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)
John Belushi's star was on the rise. He had a top TV show, a top movie, and the top record album in the country back in'79, a record NO ONE has beat. Judy Pisano has done a wonderful job of showing the man behind the legend. It's full of pictures from her private collection, showing the rise an the fall of a true comic genius. We still miss you, John.
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!"
Belushi: A Biography was written by Judy Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby, Judy is John's widow, and you can tell this was a labor of love not only for Judy but for all the friends, relatives, teachers, cohorts and colleagues who share their stories of the time they spent with John and how he influenced their lives. Just about anybody who you can think of from SNL, National Lampoon, guest hosts, people from the movies both in front of and behind the camera, and anyone from any part of John's life share their stories. Of course Dan Aykroyd, Judy Belushi, Harold Ramis, John's mother, Jim Belushi, John Landis, Bill Murray, Robin Williams, Bernie Brillstein, Buck Henry, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Tom Davis, Anne Beatts, Richard Belzer, you name a person they probably show up in here. And of course the book is filled with high quality pictures of John and Judy, a lot of them unseen and some breathtaking such as the picture on the opening page which shows John in an open field on a sunny day his arms raised to take in and be alive in the moment.
John Belushi was a larger than life person and a book can't really contain all that was John Belushi the flesh and blood person but Belushi comes closest, and the force of John`s life is ably transmitted through the pictures and words of his friends.
If you have read other reviews of mine you know I really like the oral biography. It isn't easily pulled off but when it's done right they make for a great biography! And Belushi: A Biography is a great biography and a great service to John and his fans.
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.
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.