With comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live entering its 40th anniversary this year, the show is celebrating its landmark year by hosting a three and a half hour special featuring guests and stars from the show’s 40 years on air. The show started back in 1975 and was simply called NBC'S Saturday Night as another show held the Saturday Night Live title, it originally aired on October 11 1975. The original cast featured Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. In the original season, cast members were only paid $750 by NBC per episode.
There have been 782 episodes since it first ran back in the 70s and many of its stars go on to successful careers in TV and film. The original cast of course went on to bigger fame, including Dan Aykroyd who teamed up with Harold Ramis and Bill Murray to write and star in the classic Ghostbusters. John Belushi reprised his role with Dan Akroyd in the 1980s classic Blues Brothers film, based on their SNL sketches. Jake (Belushi) tries to get his old band back together after leaving jail in order to save the orphanage where he and brother Elwood were raised.
The show has always been hot on parodying everything relevant from pop culture gags to politics, especially including presidential campaigns with the show famous for its recurring impressions of both the presidents and candidates. Will Ferrell has repeatedly reprised his uncanny role as George W. Bush, Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush and Dan Akroyd as Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. Former head writer Tina Fey has played her doppelganger Sarah Palin multiple times with her regular comedy partner Amy Poehler, who went on to star in her own show, Parks and Recreation. Tina Fey herself has become even bigger by writing and starring in her own films and TV series, including Mean Girls and 30 Rock. The latter of which starred fellow Saturday Night Live regular in Alec Baldwin, who holds the record of most SNL hosts with an incredible 16 times. Dave Grohl has performed on the show the most with 11 appearances with Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures and as drummer for Tom Petty.
Four former writers for SNL went on to host their own late night shows, with varying success. Original cast member Chevy Chase went on to host The Chevy Chase Show, but was shortly cancelled after just five weeks on air. More successful ventures included Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, who both went on to host late night shows still airing today. Jimmy Fallon, who started out on SNL, left the show in 2004 after six years, and hosted Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2014Fallon then went on to replace Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show. Conan O’Brien started life in SNL in 1987 until 1991, where he left to join the writing team of The Simpsons until he got his own show, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien in 1993 where it successfully ran until 2009.
One of the youngest hosts to ever grace Saturday Night Live was a seven year old Drew Barrymore when she hosted the show back in 1982. Barrymore went on to host a further five times with the most recent coming in 2009. Legendary announcer Don Pardo worked on Saturday Night Live as the announcer for an incredible 38 seasons, only missing season 7 and unfortunately died in 2014 at the age of 96. Saturday Night Live has recieved an incredible 175 Emmy Award Nomination and has won the Primetime Emmy Award 36 times and four Writer’s Guild of America awards.
Saturday Night Live aired its 40th anniversary show on Sunday February 15th and is available to watch online. Repeat of the 40th SNL celebrations on Friday the 20th.