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Saturday Night Live Stars Who Sadly Never Made It In Hollywood

Saturday Night Live Stars Who Sadly Never Made It In Hollywood


For some comedians, Saturday Night Live represents
the biggest thing they’ll ever do in show business. For whatever reason, their success on late-night
comedy TV never quite transfered to other aspects of the entertainment industry, and
they never quite caught that big Hollywood break. While appearing on Saturday Night Live, Jan
Hooks seemed to do absolutely everything required of a future comedy superstar. Her inspired Betty Davis impersonation is
legendary in its own right. “You wrote a nasty tell-all book and I want
you to have a bad life! Hahahahahaha…” She played several recurring characters that
instantly endeared her to audiences, including her iconic portrayal of Candy Sweeney of the
“Sweeney Sisters” nightclub act. After leaving SNL in 1991, Hooks never quite
landed a role that showcased her immense talents. She briefly joined the cast of Designing Women
that same year, replacing Jean Smart. Unfortunately, the show was on its last legs,
and it simply couldn’t survive such enormous cast changes. Designing Women ultimately went off the air
in 1993. She had funny recurring roles on 3rd Rock
from the Sun and 30 Rock and she memorably voiced Apu’s wife Manjula on The Simpsons. Still, Hooks didn’t find nearly as many projects
as she deserved. When Hooks unexpectedly passed away in 2014
at the age of 57, several SNL legends paid homage to the comedian. Former castmate Kevin Nealon tweeted: “My girlfriend in the 80’s and my friend
forever, Janners. God, were you talented. Too soon and too sad.” Producer Lorne Michaels let go of most of
the long-standing SNL cast members in 1995, bringing in a new slate of performers that
included Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and Darrell Hammond. On a show that often includes impersonations
of celebrities and political figures, it’s important for SNL to always have a “man of
1,000 voices” in the mix. From 1995 to 2009, Hammond was that man. A remarkably skilled impressionist, he’s probably
the best mimic the show has ever seen. He took a nuanced, realistic approach, consistently
turning in remarkable impersonations of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Sean Connery. “Sean Connery just pick a catagory” “I”ll take horse semen for 800.” The fact that Hammond disappeared so thoroughly
into his characters may go some way in explaining why he never quite got the attention he deserved
even after 14 years in the cast. He scored a few bit parts in movies like Scary
Movie 3 and landed recurring roles on a few TV shows like Damages, but he’s never been
cast in any particularly monumental roles. In 2014, Hammond rejoined the SNL family as
its announcer, taking over for the deceased Don Pardo. Any SNL highlight reel that covers the early
’80s tends to focus on Eddie Murphy’s work in classic sketches like “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.” But castmate Joe Piscopo was almost as big
of a star, a fact that’s often obscured by Murphy’s tremendous post-SNL success. Piscopo performed a wide range of well-done
impressions on SNL, including Ronald Reagan, Ricard Nixon, and most famously, Frank Sinatra. In fact, Murphy and Piscopo teamed up for
a classic sketch parodying the 1982 hit song “Ebony and Ivory,” with Murphy playing Stevie
Wonder, and Piscopo playing Sinatra. “I’m very into that tune you do with the Beatle
kid, what’s his name, uh, the one that looks like a broad?” Piscopo and Murphy appeared on-screen together
a lot in fact, Piscopo played Pokey to Murphy’s Gumby. But then, in 1984, Piscopo left SNL. That same year, he starred in Johnny Dangerously,
a sendup of 1930s gangster movies. “You shouldn’t grab me Johnny. My mother grabbed me once. Once.” Piscopo was well-suited to playing tough guys
like Danny Vermin, but the film flopped at the box office. In fact, it was trounced in its opening weekend
by Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop. Piscopo’s career turned into a string of small
roles in TV shows, along with a few standup specials for cable TV, an extreme interest
in bodybuilding, and in 2017, floating plans to run for governor of New Jersey. As we mentioned earlier, SNL cleaned house
in the fall of 1995, bringing in a bunch of new performers to inject some energy into
the aging comedy institution. Cheri Oteri a veteran of the Los Angeles-based
Groundlings comedy troupe was among them. She brought that live theater dynamic to television
