*As a longstanding fixture in Hollywood, Garrett Morris has seen a lot and done more to secure his name among the comedy greats.
And while historical highs (an original Not Ready for Primetime Player on “Saturday Night Live,” “SNL’”s first-ever black cast member) and multiple roles on the big and small screen have brought fame and good fortune, the entertainer was not immune to the pitfalls of the industry. Pitfalls that included a 40-year cocaine addiction.
Chatting with People, Morris reminisced about his heavy addiction to the drug with fellow “SNL” icon John Belushi during his five-year stint on the long-running show. Unlike Belushi, who died on March 5, 1982, from a fatal injection of heroin and cocaine, Morris overcame his dependence to elevate to a lengthy career that remains strong to this day.
“We lost one of the greatest talents in the country,” Morris said about Belushi’s death. “But John and I never really partied together. I was more introverted. After they wrapped up the show, usually they’d all go to a bar but I’d just go home. I’m not sure the cocaine helped with being introverted.”
Although he played memorable small-screen roles on shows like “The Jeffersons,” “Martin,” “The Jamie Foxx Show” and “2 Broke Girls,” Morris’ drug addiction was still present after leaving SNL in 1980. So much so that it wasn’t until 10 years ago that he finally got sober and quit using cocaine.
“I went to alcoholics anonymous,” Morris told People. “And they give you a sponsor. And that guy calls you all day long, but it works. Within six months to a year, I felt like I could stay sober forever.”
Cocaine addiction wasn’t the only obstacle Morris encountered over the years in showbiz. Racism was consistent in his dealings at “SNL” via resistance among producers who weren’t in favor of a black cast member. Not included in that group was “SNL” creator/producer Lorne Michaels. In Morris’ eyes, Michaels “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
“Some producers didn’t want a Black cast member but Lorne Michaels knew the show needed one,” Morris, who started on “SNL” as a writer, shared. “I dealt with some racism there, but never with Lorne. He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
The racism at “SNL was among the experiences Morris had throughout his time in Hollywood. Despite the negativity, here he is, still standing and thriving.
On Feb. 1, Morris celebrated his 87th birthday as the recipient of star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Though it marks a notable moment, Morris would not have lived to see it if he hadn’t survived a gunshot wound he sustained during a robbery attempt in 1994.
“I had run the New York City marathon in 1993,” he told People, before revealing he accidentally got caught up in an attempted robbery while going to the store for juice the following year.
According to the publication, two men demanded money from Morris, who confessed to always having a problem with running his mouth.
“I said, ‘Oh, somebody’s looking for a fight,’ but then the guy shot me,” the “Car Wash” actor recalled. “It ricocheted into my lumbar number five. That’s the only reason I survived. The doctors told me I might not walk or run again,” he recalls.
Fortunately, Morris recovered from the wound. But he now gets around via a walker, due to arthritis.
In the meanwhile, Morris harbors hopes his full story will be told via an autobiography he’s currently working on. The revelation comes amid news of the upcoming film “1975.” The Jason Reitman-helmed feature centers on the behind-the-scenes drama leading up to the premiere episode of “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 11, 1975.
On board to play the young Garrett Morris is former “New Girl” star Lamorne Morris.
Garrett himself will get his just due at the 6th American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Honors. The annual event, which will take place March 3 at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, shines a light on excellence in the film and television industries. In addition to Garrett, the ABFF will honor Taraji P. Henson, Jeffrey Wright, and Mara Brock Akil. The comedy veteran, writer, actor and singer will receive the Hollywood Legacy Award at the awards ceremony.
MORE NEWS On EURWEB: ABFF Honors Announce 2024 Honorees: Taraji P. Henson, Jeffrey Wright, Garrett Morris and Mara Brock Akil
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