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John Belushi’s Widow Judith Recalls Her 'Nightmare' Writing for 'SNL'

John Belushi’s Widow Judith Recalls Her ‘Nightmare’ Writing for ‘SNL’

It has kickstarted the career of countless comedians, but at quite the price, even for its writers. Judith Belushi Pisano, the widow of actor John Belushi, had a tenure as a writer on SNL and faced one frustration after another, to the point that she could endure just under a month before parting ways.

While John Belushi is known for his presence on Saturday Night Live and the formation of the Blues Brothers alongside Dan Aykroyd, Judith was heavily responsible for nurturing her husband’s legacy following his death in ’82. Judith herself passed away on Friday at the age of 76, and following her passing, stories have emerged of her equally remarkable life.
Judith Belushi Pisano devotedly safeguarded her husband’s legacy after his death / Instagram

Judith sat down for an interview with Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live and spoke of her decision to “do a little writing” for SNL. The stars aligned in 1980 when executive producer Dick Ebersol filled the void left first by Lorne Michaels and then by Jean Doumanian.

Judith saw this as a chance to find a place for herself in the sketch comedy series, much to the dismay of her husband, who asked, “Why would you ever want to write for Saturday Night Live?”

“I had been around it so much, and sometimes even participated — giving somebody a line or something,” Judith shared with the outlet, a similar answer to the one she gave John. Judith became known for producing several Blues Brothers-related projects, but she did work behind the scenes on SNL, though this line of work would usually be done in anonymity.
Judith Belushi Pisano ultimately had an unpleasant time writing for SNL / Instagram

Pisano’s background made her well-suited to managing the finer details of a show like SNL. She had worked as a radio producer and had uncredited roles in 1978’s Animal House and 1980’s The Blues Brothers. Belushi documentary writer and director R.J. Cutler would call Judith “fearless,” adding, “Collaborating with Judy was one of the great experiences of my career, as knowing her stimulated your mind, lifted your spirit and filled your heart.”

However, there was only so much this force of nature could endure when it came to SNL.

Ebersol and Michael O’Donoghue emitted an energy that was positively draining to be around, with Judith saying of Ebersol in particular, “He didn’t want to be there, and he was really miserable about it.” Then there was the uphill battle to get her extensive Raging Bull sketch up off the ground, which featured a lot of Judith’s creative vision alongside Mitch Glazer. However, O’Donoghue rejected it.

Judith revealed, “We were like an hour late handing it in, so Michael refused to look at it. It was just like school.”

The sixth season started off not with a whimper rather than a bang, since just one show made it up before the writer’s strike—sound familiar? That one, which Judith worked extensively on, was also off-color, featuring no guest host and an opening monologue starring Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra denouncing the people of Japan and encouraging Americans to buy American cars.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, from left: John Belushi, Gilda Radner, 1970s, (1975-). ph: Christopher Little / TV Guide /© NBC /Courtesy Everett Collection

When all was said and done and Judith stepped away from SNL for good, she said of the experience, “I thought it would be interesting. But I really didn’t like it.”

Judith also endured pains while preserving Belushi’s legacy, including his infidelities and addiction battles. But that line of work was always her greatest passion, and she helped organize a Blues Brothers-themed convention at the Old Joliet Prison. When announcing Judith’s passing through Belushi’s Instagram post, the tribute statement assured, “As we bid farewell, we pledge to continue her work, ensuring that John’s legacy and The Blues Brothers will never fade,” adding, “There was no one like her. Judy made everyone feel loved. She was nonjudgmental, light, funny, and pure. You could be truly yourself around her — that alone was a gift. The Belushi and Pisano families will carry your love in their hearts forever.”

Source: particle news