John Belushi makes his Second City debut
Photos: Courtesy of Second City

February 1971

“The first time I saw him I thought he was some sort of auto mechanic who’d wandered into the theater,” Second City alum Joe Flaherty recalled. Belushi, the 21-year-old son of an Albanian immigrant from Wheaton, brought a febrile energy to the storied improv group. His experience helped turn Second City into an SNL pipeline and seeded the most enduring comedy legacy of the era.

From the Archives

Belushi newspaper clipping

How unknown was Belushi when he first started performing at the then-11-year-old improv house? Our events listing from November 1971 misspelled his name.