Summary

Birth:
05 Jan 1940 1
Sauquot NY 1
Death:
08 Nov 1994 1
New York City, NY 1
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Full Name:
Michael O'Donoghue 1
Birth:
05 Jan 1940 1
Sauquot NY 1
Death:
08 Nov 1994 1
New York City, NY 1

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Stories

Michael O'Donoghue, 54, Dies; Writer for 'Saturday Night Live'

Michael O'Donoghue, a comedy writer who helped create two of his generation's best-known institutions of humor, National Lampoon magazine and the NBC television show "Saturday Night Live," died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 54 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage, said his wife, Cheryl Hardwick.

Friends and colleagues described Mr. O'Donoghue as a comedy trailblazer, with a sensibility characterized by edgy anger at authority and a fondness for bizarre characters and behavior.

He was a lifelong writer whose talents extended to magazine columns, movie scripts and even country songs. Aside from the two Emmy Awards he won as a "Saturday Night Live" writer, Mr. O'Donoghue also achieved a gold record with his song "Single Bars and Single Women," recorded by Dolly Parton.

He and Mitch Glazer wrote the script for the movie "Scrooged." He was also the author of several books, including "TV Zeitgeist" and a book of poetry called "Bears."

Mr. O'Donoghue was born in Sauquoit, N.Y., and attended the University of Rochester. He worked briefly in newspaper journalism before joining Evergreen magazine in the late 1960's. It was at National Lampoon, which he helped start in 1969, that Mr. O'Donoghue found his comic voice, which was aggressive, absurdist and often extremely dark.

After leaving the Lampoon, Mr. O'Donoghue helped create the "National Lampoon Radio Hour," which starred several performers who later transferred to "Saturday Night Live," including John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.

Mr. O'Donoghue was also an occasional performer on "Saturday Night Live." He appeared in the first sketch ever broadcast on the landmark program, in 1975, playing a language instructor teaching English to a confused immigrant played by Mr. Belushi. The sentence Mr. O'Donoghue used to introduce the language was, "I will feed your fingertips to the wolverines."

Mr. O'Donoghue's last work for "Saturday Night Live" was in 1985. In recent years, Mr. O'Donoghue had devoted himself to other writing projects, including a column for Spin magazine called "Not My Fault" and numerous screenplays.

Mr. O'Donoghue is survived by Ms. Hardwick, a music coordinator for "Saturday Night Live"; a sister, Jane Hamilton of Chicago, and his mother, Barbara O'Donoghue.

Michael O'Donoghue Tribute ... Bill Murray

Bill Murray: Good evening. I'm here to break the news about a death in the family. This week, Michael O'Donoghue, one of the original writers and creators of Saturday Night Live, died. 

He had a tremendous influence on this show and on all of us. He was a writer that the writers, actors - and even the producer - feared. And, in this business, it's better sometimes to be feared than loved. But we're not afraid of him any more -- because he's dead. ... He's dead and he went straight to hell. ... Just - just to visit the couple people he had to meet -- uh, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Richard Speck -- and to await the arrival of Pam Grier.

Mike's work included "Mr. Mike's Least-Loved Bedtime Tales," "The Claudine Longet Invitational Ski Shoot," and, of course, his famous impression of Mike Douglas jamming nine-inch needles into his eyes. Michael used to say, "You only live once and, usually, not even then." But Michael lived well - and we all loved him. Here's a piece of his, written for Laraine Newman, with Michael O'Donoghue as the bartender.

[Murray looks off stage. Fade out. Fade in on the December 1977 SNL sketch Least-Loved Bedtime Tale: The Soiled Kimono, in which a drunken Laraine Newman is asked to sing the aria from Madame Butterfly while bartender O'Donoghue mixes a drink he calls "The Soiled Kimono." Also appearing is O'Donoghue's future wife Cheryl Hardwick who for many years was SNL's musical director. 

Afterwards, we return to Bill Murray at Home Base. In his hand is a drink -- a Soiled Kimono, complete with paper butterfly -- with which he toasts the widow and the deceased:]

Bill Murray: Here's to Cheryl - [removes the paper butterfly from the drink] - and to Michael. Takes a great man to make a great wake.

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