A talented comic performer, particularly adept at deadpan humor, Chevy Chase began writing comedy material for an Off-Broadway revue which later became the basis of his film debut, "The Groove Tube" (1974). An original member of the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players on NBC's "Saturday Night Live", he quickly emerged as one of the show's leading performers. Whether he was serving as the smarmy, sarcastic host of the show's "Weekend Update" segment ("I'm Chevy Chase and you're not!") or impersonating President Gerald Ford (pratfalls and all), Chase nearly overshadowed the formidable talents of his co-stars. He won two Emmy Awards for performing and writing and by November 1976 had decided to field several of the many offers for features and primetime work.
By the time he earned a third Emmy for his contributions to "The Paul Simon Special" (NBC, 1977), Chase had made the jump to the big screen. He was at his best teamed with Goldie Hawn in "Foul Play" (1978), Colin Higgins' comedic riff on Hitchcock. Many of Chase's subsequent outings, however, have been decidedly mediocre. More a sketch player than an actor, he has fared better in films that are more episodic, like the several "National Lampoon Vacation" films which have proven popular in the 1980s and 90s. When Chase has attempted a full-fledged characterization, he has not fared as well, coming the closest with "Fletch" (1985). Having developed an onscreen persona of a superior smart aleck, Chase seemed stuck in a rut and his stardom slipped somewhat as sequels ("Caddyshack 2" 1988, "Fletch Lives" 1989) and screen misfires ("Memoirs of an Invisible Man" 1992) failed to ignite the box office. In the fall of 1993, Chase premiered his own late night chat show, which (not unlike many of his films) vanished after six weeks. He had slightly more luck at the box-office with the relatively good showing of "Man of the House" (1995), which teamed him with rising teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas.