New Details Revealed on John Belushi’s Death at the Chateau Marmont

A new book takes a look inside the actor's last days

John Belushi
John Belushi performs live in 1978 in San Francisco. (Getty)
(Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images)

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Since John Belushi’s fatal overdose at the Chateau Marmont in 1982, the actor’s tragic death has been almost synonymous with the storied Hollywood hotel.

Now, over three decades after Belushi’s death, a new book has revealed intimate details about the comedian’s final stay at the infamous Chateau, a haven for the era’s elite Hollywood party culture.

An exclusive excerpt from Shawn Levy’s The Castle on Sunset: Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont published by The Hollywood Reporter takes a look inside Belushi’s last days at the legendary hotel and the death that started a new chapter of infamy for the famously discrete establishment.

“When he checked in at the front desk on the night of Feb. 28, 1982, John Belushi was a time bomb, a waste site, a mess,” writes Levy of the comedian, who appeared “worn to a stump at the age of 33” just a few days before his fatal overdose.

Belushi checked into “his favorite bungalow, No. 3,” which, as Levy writes, would soon be swarmed with cameras, fans, prying “looky-loos” and emergency personnel.

By Thursday, March 4, Belushi’s pal Robert DeNiro found both the bungalow and its tenant “in an awful state.” DeNiro was among a few Hollywood names, including Harry Dean Stanton and Robin Williams, who stopped by Belushi’s lodgings to snort coke in the comedian’s final hours. In the bungalow, Belushi’s friends were greeted by empty pizza boxes, wine bottles and dirty laundry, as well as “a flinty, hard-eyed woman named Cathy,” who would later plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter for supplying Belushi with drugs and administering his final doses.

The next day, Belushi’s bodyguard and personal trainer found him unconscious. “John Belushi was found dead of a drug overdose March 5, 1982, in a seedy hotel bungalow,” Bob Woodward wrote two years later in his controversial account of the comedian’s life, Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi. 

This characterization of the now-infamous hotel, writes Levy, later led to an $18 million lawsuit against the book’s publisher. While Woodward eventually ceded, issuing a press release in which he referred to the Chateau’s “charming ambiance,” Belushi’s tragic end made its mark on the hotel.

“More than three decades after Belushi’s death, the tragedy was still synonymous with Chateau Marmont,” writes Levy. “Even for many in the Hollywood community, the comedian’s overdose was considered a feature of the hotel and not a sad fact from its past.”

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