Childhood & Early Life
Farley was born on February 15, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He grew up in Maple Bluff.
Chris Farley was born to Irish-Americans, Thomas Farley Sr. and Mary Anne. His father owned an oil company, while his mother was a housewife.
He had four siblings – Tom Jr., Kevin, John, and Barbara.
Farley's family is Roman Catholic and of Irish descent.
Many of his summers were spent as a camper and counselor at ‘Red Arrow Camp,’ near Minocqua, Wisconsin.
He attended the ‘Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart’ among other Catholic schools.
He enrolled at ‘Marquette University’ and graduated with a degree in communications and theater in 1986.
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The first job he did after the completion of his college degree was at the ‘Scotch Oil Company’ where he worked with his father.
His professional stage career started at Chicago’s ‘ImprovOlympic’ (iO) theatre where he performed comedies with the theatre’s improvisation troupe.
Eventually, he got an opportunity to perform at Chicago’s ‘Second City Theatre’ as part of their touring group. His goofy performances earned him recognition and he was soon promoted to the main stage.
During a stage performance, he caught the eye of Lorne Michaels, the producer of NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,’ who decided to cast him for the 1990-91 season of the show.
He made his television debut along with Chris Rock in the 1990-91 season of ‘Saturday Night Live’ where he collaborated with other actors like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. They appeared together quite often, earning the name ‘Bad Boys of SNL.’
In the sketch ‘The Chris Farley Show’ from ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he portrayed a parody of himself wherein he conducted meaningless interviews of various celebrities, often asking highly irrelevant questions.
As a performer on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he personified several real-life celebrities like Rudy Giuliani, Norman Schwarzkopf, Roger Ebert, and Hank Williams. His contract with ‘NBC’ ended in 1995.
He made his film debut in 1992 with the comedy ‘Wayne’s World’ in which he played the role of a security guard. The film was based on a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch of the same name.
In 1993, he starred in ‘Coneheads,’ which was also based on ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketches. The movie got mostly negative reviews with many critics calling it uninspiring and dismal.
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The sequel to ‘Wayne’s World,’ titled ‘Wayne's World 2’ was released in 1993. Farley played the character of Milton in the movie which found moderate success.
He portrayed Officer Wilson in the comedy film ‘Airheads’ which was released in 1994. The movie revolved around the adventures of a band of unsuccessful musicians. The film gained a cult following, even though it did not do well at the box office.
In 1995, he acted in Lorne Michaels’s ‘Tommy Boy’ along with his friend David Spade. Farley played an emotionally immature man who embarks on a journey towards knowledge and maturity.
He appeared again with David Spade in ‘Black Sheep’ (1996), a comedy film revolving around the silly antics of a politician’s brother. Farley’s real life brothers also played small roles in the movie.
His 1997 movie ‘Beverly Hills Ninja’ revolves around the life of a white orphan boy, who is raised by a group of ninjas. The film was released on January 17, 1997, 11 months before his death.
He played his last lead role in ‘Almost Heroes,’ a 1998 adventure comedy film which was released months after his death.
He also appeared in a music video for the song ‘Soul to Squeeze’ by the popular American rock band ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers.’
Personal Life & Legacy
He led a wild and undisciplined life. He regularly hired prostitutes and was notorious for his gluttony and heavy drinking problems. He also had a history of drug abuse.
He died of a drug overdose in 1997 at the age of 33.
An authorized biography of Farley, ‘The Chris Farley Show,’ was written by Tanner Colby and Farley’s brother Tom Jr.
Both he and his idol John Belushi died under eerily similar circumstances – an overdose of drug at the age of 33.
Two of his brothers are also actors.
He had been in rehab many times due to his heavy drinking problems.
He was originally cast to play the title role in ‘Shrek’ (2001) and even recorded the dialogues. However, after his untimely death, the role was given to fellow ‘Saturday Night Live’ (1975) performer, Mike Myers.