It was 32 years ago this week that actor-comedian John Belushi died of a drug overdose in Hollywood. The Blues Brother and Saturday Night Live alum was found dead in his bungalow at the Chateau Marmont. L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi -- known as "the coroner to the stars" -- officially confirmed that Belushi died after an injection of a combination of cocaine and heroin, which we learned that in drug circles is known as a "speedball." Up until that time, the only speedball I was familiar with was the trade name for a line of graphic arts products, including opaque printing and caliigraphy inks.
Two months after Belushi's burial at Martha's Vineyard, Cathy Evelyn Smith, a woman whom police had described as a back-up singer for rock groups, was quoted in a newspaper article, in which she described giving the actor the speedball, something the Toronto native hadn't told the LAPD when they initially questioned her. Now, with the article out, Smith, who had returned to Canada, was extradited and charged with murder. Eventually in a plea bargain she was sentenced to three years for involuntary manslaughter, and ended up serving about half that time. Upon her release, Smith was deported and we didn't hear anything about her until about ten years later, when Canadian authorities busted her for heroin possession.
It's a sad coincidence that just last week a toxicology report was released on the overdose death of another actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, showing that he also died after an injection of cocaine and heroin. Once again, the word "speedball" was used to describe the fatal drug combination.
If you click on the video you'll see clips from our coverage of the Belushi case; a sad memory for his many fans.