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Hartman and Dan Aykroyd, another SNL alum who costarred with Hartman in the movies "Coneheads" and "Sgt. Bilko"

Hartman joins 'SNL' alums who met tragic end

ATLANTA (CNN) -- When Phil Hartman joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1986, he hoped to launch his already-burgeoning comedy career. After all, numerous well-known comics and actors got their start on "SNL."

Hartman achieved the success he wanted, but he also joined a smaller class of "SNL" alums -- those who met a tragic end.

Gilda Radner was the first cast member to be named to the first season of "Saturday Night Live" in 1975. She played characters like Roseanne Roseannadana, and based a popular skit on the familiar refrain "It's always something." After leaving the show in 1980, she did a one-woman show on Broadway that became the 1980 film "Gilda Live." She also appeared in "The Woman in Red" and other movies. She died in 1989 of ovarian cancer at the age of 42.

John Belushi joined Radner in the show's first season and went on to become one of the most famous comedians of his time. His skits on "SNL" included the short-order cook who constantly spouted "chizzburger, chizzburger," and the Samurai Warrior who would wield his sword while grunting and muttering in ersatz Japanese. He found fame on the silver screen, as well, with films like "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "The Blue Brothers." But all the glory had a price for Belushi. His body was found in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in 1982; addicted to drugs, he had died of a cocaine and heroin overdose at the age of 33.

Farley as a devoted Chicago Bears football fan in one of his many well-known SNL sketches

Chris Farley's recent death echoed that of Belushi, his idol. Farley won acclaim for his high-strung "SNL" skits from 1990 to 1995. Some of his notable characters include Matt Foley, the motivational speaker who would wind up his speeches in a froth, and the flabby Chippendale dancer. He developed a growing cult of fans with movies like "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep." But his fame was cut short by his death in December 1997 of accidental overdose on morphine and cocaine. Like Belushi, he was 33.

Michael O'Donoghue was one of the original writers at "SNL," and the creator of some of its funniest black comedy sketches. He also occasionally appeared on camera, on sketches like "Mr. Mike's Least Loved Bedtime Stories." His 1979 television special "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was dropped because of censorship concerns and became a theatrical film instead. O'Donoghue died in November 1994 of a massive stroke. He was 54.

Correspondent Sherri Sylvester contributed to this report.

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