Chris Farley, the wild, 300-pound comic actor who gained recognition for his physical antics on "Saturday Night Live" as well as such movies as "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep," was found dead Thursday in his Chicago apartment. He was 33.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but a Police Department source said Farley's death appeared to be from natural causes, and a Cook County medical examiner on the scene said, "There's nothing to indicate otherwise at this time."
Local radio stations reported that Farley had been on medication for high blood pressure. An autopsy will be performed today.
The death of Farley, known for working himself into a sweaty frenzy during performances, provides unavoidable parallels to
In a 1996 interview, Farley said he "dreamed of being John Belushi. That's why I went the
Friends and associates had long expressed concern about Farley's health and excessive behavior, and the comic acknowledged battling his own outrageous tendencies. An Us magazine article this year titled "Chris Farley: On the Edge of Disaster" quoted Farley's manager as saying he feared the comic actor would "go the route of John Candy" if he wasn't careful. Candy died of a massive heart attack in 1994, at the age of 43.
In one of his most recent appearances, Farley seemed impaired while guest-hosting "Saturday Night Live" in October, frequently flubbing lines.
"Even though it's shocking, I can't say it's a surprise," said actor
"Chris had an enormous appetite for everything, but I never got the feeling this was a kid who was doing these things for all the wrong reasons," Dennehy said. "He loved to eat. He loved to raise hell. . . . It's just such a waste. He's a terrific kid, a nice kid, hard-working [and] very talented."
Several restaurant employees near the building had seen Farley when he appeared to be inebriated.
Todd Poore, who works at the Cheesecake Factory near Farley's residence, said the comic showed up about a week ago with two women and drank heavily.
"He looked really gross. He was sweating like a slob, he was loud and obnoxious—a complete mess," Poore said.
Through a spokeswoman, Spade said Thursday, "He was one of my best friends, and I will miss him every day."
Farley said in 1996 that he sometimes felt trapped "by always having to be the most outrageous guy in the room. In particular, I'm working on trying not to be that guy in my private life."
Born in Wisconsin to a close-knit family, Farley was the middle child of five. After graduating from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Farley joined the Second City touring company and was performing in Chicago when invited to audition for "Saturday Night Live," joining the cast in 1990.
Farley spent four years on the show—popularizing such characters as inspirational speaker Matt Foley—before moving on to feature films. He scored a surprise hit with "Tommy Boy," which he followed with "Black Sheep" and "Beverly Hills Ninja."
Farley recently completed a movie for
In addition to Belushi and Candy, Farley had also expressed admiration for the late Jackie Gleason.
"All the fat comics, they're my favorites," he said in a January interview. "I watch them over and over again. The great comics can fall on their faces, but then they can say, 'Oh, baby, you're the greatest.' They show their heart and their vulnerability."
Lowry reported from Los Angeles and Braun from Chicago. Researcher John Beckham in Chicago also contributed to this story.