Chevy Chase Was the First Comedian to Leave ‘Saturday Night Live’: Here’s Why

by Jennifer Shea

Comedian Chevy Chase became the first cast member to leave “Saturday Night Live” in 1976, a year after the sketch comedy show launched.

Chase rocketed to fame for his role as the “Weekend Update” anchor, during which time he uttered the immortal line, “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.”

For a biography released in 2007, “I’m Chevy Chase and You’re Not,” by Rena Fruchter, Chase opened up about his reasons for leaving the show as well as his difficult childhood. The “Today” show spoke to Fruchter and Chase in 2007 about her biography.

Chevy Chase Left “SNL” for Love, Not Money

By 1976, Chase had fallen in love with a California girl named Jacqueline Carlin. But the woman, an actress, was wedded to California.

“I left for a girl that I was in love with,” Chase said. “It had nothing to with lucrative film deals awaiting me. I didn’t make a movie for three years. It was just a lot of bunk… I was very much in love with a girl who just would not leave California.”

So Chase left New York for California, and he and Carlin got married in 1976. However, four years after that, they got divorced.

Chase has three daughters with his current wife, Jayni, with whom he shares similar parenting philosophies. And that’s fortunate because Chase has strong opinions about how to raise children right.

Chase Had an Abusive Childhood

While Chase joked with the “Today” show about throwing stones at his kids, in all seriousness, they enjoyed a very different childhood than he had.

Fruchter’s biography recounts how Chase was frequently locked in his room, slapped and hit with a hairbrush.

“I had a very unstable mother, who also had a very unstable childhood,” Chase said. But “I was not a dummy. I was able to figure out, even as a kid, what some of the root causes of my mother’s and my stepfather’s issues were.”

Chase continued, “I don’t believe in hitting a child at all. It just causes fear, and it doesn’t discipline them at all in any fashion. You discipline by example, and you love them.”

“My wife and I are not in any way corporal, except with each other,” Chase added with a straight face.