Chevy Chase has entertained audiences for over five decades with his quick wit, physical comedy, and memorable characters. As one of the breakout stars on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, Chevy helped launch the iconic sketch comedy show into a pop culture phenomenon. Though he left SNL after just one season, Chevy went on to star in some of the most popular comedies of the 1980s and 1990s.
With his deadpan delivery and exaggerated pratfalls, Chevy Chase became known as one of the funniest comedic actors of his generation. His career has spanned movies, television shows, and even a brief music career. So how much is this legendary funnyman worth today? What are some of his most notable projects over the years? Let’s take a look at Chevy Chase net worth and the moments that built his comedy empire.
Getting His Start on SNL
Chevy Chase’s career took off when he became one of the original cast members on NBC’s Saturday Night Live in 1975. Though he was only on the show for one season, Chevy became known for his signature opening monologues and bringing characters like the Land Shark to life. His Weekend Update newscast segment set the stage for that staple on SNL for decades to come.
Chase was one of the first real breakout stars from the new late night sketch show. Though he left SNL after just one season to pursue a film career, his brief SNL run showcased his talents for physical comedy and impersonations. His success on the show proved his ability to captivate live audiences.
Breakout Film Roles in the 1980s
After leaving SNL, Chevy Chase landed his first major movie role in the 1978 comedy Foul Play with Goldie Hawn. The film was a smash success, grossing over $100 million worldwide. But it was just the start of Chase’s meteoric rise in Hollywood.
In 1980, Chevy Chase starred in the hit comedy Caddyshack as the wacky Ty Webb. With his zen-like personality and knack for getting himself into hijinks, Chase stole every scene. Caddyshack went on to become one of the most beloved comedies of all time.
Chase then portrayed the charmingly flawed Clark Griswold in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation. His portrayal of a dad hellbent on giving his family the perfect road trip adventure spawned four sequels over the years. The Vacation franchise cemented Chase’s reputation as one of America’s favorite funnymen.
Other major 1980s hits featuring Chevy Chase included Fletch, Three Amigos!, Funny Farm, and Christmas Vacation. Chase had an incredible run, playing iconic comedic characters in some of the decade’s most successful films.
Co-Founding the Groundlings and Earning Respect in the Comedy World
Before making it big, Chevy Chase honed his comedy skills as one of the original members of The Groundlings improv group in Hollywood. Alongside fellow founding members Gary Austin and Laraine Newman, Chase helped launch The Groundlings in 1974.
The legendary comedy troupe became known for its emphasis on improvisation and producing new comic talent. Notable Groundlings alums include Phil Hartman, Lisa Kudrow, Will Ferrell, and Kristen Wiig. As a co-founder of this influential improv group, Chevy Chase helped pave the way for generations of comedic actors.
Chase’s quick wit and background in improv comedy earned him respect in the industry. Known for his ability to adlib and improvise, Chevy brought an unpredictability to his characters. Even as a big Hollywood star, he continued developing new material at The Groundlings and maintained his improv skills.
Small and Supporting Roles Through the 1990s
By the 1990s, Chevy Chase began taking smaller and supporting roles that highlighted his talents for physical comedy. He frequently stole scenes with just a few minutes of screen time.
In the 1992 comedy Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Chase showcased his trademark clumsy pratfalls as a man turned invisible. As a talk show host kidnapped by Sacha Baron Cohen in the 1999 cult hit Man on the Moon, Chase got to unleash his improv chops.
Other 1990s scene-stealing roles included Cops & Robbersons, Funny Farm, Hero, Snow Day, and Dirty Work. Though often playing minor characters, Chase’s brand of physical slapstick and sarcasm made him a standout.
Voicing Dog Characters and Animated Roles
Chevy Chase has always had a very expressive voice and talent for accents. He’s put his vocal talents to good use by voicing dog characters in children’s movies over the years.
In the 1989 classic Christmas Vacation, Chase did the barking and growling for Clark Griswold’s hapless dog, Snots. He then voiced dog characters in movies like Spaced Out, Funny Farm, and Cops & Robbersons.
Chase also voiced animated characters in films like The Karate Dog, Goose on the Loose, and The Wrong Coast. His distinct voice has brought many family-friendly animals to life.
A Short-Lived Talk Show and Memorable SNL Appearances
In 1993, Chevy Chase started hosting his own late night talk show on Fox called The Chevy Chase Show. However, the show failed to catch on and was canceled after just six weeks. Though it was a short-lived disappointment, it showed Chase’s eagerness to experiment with the late night format that launched his own career.
