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 October 2014, the show has featured 141 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. The chart also shows whether the cast member has served as a guest 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.
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||Hired after a cast overhaul, he is the last cast member hired in the 1990s to leave the show, the oldest cast member to leave the show (age 53 when he left the show), and the longest-active cast member. In 2014, Hammond returned to the show where he replaced Don Pardo as the show's announcer after Pardo's death.|
|Seth Meyers||13||In 2013, his tenure on Weekend Update reached its eighth year, making him the longest-serving Weekend Update anchor (breaking the records held by Dennis Miller and Tina Fey). He left the show to take over hosting duties for Late Night.|
|Al Franken||12||Hired as a writer in the beginning of the series, 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 1995.|
|Kenan Thompson||12||He holds the records of both the longest-running cast member born after the show's premiere in 1975 and the longest-active African-American cast member.|
|Fred Armisen||11||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).|
|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.|
|Jason Sudeikis||9||He joined towards the end of season 30, after having been a writer for the show in the previous season.|
|Kevin Nealon||9||He served as Weekend Update anchor for his sixth through eighth seasons, then gave up the position in his ninth.|
|Phil Hartman||8||Also hosted the show twice in 1996.|
|Chris Parnell||8||He 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 again due to budget cuts.|
|Horatio Sanz||8||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 also let go due to budget cuts.|
|Maya Rudolph||8||She 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 had ended.|
|Amy Poehler||8||She served as co-anchor of Weekend Update with Tina Fey (2004–06) and with Meyers (2006–08). She left the series in late-2008 to begin production on Parks and Recreation.|
|Will Forte||8||He left the series after the release of MacGruber.|
|Bill Hader||8||Hader left at the end of season 38, alongside Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis.|
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, she 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||Hired by Dick Ebersol to be a featured player, she appeared in a few sketches at dress rehearsal in what would be the final episode of 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||She also was hired as part of Ebersol's temporary season six cast following the termination of Jean Doumanian, and 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||Hired as an on-and-off featured player for season 11, he was only credited with appearing in three episodes throughout the season.|
|Morwenna Banks||4||She 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, he 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. He 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||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||Hired as a featured cast member for season six, he was fired along with many of Doumanian's cast.|
|George Coe||8||He 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||She 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||He was hired as one of many writers-turned-feature players in season five, and though he left the cast after the season, he returned to the show as a writer in the mid-1980s and has remained with it.|
|Matthew Laurance||10||Hired as a feature player during season six, he was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Alan Zweibel||11||A writer for the show before joining the cast in season five, he left after the season finale.|
|Gilbert Gottfried||12||He joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Michael O'Donoghue||12||One of the original "Not Ready for Primetime Players", he was dropped after a few episodes. He remained with the show as a writer and occasional on-screen performer.|
|Ann Risley||12||She joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul.|
|Charles Rocket||12||He joined the cast for season six and was fired as part of the mid-season overhaul, after having dropped an f-bomb one episode prior.|
|Damon Wayans||12||Hired for season 11 as a featured player, he was fired mid-season for improvising on the air. He returned as a guest to perform stand-up comedy on season 11's last episode and hosted SNL in 1995.|
|Beth Cahill||13||She 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||She joined the cast for season six and was let go after the finale as part of the cast overhaul. She auditioned for the show's first season, but did not make the cut.|
|Gail Matthius||13||She joined the cast for season six and was let go after the season ended.|
|Paul Shaffer||13||After being the band's pianist for the first five seasons, he joined the cast during season five, but left after the finale. He hosted SNL in 1987, making him the only member of the house band to do so.|
|Janeane Garofalo||14||She joined the cast during season 20, but quit mid-season due to creative differences.|
|Michaela Watkins||15||She 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||He joined the show midway through season five, 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, 5 months||1985–1986|
|Pete Davidson||20 years, 10 months||2014–present|
|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|
|Leslie Jones||47 years, 1 month||2014–present|
|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||2013–2014|
|Michaela Watkins||36 years, 11 months||2008–2009|
|Christopher Guest||36 years, 8 months||1984–1985|
|Billy Crystal||36 years, 7 months||1984–1985|
Darrell Hammond is the oldest cast member, who left at 53 years old during his final season on the show.
Both cast and hosts
As of October 2014, there are 32 SNL hosts 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|
|Bill Hader||1||October 11, 2014|
|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||2||November 2, 1996||November 1, 2014|
|Maya Rudolph||1||February 18, 2012|
|Andy Samberg||1||May 17, 2014|
|Paul Shaffer||1||January 31, 1987|
|Molly Shannon||1||May 12, 2007|
|Martin Short||3||December 6, 1986||December 15, 2012|
|Sarah Silverman||1||October 4, 2014|
|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 U.S. president impersonator, with Bill Clinton from 1995 to 2001, and as George W. Bush during 2003. Hammond also impersonated Richard Nixon in season 34, episode 12.
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.
Another noteworthy presidential portrayal was that of Dan Aykroyd as former president Richard Nixon from 1975 to 1979.
Jim Carrey, while never having been an SNL cast member, portrayed Ronald Reagan in Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion of SNL Presidents (which reunited Chase as Ford, Aykroyd as Carter, Carvey as H. W. Bush, Hammond as Clinton, Ferrell as W. Bush, and Armisen as Obama), as two of the actors who previously portrayed Reagan had died since and the other three had declined to appear in the reunion. While Carrey was never an SNL cast member, he did audition to be a cast member for the 1980–1981 season, and while not selected for the position, he did host the show in May 1996, January 2011 and October 2014.
Although SNL is best known as the launchpad for many successful careers, nine former cast members (out of 143 total) have died younger than the age of sixty. This has given rise to a superstition known as the "Saturday Night Live Curse".
|Cast member||Age||Date of death||Notes|
|Belushi, JohnJohn Belushi||33||March 5, 1982||A drug overdose from a speedball injection (cocaine and heroin).
His death led to the conviction of Cathy Smith for administering the fatal injection.
|Radner, GildaGilda Radner||42||May 20, 1989||Ovarian cancer.
She 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 broke of Radner's death. Steve Martin delivered his visibly shaken monologue by replaying the sketch "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.
|Vance, DanitraDanitra Vance||40||August 21, 1994||Breast cancer – although it had been put in remission three years earlier.|
|Michael O'Donoghue||54||November 8, 1994||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 his sketch "Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bedtime Stories: The Soiled Kimono" from 1977.
|Farley, ChrisChris Farley||33||December 18, 1997||A drug overdose from a speedball.
His death occurred nearly two months after he came back to host SNL, which turned out to be his final television appearance.
|Hartman, PhilPhil Hartman||49||May 28, 1998||Killed by his wife 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. During the 25th anniversary special in 1999, several of Hartman's SNL peers honored his memory by replaying his sketch "Love is a Dream" from 1988.
|Rocket, CharlesCharles Rocket||56||October 7, 2005||Found dead 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.|
|Davis, TomTom Davis||59||July 19, 2012||Head and neck cancer.|
|Hooks, JanJan Hooks||57||October 9, 2014||Died after a long illness, believed to have been cancer.|
|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.
- "Is There A 'Saturday Night Live' Curse?".[dead link]
- Caroline Donnelly. "7 Tragic SNL Deaths".
- Robert Rorke. "9 'SNL' stars we lost too soon".
- "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, 77r: Steve Martin / The Blues Brothers, Dancing in the Dark".