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John Belushi

Biography

If you were around from the mid 1970s to the early '80s -- and assuming you didn't have your eyes, ears and mind closed -- you knew exactly who the portly, fanatical, versatile and very funny John Belushi was. His tragic death in 1982 only added to the myth that surrounded him: self-destructive and conflicted, he was the most rock 'n' roll non-musician of his time (this isn't to say he wasn't a mean singer, however). His sordid passing cannot overshadow just how hilarious he could be, whether it was playing Joliet Jake Blues with deadpan arrogance or writhing maniacally onstage as a conniption-prone Joe Cocker. In the now classic Animal House, Belushi didn't need the most lines to steal the show; with sublime facial expressions, volatile outbursts, and spot-on one-liners ("Seven years of college down the drain!") it became his movie. Despite his overt craziness and physicality, he was capable of some surprisingly touching and subtle performances, such as his masterful "short film" played on Saturday Night Live: he is a lonely old man, reminiscing about his dearly departed costars. Watching this deft performance now is as likely to produce tears as it is laughs.

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