with a collection of truly wild and zany characters. “You can take your coat off if you’d like.” “It’s from the Burlington Coat Factory.” Who can forget her psychotically enthusiastic
Spartan cheerleader Arianna? “Roll call! Cha-cha-boochi… roll call!” Oh, and what about no-nonsense Nadeen? “Simma dahn nah!” Oteri was also celebrated for her brilliantly
silly impersonations of Barbara Walters and Debbie Reynolds. She often appeared in sketches opposite formidable
co-stars like Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, but Oteri always held her own, to say the
least. She was, without a doubt, one of SNL’s brightest
stars until she left the show in 2000. Later that year, she landed the major role
of Gail Hailstorm in the hit Scream sendup Scary Movie. She went on to star in the unfortunate Dumb
and Dumber prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Since then, she’s taken on several guest-starring
gigs and voice roles. Frankly, she deserves better. Plenty of SNL stars go big and broad to get
a reaction from the audience but Nora Dunn completely disappeared into her roles, much
like a film actress. Between 1985 and 1990, Dunn stepped into several
classic sketches, and she was never anything less than hilarious. You might remember her ridiculous turn as
Leona Helmsley. “Right away you’ll notice the little things…
things like real skeletons.” Or how about Babette, her ever-maudlin French
prostitute? “I’m a woman. What are you, blind? Do I have to spell it out for you? Woo, woo, woo, W-O-O-O-M-A-N, woman.” But Dunn’s most famous SNL contribution may
have been controversy. She publicly boycotted the second-to-last
episode of the 1989-’90 season, hosted by comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay because she found
his material homophobic and abusive to women. In a 1990 interview with Larry King, Clay
basically accused her of doing it all for publicity: “You’re saying that’s for effect, they’re
doing it…because they should know it’s an act?” “Yeah, you know, a great example is Nora Dunn.” More likely, she was simply offended by his
act. Since leaving the show, Dunn has landed a
lot of character-driven work, making appearances in shows like Grace and Frankie and It’s Always
Sunny in Philadelphia. But with such boundless talent, she deserves
a few plum roles that she can really sink her teeth into. Ellen Cleghorne was a vital part of the Saturday
Night Live cast of the early ’90s, playing a long line of memorable characters like Queen
Shenequa. “Kwanzaa is a Swahili word and it means ‘Santa
don’t come to my house.'” Cleghorne left the show of her volition in
1995, when the WB gave the comic performer her very own sitcom called Cleghorne!, but
it was canceled after just one season. As far as film work is concerned, Adam Sandler
did cast her in a supporting role in Grown Ups 2. Still, she’s got a lot going on. After going back to school and earning a PhD
in Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, you should now refer
to her as Dr. Ellen Cleghorne. So there. Garrett Morris made television history in
1975 as one of the original Saturday Night Live cast members or, as the group of relative
unknowns was collectively known, “The Not Ready for Primetime Players.” Starring on the envelope-pushing series brought
fame and fortune to almost everyone in the original cast … so why not Garrett Morris? During SNL’s early years, Morris stood out
for his wild and crazy characters. There was, of course, the Weekend Update translator
for the hard of hearing … a bit that never gets old. “President Ford is finally over Our top story
tonight … stubborn weeklong cold!” And fun fact: Morris became the first actor
to ever play Ant-Man on screen. Indeed, he portrays the character in an SNL
sketch called “Superhero Party.” “You don’t remember me? We met several times. I is Ant-Man.” Well, that certainly explains Morris’s cameo
in Ant-Man, doesn’t it? “What the hell…?” While former castmates like Bill Murray and
Dan Aykroyd dominated film comedy in the ’80s, Morris found the occasional role and appeared
in some rather middling fare. He had a brief cameo in the comedy How to
Beat the High Cost of Living, which co-starred fellow SNL alum Jane Curtain. At the age of 74, he was cast as diner cashier
Earl on the long-running 2 Broke Girls, so there’s that. Paul Brittain was 33 when he joined Saturday
Night Live in 2010. He quickly made a name for himself thanks
to some oddball and totally original characters. Why, here comes Lord Cecil Wyndemere, an immature,
