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  • The comedian Chris Farley died of a combined cocaine and morphine overdose on December 18th, 1997. 

    At the time of his death, the 33 year-old actor and comedian had a portfolio of Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits, as well as supporting and starring roles in movies such as Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, and Black Sheep.

    Chris Farley had a reputation for physical, visceral humor, often centering on his body type and weight. His famous Chippendale skit with Patrick Swayze emphasized his weight as a central point of humor, a trend throughout his career.

    Many believe that his fame only heightened his personal insecurities and that he turned to drug and alcohol abuse as a form of escape.

    Chris Farley’s Life & Accomplishments

    Christopher Crosby Farley was born in 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin. He studied theater and communications at Marquette University. After graduation, he toured with groups such as the Improv Olympic Theater in Chicago and the Second City Theater.

    Farley was scouted by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, and joined the SNL cast in 1990. 

    He developed a rapport with SNL co-stars such as Adam Sandler and David Spade. Farley was able to use his SNL portfolio to land iconic Hollywood roles in movies such as Coneheads and Beverly Hills Ninja.

    Farley cited comedian John Belushi as one of his most significant influences. Belushi and Farley shared many similarities in both life and death. Both figures were famous Saturday Night Live actors who succumbed to drug overdose at the young age of 33.

    Drug Overdose & Death

    Chris Farley’s death occurred on December 18th, 1997. His body was discovered in his Chicago apartment the following day by his brother John. Medical examiners cited cocaine and morphine overdose as his cause of death, a combination of stimulant and painkiller drugs.

    Chris Farley also had advanced heart disease, likely as a result of his body weight and overeating. Doctors determined this condition also contributed to Farley’s fatal drug overdose.

    Marijuana, histamines, and the antidepressant Prozac were also present in Farley’s system at the time of his death. However, these substances were not believed to contribute to Farley’s cause of death. Alcohol was not present in Farley’s system at the time of death.

    History Of Substance Abuse

    Chris Farley had a long history of abusing drugs and alcohol. Farley’s struggles with drug and alcohol abuse resulted in suspensions from the SNL cast. Substance abuse contributed noticeably to his declining health towards the end of his life, especially in public appearances.

    SNL writer Bob Odenkirk cited the self-deprecating nature of Farley’s roles as a factor for his downfall. Chris Rock, who was an SNL cast member along with Farley, saw his Chippendale sketch as a dangerous turning point in Farley’s career and personal life.

    Chris Farley himself also cited the struggles of fame and attention as reasons for his ongoing alcohol and drug abuse. He struggled with his self-image and body weight, and it is likely that the self-deprecating nature of his “fat guy” character affected him negatively.

    Did Chris Farley Try To Get Help?

    Chris Farley attended drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs multiple times throughout his life. His struggles with drug and alcohol addiction were well-known. Some biographies claim that Farley entered drug and alcohol rehab at least 12 times over a two-year span.

    Unfortunately, Farley’s time in rehab was unsuccessful, and his patterns of high-risk drug use would soon take his life. Today, Farley is honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his peers and co-stars recall his career as a cautionary one.

    Recovery Is Possible

    Drug and alcohol addiction can affect people from all walks of life, including famous actors, professionals, and young people. However, recovery is possible with support, professional help, and willingness to live a healthier life.

    To find out if our drug and alcohol addiction treatment program can inspire hope and recovery in you or your loved one, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on November 14, 2022
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