Saturday Night Live cast members
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The following is a list of Saturday Night Live cast members, past and present. The cast members of Saturday Night Live were originally referred to as the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players".
List of all cast members
As of March 2014, the show has featured 139 cast members. The list below includes both repertory and featured players, but omits SNL writers and others who were not listed as cast members during the show's credits. The dates given are those of the years they were part of the cast. Also noted on the chart is whether the cast member ever served as an episode's host, appeared as the anchorperson of the "Weekend Update" segment (by any of its titles), or has been the subject of their own "Best of" home video collection. Many of the cast members were writers as well.
Timeline of cast members
Lighter colors denote "featured players" versus repertory cast members.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2011)|
Some cast members are related to former staff of the show. One example is Jim Belushi, who is the younger brother of cast member John Belushi. Before that, Bill Murray's older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, was a writer and cast member. When Dan Aykroyd left the show in 1979, he was replaced by a series of short-lived featured players, one of whom was his brother Peter Aykroyd. Short-lived featured player Matthew Laurance is the identical twin brother of 1977–1980 SNL associate director and bit player Mitchell Laurance. Long-time writer and sometime performer Jim Downey is former cast member Robert Downey, Jr.'s uncle. Former SNL cast member Abby Elliott is the daughter of former cast member Chris Elliott (and granddaughter of Bob Elliott, who appeared on SNL as a guest performer on the 1978 Christmas episode hosted by Elliott Gould). Former featured player Paul Brittain is the nephew to Bob Newhart, who hosted the show in the 70s. Cast member Jason Sudeikis is the nephew of semi-frequent 90s host George Wendt, who portrayed Norm on the television show, Cheers.
Other staff are related by marriage. For instance, cast member Gilda Radner was briefly married to G. E. Smith, who later became the show's bandleader. Michael O'Donoghue was married to SNL band pianist Cheryl Hardwick. Cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall were married in 1987. Former cast member and head writer Tina Fey is married to former show composer Jeff Richmond.
The following is a list of the cast members with the longest tenures, who have spent at least eight seasons on the show.
|Performer||No. of seasons||Notes|
|Darrell Hammond||14||Hammond was hired after a cast overhaul in 1995. He is the last cast member hired in the 1990s to leave the show, the oldest cast member to leave the show (53 when he left the show), and the longest-active cast member, spending 14 seasons on the show (1995–2009).|
|Seth Meyers||13||Meyers joined the show in 2001 and was the head writer and anchor of Weekend Update. In 2013, his tenure on Weekend Update reached its eighth year, making him the longest-serving Weekend Update anchor and breaking the records once held by Dennis Miller and Tina Fey. He left the show in 2014 to take over hosting duties for Late Night.|
|Al Franken||12||Franken was hired as a writer in the beginning of the series in 1975. As the show progressed, he and Tom Davis were allowed to perform material on air sporadically. He left the show in 1980, but returned to the show when Lorne Michaels came back in 1985, regaining his writing and on-air featured status until season 20 in 1995.|
|Fred Armisen||11||Armisen joined the show in 2002. He left the show in 2013. He is the show's longest-running Hispanic cast member (beating out the Chilean-born Horatio Sanz), as well as the longest-running Asian cast member (part Japanese). He left the show at the end of season 38.|
|Kenan Thompson||11||Thompson joined the show in 2003 and is on his eleventh season. He holds the records of longest-running cast member who was born after SNL premiered in 1975 and the first cast member born after 1975 to join the show's cast. Thompson is also the longest-active African-American cast member.|
|Tim Meadows||10||Meadows joined the show in early 1991. He left the show at the end of the season 25, after ten seasons on the show. He held the record for the longest-active cast member until 2005 (when Darrell Hammond broke the record).|
|Jason Sudeikis||9||Sudeikis joined the cast in 2005, towards the end of season 30, after having been a writer for the show since 2003. He left the show in 2013.|
|Kevin Nealon||9||Nealon joined the show in 1986. He served as anchor of Weekend Update for his sixth, seventh and eighth seasons, and gave up his position as anchor in his ninth season. Nealon quit the show after the last episode of season 20 in 1995.|
