In its 43 seasons, Saturday Night Live has launched many successful careers in comedy and created some pretty iconic stars too. Who can forget John Belushi in Animal House (1978), Bill Murray in Caddyshack (1980), Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop (1984) or Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). Overnight, these SNL regulars became household names and struck bonafide box office comedy gold!
But not every SNL cast member becomes an overnight sensation. Sometimes it can take years after their time on SNL to make a mark. As you’ll see, during the 80s and 90s, SNL served as sort of a mid-career move or second act that sometimes led to recurring characters and a resurgence in demand for their talents. For the majority SNL alumni however, their time on the show is the brightest spotlight they’re likely to experience.
With so much history and so many cast members passing through the doors of Studio 8H over the last four decades, even the most dedicated SNL fan would be forgiven for missing some of these players’ stints on the show. Whether it’s the passing of the years, their sketches never caught fire, or they truly weren’t ready for prime time, these stars’ time on the show has been mostly forgotten–until now.
1 Julia Louis Dreyfus - Cast member (1982-1985)
Years before she played Elaine Benes on Seinfeld Dreyfus became the youngest cast member ever on SNL at age 21. Her recurring characters on the show never quite took off and she left the show in 1985. Dreyfus went on to appear in movies for the remainder of the 80s including National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in 1989 alongside Chevy Chase, another SNL alum.
Most recently, she can be seen playing the Vice President, then President, then former President on the Emmy-winning HBO series, VEEP.