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Chevy Chase: His Life Struggles

Mary Scott
Jan 02, 2020
06:00 A.M.

Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase was a household name in the 70s and 80s, but the "Saturday Night Live" star was battling several demons. Addiction and repulsive character traits haunted his rising Hollywood profile.


Chase was one of the impressive cast members that made NBC's SNL a hit in 1975 when it debuted. Despite reports of his real-life arrogance, the comic became a hit with fans across the country.

Chevy Chase at the Opening Night Gala of "Love, Gilda" - 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2018 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Chevy Chase at the Opening Night Gala of "Love, Gilda" - 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2018 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

By the 1980s, however, it became clear Chase was battling deeper issues. In 1986, the slapstick humor merchant revealed via his rep that he was checking into rehab for his addiction to painkillers.

Chase has also had his fair share of relationship troubles. The New York-born entertainer was first married to a model

Chase's agent Pat Kingsley told the New York Times back then that the comedian checked into the Betty Ford drug rehabilitation center voluntarily.




According to Kingsley, Chase was getting treatment for "dependency on prescription drugs relating to chronic and long-term back problems" he developed from years of pratfalls and stunts on SNL.

Ironically, the rehabilitation center Chase sought was founded by former first lady Betty Ford, whose husband – President Gerald Ford – he mercilessly lampooned during the one year he spent at SNL.



Three years before going into rehab, Chase had gotten candid about his drug use in an interview with People Magazine. At the time, he had only been married to his third and current wife, Jayni, for one year.

"Sure, I've done drugs," admitted Chase, who also confessed he was self-destructive. "I was growing up in the '60s, and you could hardly avoid them… There really wasn't any experimentation with drugs that I hadn't tried. But I was never an over-the-line guy."



Chase said at the time that meeting Jayni, a production coordinator, had helped him do away with the destructive habits. The birth of their daughter, Cydney Chase, in January 1983, seemed to be an even-stronger influence.

"[Jayni] got me right out of the doldrums I'd been in for three years," Chase explained at the time. "There is no smoking of pot, no drugs, no drinking. It's a very clean life."



Unfortunately, many years later, in 2016, Chase would check into rehab again, this time for what was described as a "tune-up" to address an alcohol-related issue.

The "Foul Play" star's rep confirmed to PEOPLE that Chase was in an in-patient program at Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota, adding that he wanted to "to be the best that he can be."



Chase has always been open about his addiction problems. Maybe that has something to do with why he lasted as long as he did in Hollywood despite a widely-known attitude problem that combined racism, homophobia, and misogyny.

Chase has also had his fair share of relationship troubles. The New York-born entertainer was first married to a model and divorced her after three years. His second marriage was to actress Jacqueline Chase, but that also ended in an expensive divorce in 1980. "A separation is so painful," he admitted three years later.

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