John Belushi's Final Hours at Chateau Marmont's Bungalow #3
Hollywood historian and author Shawn Levy has a new book being released in the coming weeks titled, ‘The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont.’
In it he details the shocking and sad final days of legendary actor John Belushi inside the infamous Hollywood hangout, along with a handful of big-name celebrities who orbited the troubled comedian.
Belushi was holed up inside Chateau Marmont's Bungalow #3 trying to write his next film, tentatively titled ‘Noble Rot,’ a romantic comedy about a robbery scheme set in the early years of the California wine industry. In the days after his disheveled arrival at the front desk, he would take meetings with writers and development executives, asking any number of friends in and out of the business to give their impressions of the script. It wasn’t going well. The actor was lost inside the haze of an alcohol and drug-fueled binge, hampering his creativity and productivity.
On the evening of Thursday March 4, 1982, Robert De Niro was bopping around town with actor Harry Dean Stanton. The two kept phoning Belushi to get him to come out and join them, first at Dan Tana's, an Italian restaurant favored by movie people, and then at On the Rox, the exclusive nightclub on the Sunset Strip where famous folks could get up to just about anything. Failing to raise him, they drove over to the Chateau to see if they could coax him into a bit of play. Instead, they found him — and his bungalow — in an awful state. The living room was a shambles — not sloppy, but actually trashed, as if in a rage. And worse, a flinty, hard-eyed woman named Cathy was lounging amid the discarded pizza boxes and wine bottles and dirty laundry as if she had some claim to the place and to Belushi himself. De Niro didn't like the look of her at all and he was happy to leave when Belushi suggested that he and Stanton go back to On the Rox and return to the bungalow after the club closed.
Later, comedian Robin Williams had run into De Niro and Stanton at On the Rox, and they all agreed to meet up at Belushi's after Williams performed an unscheduled set at The Comedy Store, also on the Sunset Strip. Afterwards, on the phone, De Niro told Williams that he was busy and that he should stop by Belushi's on his own. Williams did and, like De Niro, was creeped out by the scene, leaving after a few words and a little coke. After he left, De Niro, too, stopped in at the bungalow, entering through the sliding glass patio door. He had a few words and a few lines and then took some of the cocaine that was piled on the living room table and went back to his suite. It was some time past 3 a.m.
Just past noon on Friday March 5, 1982, Belushi was discovered in a state of unconsciousness by his personal trainer and bodyguard, Bill Wallace. Wallace had performed CPR on the comedian but wasn't able to rouse him.
An ambulance arrived and EMTs assessed the comedian's state. They didn't even try to defibrillate him; he was gone. They called for the medical examiner, but the needle marks on Belushi's arms were evidence enough. He had died of an overdose.
Four years later, in 1986, Cathy Smith, the woman who was accompanying Belushi during his final hours pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter for supplying Belushi with drugs and injecting him with his final fatal speedball doses of cocaine and heroin.
Author Shawn Levy’s book, which was excerpted in parts for this post, can be pre-ordered via Amazon HERE.