Most of the attention on Vanity Fair’s comedy issue deservedly focused on the magazine’s oral history of Freaks and Geeks. Among the unsung stories of the issue, on newsstands now with previews available to read online, is the genesis of The Blues Brothers. The Dan Aykroyd side project turned Saturday Night Live skit became one of the most loved comedies of the era, but John Belushi’s spiraling cocaine abuse and the bill for the movie’s action sequences almost made the project impossible.
Excerpts from Ned Zeman’s article are available on VF’s website but it’s worth picking up the magazine for the whole story. At the time Belushi was a superstar in Chicago, where The Blues Brothers was being filmed. Zeman wrote of how everyone in the city wanted to tell their friends how they did a line with Bluto Blutarsky:
A trip to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, was “like being with Mussolini in Rome,” director John Landis tells Zeman. Belushi, having entered one of the stadium’s crowded bathrooms, smiled and shouted, “O.K., stand back!” Everyone retreated from the urinals. Belushi did his business and then, zipping his fly and beaming, said, “O.K., back you go!” Glazer recalls, “John would literally hail police cars like taxis. The cops would say, ‘Hey, Belushi!’ Then we’d fall into the backseat and the cops would drive us home.”