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Friday, December 19, 1997 Published at 02:50 GMT

World: Americas

American comic Chris Farley dead at 33
image: [ Chris Farley(right), and Dreamworks SKG founder Jeffery Katzenberg at a showbiz party ]
Chris Farley(right), and Dreamworks SKG founder Jeffery Katzenberg at a showbiz party

Chris Farley, the larger-than-life comic whose specialty was playing sweaty, tightly wound characters who erupted in a vein-popping frenzy, was found dead on Thursday in a Chicago apartment. He was 33.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Farley died young like his comic idol and inspiration, John Belushi, sharing his hearty appetite for food and drink.

On television's "Saturday Night Live," Farley characters were clearly inspired by Belushi, who also got his start on the show and died of a drug overdose in 1982.

As motivational speaker Matt Foley, he ended his speeches by smashing through furniture in a froth, his blond hair messed up and his polyester leisure suit bursting at the seams.

He also did an impersonation of US politician Newt Gingrich, on the floor of Congress, with Gingrich himself looking on, and played a flabby, barechested exotic male dancer, his jiggling gut spilling over his waistband.

In the movies, Tommy Boy, Beverly Hills Ninja and Black Sheep, he played the same kind of lovable, bumbling slob.

"Although I love this kind of comedy, sometimes I feel trapped by always having to be the most outrageous guy in the room," Farley said in 1996.

"In particular, I'm working on trying not to be that guy in my private life."

Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels "told me that that's what killed Belushi more than anything else," Farley said.

Farley, a 1986 graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, performed with Chicago's Second City comedy troupe before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1990.

Police and about 20 reporters gathered outside the 100-story John Hancock Building on a stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile, where Farley's body was found.

Police said he owned an apartment in the building, but it was not immediately known whether he was found in that apartment.

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