Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remembering Christopher Crosby Farley February 15, 1964 - December 18, 1997

Dear Lord,

  As I stumble through this life, help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair.  Never let me become so blaze that I fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.  Never let me forget my work is to cheer people, make them happy, make them laugh, make them forget, at least for a moment the unpleasantness in their lives.  Never let me acquire success to the point that I discontinue calling on My Creator in the hour of need, acknowledging and thanking Him in the hour of plenty, and in my final moment, may I hear you whisper, "When you made my people smile, you made Me smile!"
                                                                                      A Clown's Prayer

How appropriate these words are to the life of one of the funniest men in comedic history.  As written by Chris Farley's brother in the biography of Chris called "The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts says of Chris "No one dominated a stage the way Chris Farley did.  For him, comedy was not a routine; it was a way of life.  He could not enter a room unnoticed or let a conversation go without making someone laugh."

Christopher Crosby Farley grew up in Madison, Wisconsin.  He was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic family.  Chris and his four siblings attended Catholic schools and Chris rarely missed church.  During his childhood years, he spent his summers as a camp counselor.

Following high school, Chris enrolled in  communications and theater at Marquette University and following its completion in 1986, Chris joined his father in the Scotch Oil Company in Madison.  He soon got his start in professional comedy in the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison.  He soon moved to Chicago and performed at the Improv Theatre and joined the Second City Theatre as a member of the touring group until he was promoted to the main stage.

Chris as Matt Foley (motivational speaker)
Farley and Chris Rock joined the Saturday Night Live cast in 1990 and worked with other comedians including Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade and the gang became known as the "Bad Boys of SNL."  Farley always admired the original SNL cast that included his favorite comedian, John Belushi.  While on SNL, his hilarious characters included Matt Foley, the motivational speaker; one of "Da Bears" and his unforgettable performance as a Chippendale Dancer with Patrick Swayze.  He was also one of the "Gap Girls" and the "lunch lady"  He also portrayed many celebrities that included Meat Loaf, Newt Gingrich, Roger Ebert, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Arnold and Mama Cass.
Chris' prayer card

Farley was also known for his gags offscreen that included prank phone calls, passing gas during phone calls, and mooning cars from limousines.  Adam Sandler supposedly reported that Farley and Sandler actually lost their job from the show in 1995.

Chris also had a successful film career.  He and his SNL colleague David Spade appeared in "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep"  Farley also had major roles in "Wayne's World" "Coneheads" and "Airheads"  He was also the featured star in "Beverly Hills Ninja."  Unfortunately, during his movie career, drugs and alcohol became a part of Chris' life.  While filming "Almost Heroes" the film was halted numerous times because of drugs and rehabs.  Almost Heroes and Dirty Work were both released posthumously.

Chris was the original voice of the title character for the animated film "Shrek"

In Chris' final years, he dealt with many medical and addictive problems that included obesity, drug abuse, and coronary atherosclerosis.

Program from Santa Monica
On December 18, 1998, Chris' brother found Chris on the floor of his apartment in the John Hancock building in Chicago.  It was reported that there was no sign of foul play.   Toxicology reports showed that in addition to coronary atheroscerlosis were signs of morphine in his blood (opiate intoxication).

Back of program
Over 500 people attended Chris Farley's private funeral that was held at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin that included many of the comedians that worked with Chris on SNL.  One friend who was absent was David Spade who was quoted as saying that he declined to attend because "he could not be in a room where Chris was in a box."

A memorial mass was held on January 12, 1998 (program pictured) in the St. Monica Church in Santa Monica, California.  His eulogy was given by his friend, fellow actor Tom Arnold (Roseanne's former husband).  A Clown's Prayer was printed on the back of the program.

Chris was laid to rest in a mausoleum in the Resurrection Cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin.

Chris was posthumously awarded the 2289th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Resurrection Cemetery

Chris' resting place

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