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‘Saturday Night Live’: See Rare Backstage Photos From 40 Year History

Intimate shots of everyone from Steve Martin to Sarah Palin

Steve Martin

Edie Baskin

If the incredible ratings for Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary special weren't proof enough that the show remains a vital satirical and cultural force, just check out the shockwaves of anger that recently greeted the show when they aired a skit about a sweet, young woman joining ISIS. If the show was truly "Saturday Night Dead," as its critics have been saying for years, they wouldn't have had the chops (or the balls) to pull off such a hysterical bit. It's one of many great moments in the show's history, and the new coffee table book Saturday Night Live: The Book is an amazing behind-the-scenes look at the whole run. The 500-page book goes through all 40 seasons, capturing nearly every great character and showing how the team puts the whole thing together. Here's a preview. 


Mary Ellen Matthews

The Makeup Lab

The makeup lab's storage room is home to a vast collection of head casts for each current Not-Ready-for-Primetime player, as well as frequent hosts and special guests. (2009)

Eddie Murphy


Mark Mullen

James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party

"Haaaiiii! Too hot in the hot tub! Burn myself!" Eddie Murphy turns it loose in 'James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party." (1983)

Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze


Edie Baskin

Chippendales Audition

"Barney, we all agreed that your dancing was great. I guess, in the end, we all thought that Adrian's body was much, much better than yours." This Chippendales audition sketch, featuring Patrick Swayze and new featured player Chris Farley, was the comedian's first true standout moment in the show. (1990)

Chevy Chase

Edie Baskin

Chevy Chase Selling Floor Wax

Chevy Chase (with Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner), touting the merits of Shimmer Non-Dairy Floor Wax. This photo was taken during dress rehearsal — for the live show, Shimmer had its "real" label affixed. (1976)

Will Ferrell

Dana Edleson

Will Ferrell Transforms Into Dubya

Will Ferrell, being made up as George W. Bush, reviews dialogue for his monologue with Wally Feresten. (Passing behind Ferrell is writer Colin Jost.) (2012)

Sarah Palin, Alec Baldwin and Lorne Michaels

Dana Edleson

Sarah Palin With Alec Baldwin and Lorne Michaels

Vice-Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin backstage with Alec Baldwin and Lorne Michaels, while Tina Fey can be seen playing Palin on the monitor. (2008)

Seth Myers and Amy Poehler

Mary Ellen Matthews

Seth Myers and Amy Poehler

During the commercial break before "Weekend Update," Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler review cue cards under the bleachers with Wally Feresten. (2007)

Bil Hader

Dana Edleson

Stefon’s Final Show

On Bill Hader's farewell show, Stefon ditches Anderson Cooper at the altar and runs off with his true love, Seth Meyers. (2013)