Thirty-eight years ago, on October 11, 1975, “Saturday Night Live,” a comedy show featuring Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin, made its television debut on NBC.
The 90-minute program, broadcast live from Studio 8H in the GE Building at Rockefeller Center, includes a different guest host and musical group each week. The opening sketch ends with an actor announcing: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
Comedian George Carlin hosted the debut episode and performed his football and baseball monologue. Later that year, Candace Bergen became the first woman to become the host. In 1982, seven-year-old Drew Barrymore became the youngest person ever to host the show.
Starting in 1976, comedian Steve Martin hosted SNL 14 times. Since 1990, Alec Baldwin hosted 13 times. John Goodman hosted a dozen times, starting in 1989.
SNL was created by Canadian-born writer Lorne Michaels, who said: “I wanted a show to and for and by the TV generation. Thirty-year-olds are left out of television. Our reference points, our humor, reflect a life-style never aired on TV. “
“Saturday Night Live” introduced memorable characters and catchphrases that are part of pop culture. It also launched the careers of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, David Spade and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The show is also recognized for its political humor, with Chevy Chase mocking President Gerald Ford as a klutz, Dana Carvey spoofing President George H.W. Bush, and Tina Fey portraying 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. It remains the longest-running, highest-rated show on late-night TV.
This season’s SNL premiere on September 28, 2013, hosted by Tina Fey and featuring musical guests Arcade Fire, registered the best debut ratings in three years, drawing 6.5 million viewers, a 10 percent increase over 2012, with the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic up 9 percent from last year. New or recent additions to the cast include: Brooks Wheelan, Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, John Milhiser, Mike O'Brien and Noël Wells.