'Saturday Night Live': All 145 Cast Members Ranked

Our insanely ambitious, ruthlessly exhaustive ranking of every 'SNL' player ever

1. John Belushi
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Edie Baskin109/109

1. John Belushi

Era: 1975-1979

Nobody embodied the highs and lows of Saturday Night Live like Belushi. He was the first rock & roll star of comedy — a touch of John Lennon soul behind all that Keith Richards pirate bravado. All the extremes were there in his weird physique — a wrestler's body with a dancer's feet, a palooka face with a showgirl's eyelashes. He was the first to make a cocaine joke on SNL (sixth episode — Beethoven takes a hit from the snuffbox and turns into Ray Charles), as well as the first to make the host (Buck Henry) gush blood after accidentally slashing him in the head with his samurai sword. There was always something boyishly vulnerable in his madness, whether he was doing the slow burn (Captain Kirk, George Wallace) or exploding (his horrifying Sam Peckinpah). Belushi was the "live" in Saturday Night Live, the one who made the show happen on the edge. We should have gotten a lot more years with him than we did. But no.

Greatest hit: "Samurai Hitman," where Belushi proves he doesn't need words — just a robe and a sword — to turn a one-joke premise into a savage comic ballet.

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