|Phil Hartman||8||Hartman, like Nealon, joined the show in 1986. He left in 1994 and hosted the show twice in 1996.|
|Chris Parnell||8||Parnell was hired in 1998 and was fired in 2001 to make way for new talent. About a year later, he was rehired and remained on the show until he was let go for the second time in 2006 due to budget cuts.|
|Horatio Sanz||8||Like Parnell, Sanz joined the show in 1998 and was let go due to budget cuts in 2006. He served as co-anchor of Weekend Update in season 31 with Poehler for a few episodes, after Fey gave birth to her first child, making him the show's only Hispanic Weekend Update anchor. He was the longest-running Hispanic cast member until Fred Armisen broke his record.|
|Maya Rudolph||8||Rudolph joined the show in early 2000. She was absent for most of season 31 following the birth of her child. She did not return to the show in 2008 after the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike ended.|
|Amy Poehler||8||Like Seth Meyers, Poehler joined the show in 2001. She served as co-anchor of Weekend Update with Tina Fey in 2004–06 and with Meyers in 2006–08. She left the series in 2008 to begin production on Parks and Recreation.|
|Will Forte||8||Forte joined the show, like Armisen, in 2002. He left the series after the release of MacGruber in 2010.|
|Bill Hader||8||Hader joined the show in 2005. He left the show in 2013.|
The following is a list of the former cast members who have had the shortest tenures, spending less than a full 20-episode season on the show.
|Performer||No. of episodes||Notes|
|Catherine O'Hara||0||In the early 1980s when SCTV was in between network deals, O'Hara was hired to replace Ann Risley when SNL was being retooled in 1981. However, she quit the show without ever appearing on air, choosing to go back to SCTV when the show signed on with NBC. Her SNL position was then given to fellow Canadian Robin Duke.|
|Emily Prager||1||Prager was hired by Dick Ebersol to be a featured player on the show. She appeared in a few sketches at dress rehearsal in what would be the final episode of the season six, due to the Writers' Guild of America going on strike in 1981. She did not return to the SNL cast in season seven. Although she did not appear in the single episode for which she was credited as a featured player, she had appeared uncredited in five previous episodes.|
|Laurie Metcalf||1||Like Prager, Metcalf was hired as part of Dick Ebersol's temporary season six cast following the termination of Jean Doumanian. Unlike Prager, she appeared on-camera in a Weekend Update piece. When the show was put on hiatus for retooling, she was not chosen to return to the show for the season seven cast.|
|Dan Vitale||3||Was hired as an on-and-off featured player for the season 11, he was only credited with appearing in three episodes throughout the season.|
|Morwenna Banks||4||Was hired as a repertory player for the last four episodes of season 20, but was let out of her contract as part of a major cast overhaul Lorne Michaels had planned for season 21.|
|Ben Stiller||4||Before becoming a cast member, Stiller submitted a short film—a parody of the movie The Color of Money – that was shown on the season 12 episode hosted by Charlton Heston. Stiller was hired during season 14, but quit after four episodes due to creative differences. Despite this, he returned to host in 1998 and 2011.|
|Tom Schiller||7||Schiller was one of the show writers who was upgraded to cast member status during season five. He left the show at the end of the season.|
|Patrick Weathers||7||Weathers was hired as a featured cast member for season six, but was fired along with many of Doumanian's cast.|
|George Coe||8||Coe was one of the original "Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players", because NBC wanted someone older in the cast. He was credited for only the first three episodes, though he continued to make several uncredited appearances throughout the first season.|
|Yvonne Hudson||8||Hudson was a recurring extra during season five, and became the first black female cast member in season six. Like many of Doumanian's cast, she was fired mid-season.|
|Jim Downey||9||Downey was hired as one of many writers-turned-feature players in season five. Even though he left the cast after the season, Downey returned to the show as a writer in the mid-1980s and has remained with it.|
|Matthew Laurance||10||Laurance was hired as a feature player during the sixth season and, like many of the cast, was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Alan Zweibel||11||Zweibel was a writer for the show before joining the cast during season 5, and left after the season finale.|
