1980s 'Saturday Night Live' stars: Where are they now?

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Late night sketch show “Saturday Night Live” has been one of television’s most beloved sources of comedy since its launch in 1975. Now in its 47th season, it is one of the small screen’s longest running shows and has racked up a record 252 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the most received by any television program ever. It’s featured a rotating roster of comedic talents during its incredible run and underwent a creative renaissance in the ’80s that launched the careers of numerous major names. Join Wonderwall.com as we run through some of the the best “Saturday Night Live” players from that decades and see what they’re up to now…

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Eddie Murphy joined “Saturday Night Live” in 1980, marking the first time he garnered national attention for his work. He was credited for revitalizing the show by creating memorable characters like a grown-up version of the “Little Rascals” character Buckwheat, a streetwise children’s show host named Mr. Robinson parodying Mr. Rogers, and a morose, cynical Gumby, whose trademark slogan became an “SNL” catchphrase: “I’m Gumby, dammit!” Once Eddie began racking up major theatrical hits, he felt he had outgrown the series and left in 1984.

RELATED: ’90s “Saturday Night Live” stars: Where are they now?

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While doing “Saturday Night Live,” Eddie Murphy also worked as a stand-up comedian — he was ranked as one of Comedy Central’s Top 10 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. He worked steadily in films after leaving the series, starting with the “Beverly Hills Cop” series, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination. He also garnered nods for his work in 1996’s “The Nutty Professor” and 2019’s “Dolemite Is My Name.” He also won numerous awards for his work in the 1998 comedy “Dr. Dolittle” and its 2001 sequel, cementing his status as one of Hollywood’s biggest comedic movie stars. His filmography also includes “Coming to America,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Bowfinger,” “Daddy Day Camp” and “Meet Dave.” In 2007, Eddie won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor and received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his dramatic work in the movie-musical “Dreamgirls.” He’s also made an impression as a voice actor with roles in “Mulan,” the sitcom “The PJs” and as Donkey in the “Shrek” series. Eddie’s films have grossed more than $6.7 billion worldwide and he was once declared the sixth highest grossing actor in the United States. In 2015, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He won his first Primetime Emmy, for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series, for hosting “Saturday Night Live” in 2020.

RELATED: Everyone who’s anchored “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live”

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Phil Hartman joined “Saturday Night Live” in its 12th season in 1986 and stayed for eight years. He told the the Los Angeles Times, “I wanted to do [‘SNL’] because I wanted to get the exposure that would give me box office credibility so I can write movies for myself.” Phil became known for his impressions of Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Ed McMahon, Barbara Bush, Charlton Heston, Phil Donahue and Bill Clinton and performed as more than 70 different characters. He was nicknamed “Glue” by the show’s cast and crew for his ability to hold the show together and help other cast members. Phil won a Primetime Emmy Award for for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program for his work in 1989.

RELATED: “Saturday Night Live” stars’ love lives

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Phil Hartman left “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-’90s to launch his own variety series, “The Phil Show,” which was scrapped before it ever made it to air. Instead, he landed a lead role on the acclaimed NBC sitcom “NewsRadio.” He also had minor roles in the films “Houseguest,” “Sgt. Bilko,” “Jingle All the Way” and “Small Soldiers” and provided the voices for numerous characters on 52 episodes of the long-running animated series “The Simpsons.” In 1998, Phil was tragically shot dead by wife Brynn Omdahl while he was asleep in bed before she later died by suicide. In the weeks following his passing, the actor was celebrated in a wave of tributes and was posthumously inducted into the Canada and Hollywood Walks of Fame. Entertainment Weekly opined that he was “the last person you’d expect to read about in lurid headlines in your morning paper… a decidedly regular guy, beloved by everyone he worked with.”

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Dana Carvey became a household name when he joined “Saturday Night Live” in 1986, helping to reverse the show’s declining popularity by making it must-see TV once again. The comedian came up with a slew of beloved original characters while doing the series, such as the Church Lady, the uptight, smug, and pious host of “Church Chat,” and Garth Algar from the “Wayne’s World” sketches, who was based on his brother. Throughout the election and presidency of George H. W. Bush, he was the designated impersonator of the president, making him the lead actor of the regular political sketches at the time. The “Wayne’s World” sketch became so popular that it launched a hit theatrical film in 1992 as well as a sequel the following year. In 1993, Dana left “SNL” and won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program.

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After “Saturday Night Live,” Dana Carvey continued making feature films like 1994’s “Trapped in Paradise” and “Clean Slate,” 2000’s “Little Nicky” and 2002’s “The Master of Disguise,” and filmed his first HBO stand-up special. He continued doing stand-up comedy, being ranked on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, but stepped away from movies after 2002 until 2011’s “Jack and Jill.” He instead decided to focus on his family, raising two children with wife Paula Zwagerman.He filmed a second stand-up special for HBO in 2008 followed by a Netflix special in 2016. He also lent his voice to the 2016 animated film “The Secret Life of Pets” as well as its 2019 sequel. In 2021, he reprised his role as Garth Algar in a series of “Wayne’s World”-themed commercials for Uber Eats. Dana also launched the comedy podcast “Fantastic! with Dana Carvey,” which features mini sketches involving his many celebrity impressions as well as interview segments with his family members and other friends from the stand-up comedy world.

