Legendary comedian and actor Chevy Chase is at home in Westchester recovering from an undefined heart issue. The Saturday Night Live original cast member spent a shocking five weeks in the hospital. Though Chase has been open about his health issues in the past, the exact cause of this particular trip to the emergency room is unknown.
It could be related to past issues with alcohol, which caused cardiomyopathy, though at 77-years-old it could just be a case of getting older. He said to Page Six that he was happy to be back home and that he’s feeling good. Uncommonly for the active actor, for now, Chase has settled into the simple life at home.
Keen to know how Chevy Chase ended up in the hospital, what led up to his career downfall, and how he’s dealing with life in semi-retirement? Then don’t click away until this video is finished!
Chevy Chase is Happy to Be Home
The restrictions on going out due to COVID-19 have been a blessing in disguise for the recovering Chase. “I have no need to go out and meet COVID,” he said to the media. Watching TV is one of the main ways he spends all of his free time.
And in a perhaps unsurprisingly bah-humbug moment, he was full of criticism for the programming of today. “I see actors, comedians, producers, screenwriters working and, God bless them, but I don’t see anything great on television,” he said. “The humor today’s giving the next generation worse stuff than they already have in their own lives.”
Basically, Chase thinks today’s comedy is a far cry from what he and his co-stars produced for the iconic original episodes of SNL.
Chevy Chase Diagnosed With Alcohol-Related Illness
The celebrity rumor mill is working overtime since, in 2018, Chevy Chase was diagnosed with alcohol cardiomyopathy. This serious condition is caused by heavy drinking and leads to weakened heart muscles. To deal with his alcoholism, he did a lengthy stint at Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center for what his publicist called a “tune-up.”
At the time, Chase’s long-suffering wife, Jayni Chase, almost filed for divorce, and he became estranged from at least one of his daughters–all because he initially refused to get any help to stop drinking. Is his recent hospital stay related to his past substance abuse issues? Not according to Chase, but he also hasn’t said exactly what his condition was caused by.
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He’s Battled With Substance Abuse for A Long Time
Substance abuse is all too common among actors of all ages and levels of fame. And it’s often the most famous that suffer the most and the longest. Chevy Chase is no exception. His battle with booze and drugs extends as far back as the 1980s. It might also be at the root of why Hollywood seems to hate him.
During his time on SNL, he suffered from a pretty bad back injury. He was prescribed painkillers, which he became addicted to. He also said to Esquire that it was around the same time that his “nose started to hurt.” And it wasn’t from a cold. He checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic–the popular celebrity rehab choice of the era–in 1986.
Chevy Chase was a fan of the late President Gerald Ford, and in a letter to the President, Chase credits President Ford’s wife, Betty Ford, as the person who rescued him. “If it hadn’t been for the courage of Mr. Ford’s wife, Betty, for admitting to an alcohol problem, I would never have received the help I needed in the early 1980s,” he once told the New York Times.
Chevy Chase Struggled With Popularity After Rehab
After Chevy Chase’s well-publicized visit to Betty Ford’s eponymous clinic for addicts, no one wanted to hire him anymore. His door was devoid of scripts, and all his fellow Saturday Night Live stars–the likes of Steve Martin (as a host), Martin Short, and Bill Murray–eclipsed him in fame. While they’ve all become American treasures and pop culture savants, he has floundered in recent years. In the 1990s, he tried to reboot National Lampoon with lackluster results–you probably don’t remember Vegas Vacation, right?
It wasn’t until 2009 that Chase made a bit of a comeback. He was already semi-retired when he was cast on Community, a long-lived and seriously successful NBC sitcom set in a community college. Apparently, Chevy Chase was “blown away” by the script of show creator Dan Harmon.
He Made A Brief Comeback with NBC’s Community
He was cast in the role of Pierce Hawthorne, an elderly rich guy who had an always-inappropriate attitude complemented by boatloads of insecurity-in-denial. For the first time in a very long time, Chevy Chase’s acting ability and comedic presence were relished by critics: they called him “farcically loopy and delightful,” among other nice things. And he got along well with his co-stars, including Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Joel McHale, and Gillian Jacobs–at least at first.