old-timey aristocrat who dances around to harpsichord music and clearly possesses a
pronounced sweet tooth. “This is Cecil.” “I want sweets!” “What?” Don’t let his opulent fineries fool you. He’s not so different from you and I. You just needed some attention, didn’t ya?” “Yeah.” “I want to hold him.” And anyone remember this character? “Croatian import Goran ‘Funky Boy’ Bogdan.” “I go to your Sonic restaurant… I order a plate of dobakcheki … They tell me the
washroom is that way.” During the 2011-12 season, SNL’s Lorne Michaels
put Brittain on a half-season contract and opted not to renew it, making for an abrupt
mid-season disappearance. Since then, Brittain has racked up scarcely
more than a dozen credits, all of them small character parts. Probably his most prominent work came in Killing
Gunther, an indie comedy written and directed by his old SNL pal Taran Killam. Jerry Minor has been a part of numerous innovative
comedy projects and worked with plenty of comic visionaries, both before and after his
too-short tenure on SNL, which only lasted through the 2000-2001 season. “Hey, hey!” “What is it, Mr. Tarkanian?” “Oh, thank you, that’s exactly the response
I was looking for.” However, such projects lean more towards the
“cult classic” column than “smash hits.” Prior to SNL, Minor co-starred on David Cross
and Bob Odenkirk’s edgy and influential sketch comedy series Mr. Show. He was also a correspondent on The Daily Show,
albeit briefly. Following SNL, Minor starred on the Comedy
Central debate parody Crossballs and had a recurring role as Officer Carter on Arrested
Development. He also played an overburdened dad on ABC’s
short-lived Carpoolers. More recently, Minor popped up on Unbreakable
Kimmy Schmidt as an inept prosecutor named Chris, who just might be based O.J. Simpson
prosecutor Christopher Darden. In 1982, Eddie Murphy hosted SNL while still
in the cast, filling in for his sick 48 Hours co-star Nick Nolte. He also changed the show’s famous cold open
proclamation, changing it to “Live from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy show!” And SNL in the early ’80s was indeed “The
Eddie Murphy Show.” In fact, the comedy dynamo overshadowed the
solid work of many other cast members including Tim Kazurinsky. “Your Erroneous Zones. Guy can’t even spell.” Here he’s interviewing Richard Nixon, played
by Joe Piscopo beneath several pounds of makeup. “Well, now that you’re at the end of your
life, how does it feel to be the most vilified man in the country?” “Uh, sensational, I love it.” After leaving SNL in 1984, Kazurinsky hit
Hollywood, which, in the mid-’80s, needed guys like him to play nerds and dweebs. Case in point: He portrayed Carl Sweetchuck
in three Police Academy sequels. “If you don’t like it, you go around me.” Also an SNL writer, Kazurinsky went on to
write scripts for movies and TV, co-writing the 1986 romantic dramedy About Last Night…,
the 1988 film For Keeps, and writing an episode of According to Jim. Laura Kightlinger was a force to be reckoned
with on the stand-up comedy circuit in the ’90s, and her self-deprecating wit instantly
won her over with audiences. She eventually landed on Saturday Night LIve
as a double threat working as both a writer and a performer during the 1994-1995 season. “I bet this has some kind of happy ending,
eh?” “No, no, Norm — it doesn’t.” Indeed, the SNL cast was so overstuffed, she
reportedly struggled to get her material and her face on the air. After her brief stint with late-night comedy,
Kightlinger returned to stand-up and landed a bunch of small film and TV roles. In 2006, she emerged with gigs on two prominent
shows: HBO’s Lucky Louie and IFC’s The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman. Kightlinger created the latter, a semi-autobiographical
tale of a self-destructive struggling screenwriter. Kightlinger still acts on occasion here she
is in a recent episode of Pen15. “We don’t have much time before the show but
as you know, something of Heather’s was stolen. A thong.” These days, she’s mainly focusing her attention
elsewhere: She’s a successful writer and producer who’s worked on Will & Grace a show she’s
also appeared in on occasion. Surely all these accomplishments take some
of the sting out of her less-than-legendary SNL stint. Maybe marriage is in my future.” “…. I certainly envy the lucky guy that
winds up with you, Laura.” “You do, Norm?” “Yeah.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
shows are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