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Mike Myers began appearing on “Saturday Night Live” in 1989 and eventually became the first repertory player added to the show’s cast in over two years. “He quickly became one of the show’s biggest draws thanks to his talent for creating oddball characters with memorable catchphrases,” wrote Entertainment Weekly. The funnyman became best known for playing Wayne Campbell in the popular “Wayne’s World” sketches as well as Dieter, the host of “Sprockets,” and Linda Richman, hostess of “Coffee Talk.” Following the two hit “Wayne’s World” films, Mike left “SNL” in 1995 to focus on big screen opportunities.

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Mike Myers took a two-year hiatus from performing after the end of his time on “Saturday Night Live” before returning in 1997 as the lead actor and writer of the hit 1997 comedy “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.” The spy spoof also launched two successful sequels, 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and 2002’s “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” One of Mike’s rare non-comedic roles came in the 1998 drama “54,” in which he played the real-life owner of New York City’s famous ’70s nightclub Studio 54. In 2001, he provided the voice of the titular character in the animated film “Shrek” and went on to reprise the role in numerous sequels and specials. He also played the title role in the 2003 big screen adaptation of “The Cat In The Hat” and starred in and co-wrote 2008’s “The Love Guru.” He had a small role in 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds” before taking a nearly decade-long hiatus from acting. 2018 provided a comeback with supporting parts in “Terminal” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Mike is reportedly now working on a series for Netflix as well as another Austin Powers sequel.

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Martin Short joined “Saturday Night Live” during the 1984–85 season, helping revive the show with his numerous original characters. “Short’s appearance on ‘SNL’ helped to revive the show’s fanbase, which had flagged after the departure of Eddie Murphy, and in turn, would launch his successful career in films and television,” Turner Classic Movies wrote. He incorporated many of the ideas from his time on the Canadian sketch-comedy series “Second City Television,” including his Ed Grimley character, an excessively cowlicked, voluble, hyperactive man-child who’s obsessed with banal popular culture, particularly “Wheel of Fortune.”

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Martin Short ended the ’80s with his first HBO stand-up special and went into the ’90s starring on three television shows called “The Martin Short Show” including a 1994 sitcom, a 1995 sketch-comedy show and a 1999 syndicated talk show. He was also busy with films, nabbing parts in “Three Amigos,” “Innerspace,” “The Big Picture,” “Captain Ron,” “Clifford,” “Three Fugitives,” “Father of the Bride,” “Pure Luck,” “Mars Attacks!” and “Jungle 2 Jungle.” Martin started the ’00s by playing Jiminy Glick on Comedy Central’s “Primetime Glick” from 2001 to 2003. He also guest starred on shows like “Arrested Development,” “Muppets Tonight,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Weeds” and “Damages.” Martin joined the cast of “How I Met Your Mother” in 2011 before starring on the short-lived sitcom “Mulaney” in 2014. Two years later, he hosted the NBC variety series “Maya & Marty” opposite Maya Rudolph. He was most recently seen on 2021’s hit Hulu series “Only Murders In The Building,” which has been renewed for a second season.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus dropped out of Northwestern University during her junior year after getting cast on “Saturday Night Live” in 1982 at 21, making her the youngest female cast member in the history of the program at that time. She later said her casting was a “Cinderella-getting-to-go-to-the-ball kind of experience,” but also admitted that at times it was often quite tense, stating that she “didn’t know how to navigate the waters of show business in general and specifically doing a live sketch-comedy show.” During her third and final season on the show, she met Larry David — who worked as a writer on “SNL” for one season and went on to create “Seinfeld,” on which Julia starred — before she left in 1985.

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Shortly after departing “Saturday Night Live,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus nabbed parts in films such as “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Soul Man” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” before starring on the short-lived NBC sitcom “Day by Day” for two seasons.Her breakthrough role came in 1989 with the part of Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld” and lasted for nine years. She garnered critical acclaim for her performance and was a regular winner and nominee at television award shows throughout the ’90s. Julia earned a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and the 1996 Primetime Emmy Award for best supporting actress in a comedy series, an award she was nominated for on seven occasions from 1992 to 1998. She also appeared in the films “Fathers’ Day” and “Deconstructing Harry” before “Seinfeld” came to an end. The star then bucked the so-called “Seinfeld” curse: She went on to star on her own show, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” from 2006 to 2010 and won another Emmy. She then moved on to HBO’s “Veep” in 2012 and won six consecutive best lead actress in a comedy series Emmys (setting a new record!) for her performance as Selina Meyer before it wrapped in 2019. In 2020, Julia headlined the dramedy “Downhill” opposite Will Ferrell and lent her voice to Pixar’s “Onward.” In 2021, the breast cancer survivor joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe when she appeared on the Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as well as in the movie “Black Widow.”

