This will come as a surprise to no one, but Bill Murray and Chevy Chase didn’t always get along. The low point, as Saturday Night Live alums Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman recalled in a new interview, occurred when the two prickly personalities came to blows in John Belushi’s dressing room right before a show.
Curtin and Newman rehashed the 1978 scuffle on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. “I think Jane and I — and Gilda [Radner] — both witnessed it,” Newman said. “It was very sad and painful and awful.”
Reports have varied over the years as to the cause. Some allege the fight began after Murray made a joke about Chase’s deteriorating marriage with Jacqueline Carlin, after which Chase replied with a quip about Murray’s looks. In conversation with Howard Stern, Chase said it had to do with rumors Belushi had spread because he was jealous of Chase’s success (uh-huh). However it started, two of the funniest actors of their generation locked horns moments before SNL began.
“I think they both knew the one thing that they could say to one another that would hurt the most,” Newman said. “That’s what I think incited it.”
“It was that same kind of tension that you would get in a family,” Curtin added, “and everybody goes to their corners because they don’t want to have to deal with the tension, and it was uncomfortable. You could understand, you know, there were these two bull moose going at each other, so the testosterone was surging and stuff happens.”
The two men filmed Caddyshack shortly afterwards, and any hard feelings were blown away by that enormous box office success. In retrospect, the events served as a kind of appetizer for decades of on-set trouble that would be served up by the comedy titans. Just in recent years, Chase beefed with the current cast of SNL, inspiring Pete Davidson to call him a “fucking douchebag.” He also dropped the n-word during production on Community, and according to Donald Glover made racist jokes between takes.
As for Murray, he’s cleaned up his act since his wilder days, but in 2019 Richard Dreyfuss recalled him as a “drunken bully” on the set of What About Bob? Last year, The Doobie Brothers wrote him a cease-and-desist letter after his golf apparel company used one of their songs without permission.