|Gilbert Gottfried||12||Gottfried joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Michael O'Donoghue||12||O'Donoghue was one of the original "Not Ready for Primetime Players," but was dropped after a few episodes. He remained with the show as a writer and occasional on-screen performer.|
|Ann Risley||12||Risley joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Charles Rocket||12||Rocket joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul after dropping an f-bomb on live television.|
|Damon Wayans||12||Wayans was hired for season 11 as a featured player. He was fired mid-season for improvising on the air. Wayans returned as a guest to perform stand-up comedy on season 11's last episode and hosted SNL in 1995.|
|Beth Cahill||13||Cahill joined the show during season 17 as an off-and-on featured player. She did not return the following season, as she was fired along with cast mate Siobhan Fallon.|
|Denny Dillon||13||Dillon joined the cast for season six and was let go after the final episode of the season as part of the cast overhaul. She auditioned for the show's first season, but did not make the cut.|
|Gail Matthius||13||Matthius joined the cast for season six and was let go after the season ended.|
|Paul Shaffer||13||Shaffer joined the cast during season five after being a part of the show's house band; he left after the season's end. He hosted SNL in 1987, making him the only member of the house band to do so.|
|Janeane Garofalo||14||Garofalo joined the cast during season 20, but quit mid-season due to creative differences.|
|Michaela Watkins||15||Watkins joined the show on the first episode after the 2008 United States presidential election, then was let go before the start of season 35.|
|Peter Aykroyd||16||Aykroyd joined the show midway through season seven, but left at the end of the season, after only 16 episodes.|
Youngest cast members
The following is a list of the youngest people to join the show
|Performer||Age when joined show||Tenure|
|Anthony Michael Hall||17 years old||1985–1986|
|Eddie Murphy||19 years old||1980–1984|
|Robert Downey, Jr.||20 years old||1985–1986|
|Abby Elliott||21 years, 5 months||2008–2012|
|Julia Louis-Dreyfus||21 years, 8 months||1982–1985|
|Sarah Silverman||22 years, 9 months||1993–1994|
|Jay Pharoah||22 years, 11 months||2010–present|
Oldest cast members
The following is a list of the oldest people to join the show.
|Performer||Age when joined show||Tenure|
|George Coe||46 years, 155 days||1975|
|Michael McKean||46 years, 147 days||1994–1995|
|Darrell Hammond||39 years old||1995–2009|
|Garrett Morris||38 years, 8 months||1975–1980|
|Phil Hartman||38 years, 1 month||1986–1994|
|Mike O'Brien||37 years old||2013–present|
|Michaela Watkins||36 years, 11 months||2008–2009|
|Christopher Guest||36 years, 8 months||1984–1985|
|Billy Crystal||36 years, 7 months||1984–1985|
|Colin Quinn||36 years, 4 months||1995–2000|
Darrell Hammond is currently the oldest cast member who left at 53 years old during his final season on the show.
Both cast and hosts
As of May 2014, there have been 30 performers who have hosted SNL who, at one point in their careers, were either a repertory or featured member of the SNL cast. The following performers have hosted SNL either before, during, or after their tenure as a member of the SNL cast.
|First hosted||Last hosted|
|Dan Aykroyd||1||May 17, 2003|
|Dana Carvey||4||October 22, 1994||February 5, 2011|
|Chevy Chase||8||February 18, 1978||February 15, 1997|
|Billy Crystal||2||March 17, 1984||May 12, 1984|
|Robert Downey, Jr.||1||November 16, 1996|
|Jimmy Fallon||2||December 17, 2011||December 21, 2013|
|Chris Farley||1||October 25, 1997|
|Will Ferrell||3||May 14, 2005||May 12, 2012|
|Tina Fey||4||February 23, 2008||September 28, 2013|
|Phil Hartman||2||March 23, 1996||November 23, 1996|
|Julia Louis-Dreyfus||2||May 13, 2006||March 17, 2007|
|Jon Lovitz||1||November 8, 1997|
|Norm Macdonald||1||October 23, 1999|
|Michael McKean||1||November 3, 1984|
|Tracy Morgan||1||March 14, 2009|
|Eddie Murphy||2||December 11, 1982||December 15, 1984|
|Bill Murray||5||March 7, 1981||February 20, 1999|
|Mike Myers||1||March 22, 1997|
|Don Novello||2||January 14, 1984||May 12, 1984|
|Amy Poehler||1||September 25, 2010|
|Chris Rock||1||November 2, 1996|
|Maya Rudolph||1||February 18, 2012|
|Paul Shaffer||1||January 31, 1987|
|Andy Samberg||1||May 17, 2014|
|Molly Shannon||1||May 12, 2007|
|Martin Short||3||December 6, 1986||December 15, 2012|
|David Spade||2||November 7, 1998||March 12, 2005|
|Ben Stiller||2||October 24, 1998||October 8, 2011|
|Damon Wayans||1||April 8, 1995|
|Kristen Wiig||1||May 11, 2013|
President of the United States impressionists
Impersonating the incumbent President of the United States is considered "about as high of an honor that can be bestowed upon a cast member." The following is a list of people who have impersonated the sitting President.