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Billy Crystal was originally recruited for the first season of “Saturday Night Live,” but after his initial set was cut down, his managers pulled him from the show. He then pursued a stand-up career that made him one of the country’s leading comedians and landed a starring role on the sitcom “Soap.” Billy guest-hosted “SNL” a few times and officially joined the show full time for the 10th season in 1984. “I think when I came to the show I was sort of a piñata of ideas and thoughts and characters, and all kinds of things happened,” he said in the 2015 book “Live From New York.” “Every day I was excited at the discovery of what we could do. I never put a time limit on how long I would be there or what it would give me or get me. I didn’t approach it like that. I just felt personally as a performer and as a creative person I had to give it my shot.” While only staying on the show for one season, he became known for his recurring sketches featuring Fernando, a smarmy talk show host whose catchphrase, “You look… mahvelous,” became a media sensation.

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Shortly after “Saturday Night Live,” Billy Crystal became a movie star thanks to roles in films like “Running Scared,” “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally…” and “City Slickers,” with the latter two earning him Golden Globe Award nominations. He then wrote, directed and starred in “Mr. Saturday Night” and “Forget Paris” before taking on parts in “Deconstructing Harry,” “Analyze This,” “America’s Sweethearts,” the sequel “Analyze That” and “Parental Guidance.” The funnyman also lent his voice to the blockbuster Pixar films “Monsters, Inc.,” “Cars” and “Monsters University.” He also famously hosted the Academy Awards nine times. More recently, Billy starred on the FX series “The Comedians” and in the indie dramedy “Here Today.” Fans also heard him on the Disney+ series “Monsters at Work.”

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Jon Lovitz became a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” in 1985 and later explained in the book “Live From New York” that it was the most memorable time in his career, as he went from having no money to being offered a $500,000 film contract. His notable characters included Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar, who used the line “Yeah! That’s the ticket!” as a catchphrase to punctuate painfully elaborated implausible lies, and Hanukkah Harry, a Jewish contemporary of Santa Claus who travels the globe with a cart flown by three donkeys to give bland gifts to Jewish boys and girls. Other recurring characters and impersonations included Annoying Man, Master Thespian, Tonto, Mephistopheles, Harvey Fierstein and Michael Dukakis. He was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for his work before eventually leaving the series in 1990.

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Jon Lovitz followed “Saturday Night Live” with a supporting role in the hit 1992 film “A League of Their Own” and appeared on TV shows like “Las Vegas,” “Friends” and “Just Shoot Me.” He also took to the big screen in “Little Nicky” and “The Producers” and voiced Quasimodo in 2012’s “Hotel Transylvania.” In addition to his 30-year contribution to voicing various characters on “The Simpsons,” Jon acted in 2016’s “Killing Hasselhoff,” “Arctic Adventure: On Frozen Pond” and “Mother’s Day.” From 2016 to 2017, he portrayed Old Ben on the TV series “Animals.” He was more recently seen on a 2020 episode of the television comedy “A.P. Bio.”

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“Saturday Night Live” cast Kevin Nealon in 1986 after he was recommended by his friend Dana Carvey; he became a full-time performer the following year. He stayed on the show for a then-record nine seasons, becoming known for characters like Mr. Subliminal, Frank Gannon, P.I.P.I., Bob Waltman and Franz of “Hans and Franz” alongside Dana. Kevin is also famous foranchoring “Weekend Update” for three seasons from 1991 to 1994. He left the show the following year.

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After departing “Saturday Night Live,” Kevin Nealon moved into films with 1996’s “Happy Gilmore,” 1998’s “The Wedding Singer,” 2000’s “Little Nicky,” 2003’s “Daddy Day Care,” 2008’s “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” 2009’s “Aliens in the Attic” and 2011’s “Just Go with It.” He also had recurring roles on the sitcoms “Still Standing” from 2003 to 2006 and “‘Til Death” in 2010. From 2005 to 2012, he had a lead part on the acclaimed Showtime comedy series “Weeds.” When the show wrapped, he was seen in films like “Blended” in 2014, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” in 2016 and “Father of the Year” in 2018. He was also a supporting player on all four seasons of the Matt LeBlanc sitcom “Man with a Plan” from 2016 to 2020. In 2020, he lent his voice to the animated shows “Family Guy” and “Mike Tyson Mysteries.” Outside of acting, Kevin published a book in 2008 titled “Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me?” and hosts the YouTube series “Hiking with Kevin.”





















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