Cornelius Crane Chase—nicknamed after a Maryland suburb—is a wry, urbane comedian who exploded into television prominence as one of the original cast members of "Saturday Night Live" and later starred in a number of film comedies, including "Caddyshack" and four of the National Lampoon's "Vacation" movies.
Proclaimed "the funniest man in America" by New York magazine in 1975, Chase was a privileged product of New York City for whom comedy—and everything else—came easily. He has one of the most compelling pre-fame resumes of any Hollywood star, having been a cab driver, a truck driver, a bartender, a drummer, keyboard player and a tennis pro.
The son of a prominent magazine writer and a concert pianist, Chase was born in 1943 in lower Manhattan and entered the Social Register at an early age. He was the valedictorian of his high school class and became a comedy writer in his 20s for the Smothers Brothers and National Lampoon. Later, he joined "Saturday Night Live" as a writer, not a performer.
Given a chance to appear onscreen, the striking, 6-foot-4 Chase was a hit, winning Emmy Awards for both his writing and acting. Chase put a satirical twist on American life as Clark Griswold, the well-meaning but embattled father in "Vacation" and its sequels, and as Ty Webb, the insouciant golf pro in "Caddyshack," playing alongside Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight.
Marred by a string of duds, however, Chase's career has been derided by some critics as one of largely unmet promise. A married father of three, he lives in Bedford, N.Y.