100 comments on “Saturday Night Live Stars Who Sadly Never Made It In Hollywood

  1. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn back in the day. Definitely a loss that they didn't get the post-SNL roles they deserved.

  2. No,, I will not refer to Ellen Cleghorne as "Doctor". "Performance Studies" is not a real major. It's one of those things kids who can't handle STEM majors take.

  3. Actually, many of these people had steady work, so "making it in Hollywood" is far too often associated with "being multimillionaires", even though it often is about politics and selective stupidity… which the current SNL is thoroughly saturated with! SNL nowadays isn't where new performers cut their teeth.. more often than not.. it is were comedy careers go to die.

  4. How about 1980's performer Charles Rocket, who was on in the non-Lorne Michaels years. Tried to make it in Hollywood, was even in "Dances With Wolves," but committed suicide. Sad.

  5. I absolutely agree that Jan Hooks & Cheri Oteri deserved more after SNL. They were so good & funny. And I was really sad when Jan died.

    Laura Kightlinger still looks good.

    Nora Dunn was really funny when she played Frank's ex-wife on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

    In a parallel universe, it was Joe Piscopo who saved SNL & Eddie Murphy disappeared into obscurity.

    And I'm really happy that Ellen Cleghorne went back to school after SNL & found some success.

  6. And those who have made it to Hollywood are far behind the extreme genius of Dan Aykroyd original SNL member from 1975-78 who made iconic characters and Ruled Hollywood in the 80's with The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and other movies. Very few have the tri fector of actor, writer and director.

  7. Garrett Morris had a lucrative career he was on Martin and The Jamie Foxx Show as well as others he was very successful in Hollywood you got that man's career completely wrong Looper

  8. Y'all need to do better with your Black viewers, and be more informed. You completely glossed over Garrett Morris' accomplishments on prominent, long-term Black sitcoms. SMH. Disappointed.

  9. FYI , Tim Kazurinsky did not necessarily want to be in front of the camera.He once told me that he played Sweet John im Police Academy to pay off the summer house!

  10. Tall, thin, white males have a lot better chance of staying in show business after leaving SNL. That's why Will Ferrell and Chevy Chase had big careers while Chris Kattan and Cheri Oteri didn't.

  11. Garrett Morris is more successful than Norm McDonald . 2 broke girls, Jaime Foxx show and recurring charater on Martin and Hunter .

  12. What the hell? Garrett Morris is a legend. He was on the Jamie Foxx show that ran for 5 seasons in the 00s and he was on 2 Broke Girls on CBS (that you only mentioned) Stop with the shade and have a seat.

  13. why the fuck would you have to ask siri the name of the place you had just ordered pizza from? are we Truly becoming sooooo blind to these ridiculous adds??

  14. The only thing that was funny about Nora Dunce was hearing you saying she was funny and had boundless talent. And Andrew Dice Clay wasn't only person that said Nora Dunce boycotted for the publicity. Jon Lovitz and Victoria Jackson also did interviews saying Nora Dunce was looking for a last hurrah since she knew her contract with SNL wasn't going to be renewed. The only thing about her that made me laugh was seeing her do a Clorox commercial while Andrew Dice Clay had his own show on Showtime. Btw, a lot of Dunce's characters on SNL depicted women as idiots, so don't try to bullshit me into thinking she was taking a stand for women's rights when she boycotted SNL. All she was was an early example of Get Woke Go Broke. I'm happy to see her career turn to shit.

