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The Bad Blood Between Chevy Chase and Bill Murray which Erupted into a Fistfight

Nikola Budanovic

Bill Murray and Chevy Chase are two giants of comedy. Back in 1975, Chevy Chase joined the first cast of Saturday Night Live as a promising comedic writer and actor who was pushing towards television fame in great speed.

However, one season later, Chase decided to abandon the show that had launched him from obscurity into household-name status, simply explaining that the reason behind his departure was:

“Money. Lots of money.”

Chevy Chase at the premiere of the movie Seems Like Old Times, December 10, 1980. Photo By Alan Light CC BY 2.0

Chevy Chase at the premiere of the movie Seems Like Old Times, December 10, 1980. Photo By Alan Light CC BY 2.0

But before he left SNL in late 1976 in order to pursue a movie career, Chase had a long history of arguments with his fellow co-workers.

Although many of these feuds are worth mentioning, the one that remained most notable from the period was the famous behind-the-scenes fistfight between Chase and another rising star in the comedic world ― Bill Murray.

Saturday Night Live Episode 10 — Pictured: Bill Murray as anchor during ‘Weekend Update’ on January 27, 1979. Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Saturday Night Live Episode 10 — Pictured: Bill Murray as anchor during ‘Weekend Update’ on January 27, 1979. Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Murray had orbited around Saturday Night Live during the time Chase was its main star and when he finally joined the team many considered him to be the suitable replacement.

When Chase returned on one occasion as a guest host, it was only a matter of time before things escalated. After the show, a brawl ensued between the two, which took place behind the scenes.

SNL’s main stage, during rehearsal, 2008. Photo by Rex Sorgatz CC BY 2.0

SNL’s main stage, during rehearsal, 2008. Photo by Rex Sorgatz CC BY 2.0

According to Chase, it had something to do with Jim Belushi as well, whom he accused of turning the SNL crew against him.

It started off with verbal insults when Murray made a joke about Chevy’s wife, and the infuriated comedian allegedly responded that Bill’s face looks like something Neil Armstrong had landed on.

Chevy Chase at the private party after the premiere of the movie A Star is Born, December 1976. Photo By Alan Light CC BY 2.0

Chevy Chase at the private party after the premiere of the movie A Star is Born, December 1976. Photo By Alan Light CC BY 2.0

Just a moment after, the two were locked in a fistfight, with Murray’s younger brother Brian trying to separate the two. In a 2015 interview for Empire Online Murray recalled the whole scandal and described it quite vividly:

“It was really a Hollywood fight, a ‘Don’t touch my face!’ kind of thing. Chevy is a big man, I’m not a small guy, and we were separated by my brother Brian [Doyle-Murray], who comes up to my chest.”

Murray in 2015. Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 3.0

Murray in 2015. Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY SA 3.0

However, even though this fight was something that the media of the time tried to exploit as much as they could, Murray feels that it was more of a statement than a physical encounter:

“So it was kind of a non-event. It was just the significance of it. It was an Oedipal thing, a rupture. Because we all felt mad he had left us, and somehow I was the anointed avenging angel, who had to speak for everyone. But Chevy and I are friends now. It’s all fine.”

Saturday Night Live Episode 11 — Pictured: (l-r) Bill Murray, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase during ‘Weekend Update’ on February 18, 1978. Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Saturday Night Live Episode 11 — Pictured: (l-r) Bill Murray, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase during ‘Weekend Update’ on February 18, 1978. Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The two actors confirmed their friendship by starring alongside one another in a 1980 comedy film Caddyshack, which over time garnered a large cult following, partly due to the fact that it represented the reconciliation of Murray and Chase.

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Although they had found peace, Chase is to this day considered to be a celebrity troublemaker. For example, one of his latest beef was with writer/actor/producer Dan Harmon, who stands behind titles such as the NBC sitcom Community and Adult Swim’s animated series Rick and Morty.

Chevy Chase on a panel for Community at PaleyFest 2010. Photo by Jesse Chang CC BY-SA 2.0

Chevy Chase on a panel for Community at PaleyFest 2010. Photo by Jesse Chang CC BY-SA 2.0

But before that, and after the fight with Murray, Chevy Chase had worked tirelessly to ensure himself the status of being one of the most hated people in show business. In one manner or another, he managed to aggravate celebrities like Howard Stern, Will Ferrell, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Smith, Bill Maher… the list goes on and on.

Regarding Chase’s ability to make enemies in the world of rich and famous, Bill Murray said in an interview for Live from New York, that such behavior comes with fame, but it needs to be put aside if you don’t want to ruin your career:

“You can’t help yourself. It happens to everybody. You’ve got like two years to pull it together — or it’s permanent.”

Read another story from us: Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft and Billionaire Philanthropist, Passes Away at 65

By the looks of it, it seems permanent in Chase’s case, for the actor’s career has been going downhill since his peak in the 1980s. Murray ― laid back as he is, both on screen and in real life ― appears to be doing well, as part of Wes Anderson’s ensemble cast, as well as an actor whose unique style and charisma are guaranteed to land him many memorable roles in the future.