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Belushi: A Biography Hardcover – Nov 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Through brief sound bites from friends, family members, fellow comedians and entertainment industry big-shots, this surprisingly touching oral history of one of the best-loved American comics portrays John Belushi as a rags-to-riches hero who became a larger-than-life star before overdosing on heroin and cocaine at the Chateau Marmont in 1982. Pisano, Belushi's teenage sweetheart turned wife, compiled the book from a series of interviews conducted shortly after her 33-year-old husband's death, and charts the Belushi myth, as told by Dan Aykroyd, Carrie fisher and Al Franken, among many others, from John's Chicago childhood through after his death. Highlights include Belushi's role as the Blue Fairy in a High School pageant, in which he was characterized as "a man who did not resemble a woman;" the evolution of The Blues Brothers from Saturday Night Live skit to major label band; and the harrowing accounts of Belushi's final weeks. Readers will be entertained and moved by this deeply personal account of a talented and complicated man. Family snapshots as well as behind-the-scenes photos complement the story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pisano's second book on the Saturday Night Live star (remember then-Judith Jacklin Belushi's Samurai Widow, 1991?) drags in an accomplice to collect quotes from eyewitnesses to John Belushi's life and career, combine them with dozens of photos (including family and college shots), and present a sort of oral history of the comedian's riotous professional rise and abrupt, mortal fall. It's a humorous, nostalgic show-biz-trivia goldmine. The thoughts of such collaborators and costars as Chevy Chase, Tony Hendra, and Robin Williams are mixed with those of pre-SNLfriends and college acquaintances. Lorne Michaels, Dick Ebersol, and Michael O'Donoghue describe working with Belushi on SNL and National Lampoon radio projects. John Landis and Tim Matheson contribute movie memories (Belushi "did the entire [Animal House] cafeteria line scene in one take"). Dan Aykroyd comments on it all. Al Franken's here, as is his oft-forgotten SNL collaborator, Tom Davis. Mostly testimonial stuff, to be sure, but also the collected reactions to Belushi's drug-overdose death--an often-bitter, hugely disappointed set of remarks about his final days. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now we've come full circle with this wonderful biography of the man himself, told by those who knew him best. John was many things to many people, and all facets of his life and personality are talked about in this book, often with amazing candor.
I also have to comment on the wealth of photos included in the book, many from the private collections of Judith and the Belushi family. They're a real treat to see (John was a very cute little boy) and add to the sense that this is a very personal biography.
Fans of John will love this book. It reveals the funny, kind, infuriating, generous person that we as his fans, who could only know and love him through his work, always knew he really was.
many of them make you instantly smile. Each chapter of the
book takes you through a chapter of John's life told by those
who knew him, loved him, and worked with him.
Reading this book gave me the opportunity to listen in on all
of John's friends and family sharing all of their experiences.
Hearing so many different ways to describe the events in
John's life, through so many different eyes, allows us to finally
begin to understand what kind of person he really was.
I knew all sorts of facts about John Belushi. But, now after
this book, I feel as I though I actually know the man. It is
this connection that inspires me to work even harder to keep
the memory of John Belushi alive.
And, title aside, it is not really a biography; it is an oral and pictorial history. But that is its strength. The voices of those friends & family come through, showing their love for the man.
But the interesting thing is, as awesome as some of the stories may be (especially to those who haven't read them before); the pictures do an even more excellent job.
Some of the photos were previously seen in SAMURAI WIDOW and WIRED, but most are never before published. And in them, you can see the buildup from Belushi's boyhood through the first three years of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Then the explosion when that show, ANIMAL HOUSE, and the Blues Brothers record all hit at the same time.
And then the fallout. Visually, I think you can mark the moment when the road turned hard for John; it's in a full-page picture, on page 172, of him in costume for 1941.
It's in his eyes. Look at most of the photos that precede this one, and there is a light in them, something that's growing, some kind of spark.
And though it's probably too simple to say that Hollywood stunted that growth and killed that spark, it's also, probably, accurate.
Because in most of the post-1941 photos, that spark is gone, with only a brief resurgence in the pictures taken during the filming of CONTINENTAL DIVIDE.
This was apparently a happy (if not always fun) time for John, and the pictures reflect that. Unfortunately, more so than the movie, which is enjoyable but instantly forgettable.
The key picture here for me is on page 222. It shows Belushi wrapped in a blanket, sitting on some cabin steps in his stocking feet. He's just sitting, and staring, and thinking of god knows what, but the image has an apparent vulnerability that the photogenic John rarely showed in pictures. He was a man who always seems to have known where the camera was and how to keep its eye on him. Not here.
But CONTINENTAL DIVIDE flopped, and in the photos that follow, he mostly looks wasted. I don't mean that with the drug connotation, I mean that spark was being denied again.
A note at the end proclaims, "This book is not objective," and it isn't, so bully for them for admitting it. It's an attempt to bring a loved one back to life by talking about him.
Well-collected and organized first-person interview quotes, personal photographs, behind-the-scenes stories...this is a wonderful, yet cautionary, tale of the 1970's in America. I laughed out loud; tears came to my eyes. Thank you, authors.
Disclaimer: John Belushi was born in the same hospital (a few years later) as I was; one of his father's restaurants was two blocks from where I did some of my growing up; I was in Second City audiences while John was there; I've watched SNL faithfully since its first year; I saw even John's bad movies. Prejudiced I am-this is still an admirable, accurate, caring biography.
So how could there be anything left to say?
I hesitated about buying BELUSHI but, after I picked it up and started thumbing through it, I couldn't put it down. And I couldn't put it down after I got it home. The stories are told by the people who were at ground zero in Belushi's life and the photos are new and personal.
This is a great book for the person discovering what a stormy genius John Belushi was and for the long-time fan who thought he or she knew everything about him.
And BELUSHI is also for everyone else in between.
As Senator John Blutarsky once said, "NOTHING IS OVER UNTIL WE DECIDE IT IS!"