LORNE MICHAELS: The Desi Arnaz show in February was a great show. He wouldn't stay at our normal hotel; he had to stay at the Waldorf. The great moment was when he was doing "Babalu" live on the air with Desi Jr. I was in the control room watching and we were trying to figure out when to cut away. He throws himself into it so much, I'm like seeing his lips turn blue. He's going into it totally, like he's thirty. And I'm thinking, "Oh my God, he's going to have a coronary. What happens if he dies on live TV?" And so we finally cut away to commercial.
JANE CURTIN: There were huge highs and huge lows. I think that because of the talent, and because of the people's temperaments, you could have these incredible moments of sheer exhilaration and excitement, and then moments where you just feel like you're a pill, you're a tiny little piece of lint. You feel as though you don't deserve air. So the highs and lows were huge, but there was a middle ground, because the show had to go on. At eleven-thirty, you had to put all of that stuff aside and hit the ground running and do what you were trained to do- and, hopefully, have a good time. More often than not, you did.
LILY TOMLIN: Never, never, never, never would it occur to me that I could teach them something about comedy. Comedy is so personal and so individual, and no, I would never have the attitude that I was there to teach or something. Oh my God, no. Some of that has been written at different times - not about them specifically, but my part in comedy, let's say - but it would be like me telling someone how to perform or something. It would never occur to me. Laraine was always good. And of course Gilda was a very adorable person. I don't know Chevy really well, but I've always liked Chevy. And Jane Curtin - I was never close to her and I don't know that anyone was, but while the other girls were just kind of spinning around her, Jane was always just kind of centered, and ironically she's the one that's had the biggest career. She was always very anchored. I was always impressed with Jane.
The original, still-most-famous cast in the history of Saturday Night Live actually remained intact for only one season. Chevy Chase, the only performer who regularly identified himself by name on the show and who was the player most featured in magazine and newspaper stories - even as possible successor to Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show - left at the end of the first season, returning in later years only for cameos and guest-hostings. Because he had signed a contract with NBC as a writer and not a performer, and stipulated a oneyear term instead of five, he was free to go. In August 1976, when the parting was announced, Chase radiated self-effacing graciousness, saying he had "a very strong love affair with the show" but that "my leaving won't affect it. It has its own momentum. There's more talent in Danny Aykroyd's right hand than in my entire body." Twenty-three years later, at the unveiling of a Lorne Michaels star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Chase would tell a crowd assembled for the event that leaving the show when he did was a mistake-and that he still regretted it.