Christopher Crosby "Chris" Farley was an American comedian and actor. Farley was a member of Chicago's The Second City Theatre and the cast of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He has also starred in a string of successful comedy films in the 1990s including Tommy Boy and Black Sheep before his death on December 18, 1997 in his Chicago apartment of cardiac arrest caused by a drug overdose.
Farley was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Mary Anne, a homemaker, and Thomas "Tom" Farley, Sr., who owned an oil company. He had three brothers, Tom, Jr., Kevin and John, and a sister, Barbara. His cousin, Jim Farley, is a vice president at Ford Motor Company. Farley's family are traditionally Irish Catholic, and Farley attended Catholic schools in his hometown, including Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart. According to Joel Murray, a fellow Second City cast member, Chris would "always make it to Mass". Many of his summers were spent as a camper and counselor at Red Arrow Camp, near Minocqua, Wisconsin.
Farley graduated from Marquette University in 1986, with a concentration in communications and theater. After college, he worked with his father at the Scotch Oil Company in Madison. He got his start in professional comedy at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison, and at the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago. He then performed at Chicago's Second City Theatre, initially as part of Second City's touring group. He was eventually promoted to their main stage. While working at Second City, he was discovered by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.
Along with Chris Rock, Farley was one of two new SNL cast members announced in the spring of 1990. On the show, Farley frequently collaborated with SNL fellow cast members David Spade, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Rob Schneider, among others. This group came to be known as the "Bad Boys of SNL". Popular characters performed by Farley included himself on "The Chris Farley Show", a talk show in which Farley quite often "interviewed" the guest, got very nervous and asked simple-minded or irrelevant questions, such as what their favorite rock band was; "Matt Foley", an over-the-top motivational speaker who constantly reminded other characters that he "lived in a van, down by the river"; Todd O'Connor of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a group of stereotypical Chicagoans who constantly shout "da Bears!";, a Chippendale's dancer, in a famous sketch that paired him with guest host Patrick Swayze; one of the "Gap Girls", who hung out together at a local mall; a stereotypical lunch lady, to the theme of Lunchlady Land performed by Adam Sandler; and Bennett Brauer, a Weekend Update commentator who often divulged his personal and hygienic problems via air quotes. Some of these characters were brought to SNL from his days at Second City. Farley also performed impersonations of Tom Arnold, who gave Farley's eulogy at his funeral; Andrew Giuliani, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dom DeLuise, Roger Ebert, Carnie Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Mindy Cohn, Hank Williams Jr., and Rush Limbaugh.