The Glory Days were the first 5 years of SNL and, considered by many, the best years of the show's history, which were, ironically, followed by the show's worst period (1980-81). This era starred the Not Ready For Prime Time Players.
The Not Ready for Prime Time Players were the cast of SNL in the Glory Days. The NRfPTPs consisted of:
- George Coe (1975)
- Chevy Chase (1975-1976)
- Michael O'Donoghue (1975-1977)
- Dan Aykroyd (1975-1979)
- John Belushi (1975-1979)
- Gilda Radner (1975-1980)
- Laraine Newman (1975-1980)
- Garrett Morris (1975-1980)
- Jane Curtin (1975-1980)
- Bill Murray (1977-1980)
- Al Franken and Tom Davis (1977-1980)
- Don Novello (1977-1980)
The show started on October 11, 1975, with George Carlin as host, and Billy Preston and Janis Ian as musical guests. This episode was the one that started it all. The Show, The Glory Days, The NRfPTPs.
After Chevy Chase and Michael O'Donoghue left in 76-77, Bill Murray was added to the cast. By now, the drug cocaine was beginning to take hold of the cast, and even Creator/Executive Producer Lorne Michaels.
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi left together in 79, as most of the cast were now addicted to one drug or another. At the end on the 79 season, Lorne Michaels appealed to NBC to let him take a break for 6 months, and allow SNL to live on in reruns until his return. NBC refused, forcing Lorne to track down a new Executive Producer (EP) candidate. Al Franken was chosen, and almost became EP, but in May 1980, Al performed a sketch mocking NBC boss Fred Silverman. Thanks to that sketch, Al would never be EP under Silverman's watch. With Lorne leaving, 97% of the remaining cast and crew left, in allegiance to Lorne, and to the Glory Days of SNL. The last episode of the "Glory Days of SNL" was hosted by Honorary NRfPTP Buck Henry. During the goodnights, Buck was joined by the entire cast, as they walked off of the set, as the camera panned to the flashing On-Air sign going off, signifying the end of an era. Lorne Returned in 1985, and remains on the show to this day.
In 1984, Billy Crystal revealed, while hosting SNL, that he was one of the original NRfPTPs, but walked out when he was told his monologue had to be cut short.
Where Are They Now and What Have They Done?
- Chevy Chase and Bill Murray have come back to host SNL many times each, but Chevy was banned from hosting again in 1997 (see Chevy Chase: Banned!.)
- Dan Aykroyd returned to guest many times, but only hosted once, for the season finale to the 2002-2003 season.
- John Belushi and Michael O'Donoghue both died after their run on SNL. John in 1982 from drug overdose, and Michael from a Cerebral Haemorrhage.
- Gilda Radner was scheduled to host in 1988, but a writer's strike cancelled that plan. SNL rescheduled for next year, but Gilda died of Ovarian Cancer in 1989.
- Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, George Coe and Don Novello are working on other projects, as they come.
- Al Franken and Tom Davis no longer perform comedy together, but Franken returned to SNL in the 80's, and stayed until the mid-90's. Franken holds the distinction of being the longest-running featured player and is now a United States senator.
- Steve Martin has returned to host numerous times after the Glory Days, equaling up to 15 hosted episodes, and 4 guest spots, the highest amount of appearances of any host on the show.
- Buck Henry, who hosted 10 times during the Glory Days, has yet to return to host, barring one appearance in 1990, in the famous Five-Timers Club sketch, as Tom Hanks joined the list of people who have hosted SNL 5 times or more.
- Candice Bergen went on to host a few more times, and star in the eponymous role in famed sitcom Murphy Brown. Candice went on to become a Five-Timer.
- Lily Tomlin hosted a few more times, and remains an actress to this day.
- Elliott Gould hosted again a few times after the Glory Days, including the first episode of the 80-81 season (he was shocked to find a new set of performers, since he thought he would be working with the old cast). Elliott is now, also, on the Five-Timers list.
The Featured Players
Over the years, the cast had many featured players, but viewers didn't quite include them in the NRfPTP list. A few exceptions include comedy duo Al Franken and Tom Davis, Don Novello, who created and played the character Father Guido Sarducci, and Michael O'Donoghue, who started out on contract, but was dropped after 3 shows to uncredited, along with George Coe. Michael was brought back on next season as the first featured player, and George played bit parts and did announcer work.