed in the entertainment world. Jay Pharoah had no idea how much his life would change after he uploaded a video of himself satirizing and impersonating then-American president Barack Obama.
"Saturday Night Live" producers took note and signed Pharoah up in 2010. His appearance was an instant hit and he was called the “breakout” performer for the 2010 season. Pharoah spent six, lucrative years on the show before moving on to other ventures. There really aren't many better impressionists in the world than our boy Jay.
Horatio Sanz burst onto the "Saturday Night Live" screen as a larger-than-life comedic triple threat; the funny man could sing, perform, and deliver sketches like few could. His musical performances were among the best the show created in its almost 30-year history (at the time).
Sanz was initially meant to stand in for Tina Fey but his appearance was so successful, he found full-time success with the show even after Fey’s return. Budget cuts to the show tragically saw Sanz make an exit. Fun fact - Sanz actually had a small role in the pilot episode of the Disney+ "Star Wars" series "The Mandalorian."