At a late-night party, one of many in comedian John Belushi's "live fast, die young, leave a good lookin' corpse" lifestyle, singer and drug-guru Cathy Smith prepared to inject Belushi with eleven doses of speedball (combined cocaine and heroin) for the ride of his life. However, fellow comedian Robin Williams finally announced he could not stand how "creeped out" he felt about Smith, whom he described in an interview as a "lowlife." Rather than leaving as actor Robert De Niro had done, Williams began to voice his disapproval in the same loud and energetic voice used in his standup routines. Smith countered in a shrill argument, and Belushi, half-doped, called out that he was through. The shouting was bringing him down more than the drugs could have thrilled him, so he marched out and into the night.
After his ordeal on March 5, Belushi decided to tone down his crazy lifestyle. Shortly thereafter, he appeared on SCTV with Dave Thomas and John Candy, the latter of whom shared struggles and became confidants to keep one another in physical health. Belushi informally joined Narcotics Anonymous, an organization he would hop into and out of over the next decade before making a decision to stay. Cocaine would be a constant distraction over the course of his life, and he would often use it to give him the stamina for long sessions of filming and writing. His career would shift away from TV and firmly into movies over the 1980s, starring in films such as Ghostbusters and Spies Like Us with Dan Ackroyd. As his movie career began to fade in the early '90s, Belushi thought of returning to TV with a madcap sitcom with his musician brother, Jim, but a casual discussion over the film Animal House gave him a new path into politics. During the ending of the film, John's character "Bluto" Blutarsky is described as becoming a US Senator, and Belushi famously said, "I could do that."
His first few years in politics were full of fumbles, balancing his popularity with his lack of seriousness, but Belushi would be triumphant when he narrowly defeated Sonny Bono for US Representative in California's 44th District in 1995. From there, Belushi would do well under the Clinton administration, working to promote anti-drug campaigns and funding for arts. He decided to retire from politics after his term, claiming there wasn't “enough limelight and too many comedians" and returned to television in the highly acclaimed West Wing as the somewhat maniacal Senator Blutarsky. His triumphant return to movies in the universally applauded Blues Brothers 2000 made way for numerous appearances in films by Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers.
On his 60th birthday in 2009, Belushi was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in comedy. He and his wife of thirty-six years, Judy Jacklin, continue to write and produce while John has slowed down his acting schedule. In an interview, he said that he was hoping to outlive all of his SNL castmates (to which Chevy Chase quipped, “Only if it kills me”) as was joked about in the famous “Don't Look Back In Anger” short film by Tom Schiller.
In reality, Belushi died from an overdose of speedball administered by Cathy Smith. Smith would plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and serve 15 months after a National Inquirer interview headlined, "I killed John Belushi. I didn't mean to, but I am responsible." Belushi's spot on SCTV was tearfully canceled, and Dan Ackroyd presented the the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 54th Academy Awards alone rather than fill his place with another presenter. His tombstone at Abel's Hill Cemetery on Martha's Vineyard reads, "I may be gone but Rock and Roll lives on," while a marker on his mother's grave in Illinois remembers him with, "He Gave Us Laughter."