To a generation of film lovers Chevy Chase was known as Clark Griswold the star of the famous “National Lampoon’s Vacation” series of films. And while many children would have watched “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” one Christmas Day/Christmas Eve, Chevy Chase has re-emerged over the last couple of years and brilliantly played the sleazy Pierce Hawthorne in the hit television comedy “Community.”
Cornelius Crane Chase (he was given the nickname Chevy by his grandmother) was born Oct. 8, 1943, in Lower Manhattan, New York City. His father, Edward Tinsley Chase, was a book editor and magazine writer while his mother, Cathalene Parker, was a concert pianist. Chase’s parents divorced when he was young and in later years he has claimed he was abused by both his mother and stepfather. Both his parents died in 2005.
Chase attended three different high schools before going to Bard College where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in English. While studying, Chase’s interest mainly revolved around music and his band Chameleon Church, which recorded one album in 1969. Before forging a career as an actor, Chase worked a number of odd jobs as well as writing for “Mad Magazine” and becoming a member of both the Channel One comedy ensemble and “The National Lampoon’s Radio Hour,” which also featured John Belushi and Bill Murray.
Chase begun his television career with some small performances in shows such as “Columbo,” but he first gained the attention of the public when he was one of the founding members of “Saturday Night Live.” From there he not only appeared in the “The National Lampoon” series of films but was featured in classic comedies such as “Caddy Shack” and “Funny Farm.”
Sadly Chase made a lot of B-grade comedies in the middle of his career, but he re-emerged in the 2000s with performances in television shows like “Brothers & Sisters” and “Chuck” before landing roles in popular comedy films such as “The Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Not Another Teen Movie.” However, it took until he was cast in “Community” in 2009 for him to announce himself to a whole new legion of fans.
In his personal life Chase is an environmentalist whose political alliances have seen him raise money for both Bill Clinton and John Kerry. He also publicly criticized George W. Bush after the 2004 election using terms such as “uneducated, real lying schmuck” to describe the new president.
Chase has been married three times to Susan Hewitt (1973-1976), Jacqueline Carlin (1976-1980) and Jayni Chase (1982-present). He also has three daughters with Jayni Chase – Cydney Cathalene (born in 1983), Caley Leigh (born 1985) and Emily Evelyn (born 1988).
With the popularity of “Community” it is not surprising that Chase fans will see the comedic legend return to the big screen in 2013 with roles in “Lovesick” and “Before I Sleep.”