  15. Garret Morris was a regular in both “Martin” and “The Jamie Foxx Show”. At least in the Black community those shows were huge.

  16. Looper…you guys suck. You slept on Mr. Morris. After that big miss, I cant take your video serious. Do your homework.

  17. Hey!!!! Joe Piscopo played in the cult classic and one of my faves as a kid Dead Heat and some more disturbing and creepy roles in some of the Olson twin movies which i know this because of younger siblings watching them.

  18. And Garret Morris is one of the best character actors from the early 80s onward playing in dozens of movies. You people should really do better research because success in show biz is sometimes just getting any roles at all.

  19. Totally disagree on some of the people listed. Nora Dunn has had more steady work compared to Victoria Jackson or Mary Gross.
    You should of included Lorraine Newman instead of Garrett Morris.

  20. Video makers are super white so of course they wouldnt know Garrett Morris was a big character in "Martin"… Just stick to people that you know.

  21. nora dunn has had small roles in real movies, not waynes stuart smally world horseshit so loren micheals can write off the loss on his taxes

  22. He was ON THE JAMIE FOXX SHOW FOR ABOUT 20 SEASON GARRETT MORRIS WAS YOUR NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE BLACK COMMUNITY CLEARLY

  23. You literally showed all actors & actresses that have made it BiG & done very well for themselves with Great & long careers.

  24. Isn't the case that a lot of names have gone threw SNL over the years, like with many other tv shows that some people get the succes, some don't.

    Shame that Jan Hooks didn't become that much of a big name.

  25. Many of the people listed simply didn't connect with audiences in mainstream roles. They make great 2nd or 3rd bananas. At the same time their acting is pretty much the same from project to project. Nothing new or different.

  26. Jim Breuer didn't make the list? He's one of the funniest human beings ever live and he's got virtually nothing since his days on Saturday Night Live

  27. Nora Dunn screwed up. I always liked her till she did that. It's always in the back of my mind anytime I see her. I can't laugh heartily at her or cheer for her. Ironically, I admire Lisa Welchell after she made her statement. I never cared for her before she protested.

  28. Johnny Dangerously was one of those movies my parents should never have let me watch as a kid! Right up there with the Conan and Porky's flicks. 🙂

  29. Are all these people dead or something?? Cause y'all acting as if they have no chance to become Hollywood A listers as long as you are alive you have a chance!

  30. Garrett Morrison was a regular cast member on the Jamie Foxx Show (TV series 1996-2001) portraying Jamie's uncle Junior King aka "Uncle Junior", a hotel owner. How did this fact become forgotten or omitted? Please add this in if you can

  31. I love Jan Hooks – her stuff on SNL was great but her funniest stuff was on Tush, a WTBS show hosted by Bill Tush. Her Tammy Jean routine is one of the funniest things ever put on television: look it up you'll thank me!

  32. Cheri Oteri was great in Bad Parents (2012) and Nora Dunn was amazing in a small role in Three Kings (1999). But "did anyone ever find a vehicle for Ellen Cleghorne?" – Stewie (that line in Little Nicky hardly counts)

  33. If you notice those who did make it only made it because they went on to be on hit shows that THEY wrote and produced, leading later to hit movies that were also written and produced by them or past SNL writers… That's why when there is 1 person from SNL in a movie, they will always be 3 more.
    Those that did become a big name using that managed to land roles in actual movies later… Kirstin Wiigs upcoming wonder woman sequel role is probably the biggest non comedic role an SNL cast member ever had.

    But ya.unless they become directors or very close friends with others and the producers, they are not making it outside of SNL.

  34. I am aware of all these people and not from snl either. Looper I do great research hire me. You dropped the ball on Garrett Morris and a few others.

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