Darrell Hammond had the longest tenure as a President impersonator, with Bill Clinton from 1995–2001 and time as George W. Bush during 2003. Hammond also impersonated Ronald Reagan in an 2009 episode hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Michael McKean portrayed Bill Clinton during a brief period after Phil Hartman's departure. There was also a sketch featuring Chris Farley, David Spade, Chris Elliott, Adam Sandler, and Tim Meadows auditioning for the role of Clinton. There was also a gag in a 2001 sketch with Tracy Morgan filling in for Will Ferrell as George W. Bush.
"Saturday Night Live Curse" (deceased former cast members)
Although SNL is best known as the launchpad for many successful careers, eight former cast members have died prematurely. This has given rise to a superstition known as the "Saturday Night Live Curse".
- John Belushi and Chris Farley died of a drug overdose at the age of 33 from a "speedball"—an injection of cocaine and heroin. Belushi's death led to the conviction of Cathy Smith for administering the fatal injection. Nearly four years before Belushi's death, SNL aired a short sketch titled Don't Look Back in Anger featuring an elderly Belushi as the last living of the "not ready for prime time" cast members. Farley's death occurred nearly two months after he came back to host SNL, which turned out to be his final television appearance.
Yep, they all thought I'd be the first to go. I was one of those live-fast, die-young, leave-a-good-looking-corpse types, you know?—John Belushi
- Gilda Radner died on May 20, 1989 (42) from ovarian cancer. Radner was originally scheduled to host the season 13 finale, a first for a former female cast member. However, SNL was canceled due to a Writer's Guild of America strike. Radner's health worsened the following year. Moments before the season 14 finale, news came of Radner's death. Steve Martin delivered his visibly shaken monologue, followed by the sketch called "Dancing in the Dark" that he and Radner had performed on an episode he hosted in 1978, and a musical tribute to Radner performed by her ex-husband, G. E. Smith, and the SNL Band.
- Season 11's Danitra Vance died on August 21, 1994 (40), three years after her breast cancer was put in remission.
- Michael O'Donoghue died on November 8, 1994 (54) of a cerebral hemorrhage after suffering from severe chronic migraine headaches for most of his life. Bill Murray honored O'Donoghue's memory in an appearance on the season 20 episode (hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker with musical guest R.E.M.) by replaying O'Donoghue's sketch, "Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bedtime Stories: The Soiled Kimono" from December 1977.
- Phil Hartman was killed by his wife on May 28, 1998 (49) while he slept in his Encino, California home. Before committing the act, Brynn had allegedly consumed a combination of cocaine, alcohol, and the antidepressant drug Zoloft, and later killed herself.
- Charles Rocket was found dead on October 7, 2005 (56) in his Canterbury, Connecticut backyard. Local police concluded that his death was a suicide; Rocket had allegedly taken his own life by slashing his throat with a box cutter.
- Tom Davis died on July 19, 2012 (59), after suffering throat and neck cancer during the final three years of his life.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Not Ready For Prime Time Players.|
- "'SNL' pink slips". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
- Graham, Mark. "The Michaela Watkins Club: 21 Other SNL Cast Members Who Only Lasted a Season (or Less) – Vulture". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- Specifically, 21 May 1977, 19 Nov 1977, 10 Dec 1977, 22 Apr 1978, and 10 Oct 1981.
- "SNL Presidents". Movieline.com. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- "Saturday Night Live Curse?". Who2?. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
- "The SNL Curse". Saturday-Night-Live.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
- Worek, Steven. "Live From Up There". SNLRA.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2006. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
- "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, 77r: Steve Martin / The Blues Brothers, Dancing in the Dark".