Chase frequently returned to host Saturday Night Live, including becoming the first former cast member to host the show. His controversial but lively hosting gigs proved that America still loved the comedy icon. To this day, he holds the record for most SNL hosting gigs by a former cast member.
Playing Pierce on Community
After a couple of decades away from a regular TV role, Chevy Chase landed a main part on the NBC comedy Community in 2009. He portrayed the arrogant moist towelette tycoon Pierce Hawthorne at the dysfunctional Greendale Community College.
Though he left the offbeat show in 2012 after three seasons, the role introduced Chevy Chase to a new generation of fans. His vanity and lack of self-awareness made Pierce an obnoxious but hilarious character. And Chase got to trade quips with fellow comedy veterans like Joel McHale on this cult favorite sitcom.
Estimated Net Worth: $50 Million
After a long career playing some of comedy’s most iconic characters, what is Chevy Chase’s net worth today? According to numerous sources, Chase has accumulated an estimated net worth around $50 million.
Much of those millions came from his major movie roles in the 1980s during the prime of his film career. Films like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Caddyshack, Fletch, and Three Amigos were massive hits that paid Chase well. His ongoing reputation as one of Hollywood’s top comedy stars gave him plenty of leverage in contract negotiations at the height of his fame.
While some of his later roles were smaller supporting parts, Chase likely continued earning healthy paychecks for films and television appearances. His stint on Community would’ve brought a few million dollars over his three seasons on the network sitcom as well. And residuals from his decades of movies and shows continue paying royalties over the years too.
While $50 million is an enormous fortune, it’s lower than contemporary comedy stars like Steve Martin or Dan Aykroyd who have net worths around $140 million. But Chevy Chase paved the way for today’s funny actors. And he continues adding to his millions by occasionally acting in roles that show off his seasoned comedy chops.
Quick Facts About Chevy Chase’s Life and Career
- Full Name: Cornelius Crane Chase
- Born: October 8, 1943 (age 79) in New York, NY
- Breakout Role: Saturday Night Live (1975-1976)
- Biggest Movie Hits: Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Fletch, Three Amigos!
- Only Emmy Winner for SNL’s First Season (1976)
- Co-founded The Groundlings improv group in 1974
- Hosted short-lived The Chevy Chase Show talk show in 1993
- Played Pierce Hawthorne on Community from 2009-2012
- Estimated Net Worth: $50 million
- Married to Jayni Luke since 1982, 3 daughters
Very few entertainers have enjoyed the kind of career longevity that comedy legend Chevy Chase net worth achieved. His rise from scrappy SNL newcomer to Hollywood star shaped the next generation of funny actors. With his deadpan sarcasm and slapstick physicality, Chase created some of comedy’s most iconic and hilarious characters.
Though not all of his projects reached the same cultural impact, Chevy Chase’s best performances consistently deliver laughs. Thanks to his foresight as an early SNL shining star and co-founding the influential Groundlings, Chase made an indelible impact on American comedy. While Chevy Chase net worth may pale in comparison to modern comedy greats, Chevy Chase paved the way by building a model for funny actors to thrive both on TV and in film.
Frequently Asked Questions
What movie made Chevy Chase famous?
Chevy Chase became a household name as a breakout star on Saturday Night Live in 1975. But his performance as Ty Webb in 1980’s Caddyshack helped establish Chase as a big Hollywood star and film comedy legend.
How did Chevy Chase make his fortune?
As one of the earliest breakout SNL stars, Chevy Chase earned big paydays starring in hit comedies throughout the 1980s like Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Fletch, and Three Amigos! Residuals from those classic comedies continue paying him royalties.
Why did Chevy Chase leave Community?
After three seasons playing Pierce Hawthorne, Chevy Chase left Community in 2012 amidst tensions with creator Dan Harmon. Chase later stated he left due to exhaustion from working long hours on the sitcom.
Is Chevy Chase friends with Bill Murray?
Chase and Murray famously did not get along on the set of Caddyshack. However, they made amends years later. Chase called Murray to patch things up after the death of their SNL colleague John Belushi in 1982.
What does Chevy Chase look like today?
Now 79 years old, Chevy Chase still sports his trademark head of curly grey hair. He occasionally takes acting roles like playing an elderly Burt Grummer in 2019’s The Last Laugh. Chase looks remarkably youthful for his age.