Revisiting the Time Two “SNL” Stars Fought Backstage

Chevy Chase and Bill Murray clashed in 1978

"SNL" 1978
All was not well when Chevy Chase returned to "SNL" in 1978.
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Nearly every television show that’s been on the air for a few years has its share of backstage drama — to say nothing of one that’s been on the air for decades. But backstage drama is one thing; literal fistfights between adults are something else entirely. And, unfortunately, the set of SNL for one fateful episode in 1978 saw a backstage fight between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase.

An article at Ultimate Classic Rock sets the stage for what took place. In 1978, Chase returned to NBC to host the February 18 episode of SNL. Chase was, shall we say, not exactly beloved by his former castmates, though it was Murray who ended up coming to blows with him.

The article cites James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’s extensive history of SNL, Live from New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, for many of the details about the fight — including the observation that John Belushi may have stoked tensions between the two. Verbal sniping between the two eventually turned physical, with Murray dubbing Chase “Medium talent!” after they were separated.

Pete Davidson Fires Back at Chevy Chase: “I Don’t Like Him”
The young SNL star had some unkind words after Chase dismissed the current cast as unfunny.

In the 45 years since their backstage fight at SNL, both Murray and Chase have been accused of improper and unprofessional behavior on subsequent sets. That 1978 clash made for a strange moment in Saturday Night Live history, but it may have also hinted at larger issues to come.

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