Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase was born in New York in 1943, the son of a plumbing-company heiress. Valedictorian of his high school class, he attended Bard College where he studied music (he had perfect pitch) and English. The highlight of his brief and half-hearted musical career was a stint as drummer for the band The Leather Canary, which would later come to be known as Steely Dan.

For a portion of his academic career, Chase attended Haverford College. He was kicked out after an incident involving a cow being led up stairs. As we all know, cows have no trouble going up stairs, but getting them to go down without breaking their legs is next to impossible and generally they have to be killed and butchered on the spot.

After graduating from Bard with a BA in English, Chase found temporary jobs as a truckdriver, bartender, and even a professional tennis player before landing a job writing for Saturday Night Live. It took some convincing, but eventually Lorne Michaels relented and let Chevy take over a regular on-screen role. Though a success, Chase lasted only one season here, and switched occupations once more.

This time a full-fledged actor, Chase's 1980 film Caddyshack launched the career that would make him one of the most prominent actors of the 1980's. His role as Clark Griswold in the National Lampoon movies quickly became a comedic classic. His other successful films of the '80s include the Fletch movies, The Three Amigos!, Spies Like Us, and Funny Farm.

The '90's were, however, rather unkind to Chevy. The flop Nothing But Trouble cued the decline of his career; his resume of unsuccesses since then is as daunting as his '80's successes: Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Cops and Robbersons, and who could forget "The Chevy Chase Show" debacle. Chase's 1995 DUI conviction seemed like the only appropriate way to punctuate this phase of his career.

Chase, who has been criticized for making bad decisions as to what roles he accepts, declined the lead role in American Beauty. That, and the movie Snow Day, pretty much round out his career.

In 1996, Chevy Chase was awarded the Harvard Lampoon Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thanks to

Chevy Chase, the name of a celebrated British Border ballad, which is probably based on some actual encounter which took place between its heroes, Percy and Douglas.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

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