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Autopsy Is Conducted on Comedian Chris Farley But Results Won’t Be Announced Until Toxicology

December 19, 1997

Autopsy Is Conducted on Comedian Chris Farley But Results Won’t Be Announced Until Toxicology Tests Are CompletedBy MARIO FOX

CHICAGO (AP) _ Growing up in nearby Wisconsin, Chris Farley idolized comic John Belushi.

Then Farley managed to follow almost exactly in the career footsteps of his idol, joining Chicago’s Second City improvisational troupe, cast on NBC-TV’s ``Saturday Night Live″ and starring in films.

Inspired by Belushi, Farley’s comic specialty was sweaty, tightly wound characters who erupted in vein-popping frenzies. He lived big like Belushi, too, overeating and by many accounts abusing drugs and alcohol.

On Thursday, Farley died in Belushi’s hometown, more than 15 1/2 years after Belushi’s life ended in a drug overdose. Like his idol, Farley was 33.

Farley’s body, clad in pajamas, was found Thursday by his brother in the actor’s 60th-floor apartment of the John Hancock Building along a stretch of Michigan Avenue called the Magnificent Mile.

There was no sign of foul play, police said.

An autopsy was conducted today, but the results were not announced pending the completion of toxicology tests, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. The office had no further comment.

Police said their initial sweep of the apartment found no drugs. The search, however, was not complete, said Sgt. Robert Delaney.

Charna Halpern, a close friend and director of the Improv Olympic theater school in Chicago where Farley studied during the 1980s, said she was aware he used drugs and alcohol.

``Was it a problem, was it recreational? I don’t know. He loved to drink,″ she said. ``I don’t think he felt in control.″

She last saw Farley at a Second City Christmas party on Monday. ``He was fine. ... He was having a ball,″ she said.

In an Us magazine article this year titled ``Chris Farley: On the Edge of Disaster,″ Farley’s manager Marc Gurvitz said he was worried about the comic, even though he felt his long battle with booze and drugs was under control.

``He’s got a big career and a great life ahead of him,″ Gurvitz told the magazine. ``But will he go the route of John Candy if he’s not careful? Of course he will.″ Candy, another comedian, died of a heart attack in 1994 at age 43.

And in a recent interview with Steppin’ Out magazine, Farley’s frequent co-star David Spade also expressed concern for the 290-pound, size-54 comic.

``I mean, the fact that he cut out drugs and alcohol is the biggest thing,″ Spade said. ``But he’s my friend, and I’m just concerned. ... He needs to watch his weight, he drinks too much coffee, he smokes.″

On NBC’s ``Saturday Night Live,″ which he left in 1995, Farley’s characters included the motivational speaker Matt Foley, who ended his speeches by smashing through the furniture in a froth, his blond hair mussed and his garish plaid sports jacket bursting at the seams.

``He made a lot of money making fun of me,″ said Joel Maturi, Farley’s football coach at Edgewood High in Madison, Wis.

``He became famous and wealthy because of his weight ... (and) his hyperness, and I’m sure that led to some of his problems with alcohol and drugs,″ Maturi said.

In another recurring ``SNL″ skit, Farley downed beers and bratwurst as a fan of Chicago’s football team, ``Da Bears.″ He also played a flabby, barechested Chippendales dancer, his jiggling gut spilling over his waistband.

``I loved that Chippendales routine,″ said fan Tonia Leofanti, 22, of Chicago. ``He was the first guy to really make me laugh. I hope he will be remembered for his comedy.″

Farley also did an impersonation of Newt Gingrich on the floor of Congress in 1995, with Gingrich himself looking on.

Gingrich in a statement offered condolences to Farley’s family and friends.

``Two years ago, he gave members of Congress a particularly memorable performance. He brought us the same laughter and happiness as he did to his millions of fans,″ the House speaker said.

In the movies ``Tommy Boy,″ ``Beverly Hills Ninja″ and ``Black Sheep,″ Farley played a lovable, bumbling slob. His last film _ ``Almost Heroes,″ about two bumbling explorers trying to compete with Lewis and Clark _ is scheduled to be released next year by Warner Bros.

``Although I love this kind of comedy, sometimes I feel trapped by always having to be the most outrageous guy in the room,″ Farley said in 1996. ``In particular, I’m working on trying not to be that guy in my private life.″

Farley, who was born Feb. 15, 1964, in Madison, Wis., was a 1986 graduate of Marquette University. He performed with the Second City comedy troupe before joining the ``SNL″ cast for the 1990 season and remained until 1995.

Former ``SNL″ comic Chris Rock said Farley ``was one of my best friends and one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known. I love him and I’m going to miss him.″

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