Sadly for Chase, it wasn’t long before the calm broke down behind the scenes. The seasoned actor quickly got fed up with what he thought was an unorganized production from Harmon. The scripts were constantly changing, and there were tediously long waits on set. He tried to pushback, and Harmon bristled. Things came to a head at the Season 3 wrap party. Apparently, Harmon led an expletive-filled shout-out against Chevy, who, faced with abuse from cast and crew alike, promptly left.
Chevy Chase Had a Terrible Childhood
Though Chase has never admitted it, those close to this embattled comedian say his childhood was full of tragedy and hardship. His parents divorced when he was just a young boy, and though he loved his father, who was a well-respected book editor and fellow funny man, he was forced to live with his mother.
She was abusive, reportedly often waking Chase in the middle of the night to slap him across the face for no reason at all. Things got worse as he got older. Apparently, when he was just 14 years old, his mother locked him in the basement for a few days with only a jug to use for a toilet.
It would be easy for Chevy Chase to pin all his struggles with addiction and career failures on his hard-knock young life. But he never has, even though his current wife, Jayni, thinks his tough childhood has had a massive impact on his life as an adult. It’s turned him bitter, cynical, and critical, she says. “Chevy is an abused kid,” she continues. He didn’t have the love of his mother and father that most of us had.
He Was Labelled a Racist
Community was a new star role for Chevy Chase and offered him a phoenix-rising moment. Those hopes were quickly dashed when he reportedly told his co-star Donald Glover that “people think you’re funnier because you’re black.” Glover told the New York Times that he quickly lost all respect for Chase, which led to a lot of bad blood on set. It didn’t help that Chevy Chase laster doubled down on his racist comments. While Chase later agreed that his treatment of Donald Glover wasn’t great, it seems it wasn’t to last. When he next ended up on stage with Glover–on the set of SNL’s 40th-anniversary special–he told The Washington Post: “I never saw a guy turn white so fast.” Um, weird choice of words, much?
His Addiction Flared Up Again After Community Ended
The troubling time on the Community set led to him turning once again to the bottle, says his daughter, Caley, who was living with him at the time. She said she saw a glass of wine become a bottle, and then it turned into a bottle of vodka. Things got so bad that at one point, his family had simply given up on him, thinking he would drink himself to death before too long. One day, however, for reasons he can’t explain, Chase walked outside into his yard, took a single gulp from the bottle of vodka he was holding, and made the difficult but necessary decision to quit for good. He checked himself into an addiction center for treatment in 2016, much to the gratitude of his loving but fed-up family.
Chevy Chase Has Some Theories About Why Hollywood Hates Him
As always, when it comes to scorned celebrities, the rumor mill runs wild with reasons why Hollywood shuns Chevy Chase. But surprisingly, the formerly affluent actor has some pretty plausible theories of his own.
First of all, he thinks it’s because of an ill-fated late-night TV talk show he hosted way back in 1993. It aired on Fox in 1993 and was called The Chevy Chase Show because the comedian was host, writer, director, and producer all rolled into one. Critics quickly panned the show, and, shockingly, it was canceled after a paltry five weeks on air.
He also moved to a tiny country town in New York state, and Chase believes this took him out of Hollywood’s limelight. Finally, he thinks it’s his age and related health problems, including past struggles with addiction and obesity. At 77, he’s not exactly the picture of good health the American public demands of its stars.
It’s more than possible, too, that his dry sense of humor is working against him. Unlike a fine red wine, it hasn’t aged well.
He’s Content With His Life These Days
Despite so many flops and failures over the past few decades, Chevy Chase admits he’s content with his life these days. Many people would like to see their favorite funny Hollywood dad back on the silver screen. And his new life of fitness and sobriety could see a renewal of a long-lost career. And, of course, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation remains a seasonal favorite to this day.
In fact, Chase himself admits to no longer wanting to remain semi-retired. In 2019, he stepped onto the Netflix set to film The Last Laugh, in which he played an aging manager, not wanting to give up his career. While not a roaring success, it wasn’t panned by the critics either.
He also got up on stage one last time with his former SNL buddies. They were being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. It was an emotional moment for the aging Hollywood legend: “I can’t tell you, to be up there, on that stage, doing that stuff. Oh, God, it was fun. I’ll tell you, I’d do it again in a minute.”
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