The Richest Saturday Night Live Cast Members Of All Time

By on March 12, 2015 in ArticlesEntertainment

Saturday Night Live is an institution. In fact, the long running program recently celebrated its 40th season on NBC. It is as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. It has launched the careers of many comedians. If not for SNL we may not have known the brilliance of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and countless others.

The "not ready for prime time" players have given us beloved characters. Where would American pop culture be without the Church Lady, Wayne and Garth, Buckwheat, Jake and Elwood Blues, Stefon, the Spartan Spirit Cheerleaders, Roseanne Roseannadana, Mary Katherine Gallagher, Pat, Father Guido Sarducci, or Toonces the Driving Cat?

It has given us catchphrases such as: "Jane you ignorant slut." "Well, isn't that special?" "Ve just vant to pump you up." "More cowbell." "You look mahhhvelous." "Baseball has been berry, berry good to me." "Yeeaah, that's the ticket." "Daaaaa Beeeears!" "I'm Gumby dammit!" "We are two wild and crazy guys."

It has inspired movies: "The Blues Brothers," "Wayne's World," "Coneheads," "A Night At the Roxbury," "The Ladies Man," and "Superstar," just to name a few. And it has turned a boatload of comedians into millionaires over the last 40 years. Let's take a look at the top 10 wealthiest SNL cast members.

#10. Chevy Chase – $50 million 

Chevy Chase was one of Saturday Night Live's original cast members. He was the original anchor for the Weekend Update segment of the show. His catchphrase introduction "I'm Chevy Chase…and you're not" became very well known. At the conclusion of the sketch, he closed with "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow." This signoff was later resurrected by both Jane Curtain and Tina Fey during their reign as anchor of the Weekend Update. Chase was the first member of the original cast to leave the show in 1976. He was also the first breakout star from the SNL performers. Chase's spot on SNL's cast was given to Bill Murray.

#9. Harry Shearer – $65 million

Harry Shearer joined the cast as a writer and performer in August 1979. He was the unofficial replacement for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd who were both scheduled to depart SNL. Shearer has been vocal over the years about his time at SNL, describing his experience on the show as a "living hell" and "not a real pleasant place to work." He reportedly did not get along well with the other cast members and writers and said that Lorne Michaels told everyone he was just a writer. Shearer left the show at the end of SNL's fifth season, when Michaels jumped ship and took the rest of the staff with him. Shearer is one of the creators, writers and performers of the 1984 mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap." Shearer returned to SNL for the 1984-85 season. He is probably best known for (and wealthy from) his role providing many beloved characters on The Simpsons!

#8. Chris Rock – $70 million

Chris Rock is a household name. Back in 1984 he was a stand up comedian doing the circuit and landing small roles in the movie "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" and the television show "Miami Vice." When Eddie Murphy caught his nightclub act, he befriended and mentored the aspiring comedian. In 1990, Rock joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. He was part of the crew referred to as the Bad Boys of SNL, which also included Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. It was his tenure on SNL that gave Rock the national exposure that launched him into the stratosphere. He left SNL in 1993.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

#7. Will Ferrell – $80 million

SNL had a sharp decline in popularity in the early 1990s and was in search of a new cast. A producer caught a show at The Groundlings and asked Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, and Cheri Oteri to come in and audition for producer Lorne Michaels. Ferrell joined the cast of SNL in 1995 and left in 2002 after seven years. Ferrell became known for his impersonations while on SNL. Those included President George W. Bush, Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray, singer Robert Goulet, Neil Diamond, Ted Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and Alex Trebek, to name just a few. In 2001, Ferrell became the highest paid cast member with a per season salary of $350,000.

#6. Eddie Murphy – $85 million

Eddie Murphy first gained national attention as a cast member on SNL. He is largely credited with helping to revitalize the show in the early 1980s as it struggled without producer Lorne Michaels at the helm. Murphy's famous SNL characters included Buckwheat – a grown up version of the Little Rascals character, a spoof on children's show host Mr. Rogers called Mr. Robinson, and a cynical Gumby.

#5. Dan Aykroyd – $135 million

Dan Aykroyd was the youngest cast member and also a writer of the show for the first four seasons from 1975 to 1979. Aykroyd was known for his impersonations of celebrities like Jimmy Carter, Julia Child, Richard Nixon, Vincent Price, Rod Serling, and others. He was also known for his recurring characters such as Yortuck Festrunk, one of the "Two Wild and Crazy Guys Czech brothers; Beldar, father of the Coneheads family; Elwood Blues, one of the Blues Brothers, and as co-host of Weekend Update alongside Jane Curtain, where he coined the famous catchphrase "Jane, you ignorant slut."

#4. Bill Murray – $140 million

Bill Murray was appearing off Broadway in a Lampoon show in 1975 which led him to being cast on the ABC variety show called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell (no relation to the real SNL), which featured kids with loud voices, and animal acts. It lasted one season. That same season NBC's variety show Saturday Night Live premiered. Murray joined the cast in 1976 following the departure of Chevy Chase. Murray was with SNL for three seasons from 1977 to 1980. During SNL's first few seasons Bill Murray and Gilda Radner were romantically involved.

#3. Mike Myers – $175 million

Mike Myers began performing at age two in commercials in his native Canada. When he was 10, he made a commercial with Gilda Radner for British Columbia Hydro Electric. Shortly after that he swore that one day he'd be a cast member of Saturday Night Live. He joined the cast of SNL in 1989, and spent six seasons as a regular. Some of his notable characters include: Dieter, host of Sprockets; Linda Richman, hostess of Coffee Talk; Wayne Campbell, host of public access show Wayne's World; and Stuart Rankin, shop keeper of "All Things Scottish."

Mike Myers

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

#2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – $200 million

Julia Louis-Dreyfus started her comedic training in Chicago's improvisational group The Second City. Her performances there led to her being invited to join the cast of SNL when she was 21. Louis-Dreyfus was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1982 to 1985. She was the youngest female cast member in the history of the show at that time. During her time on SNL, she appeared alongside Eddie Murphy, Jim Belushi, Martin Short, and Billy Crystal. It was while she was on SNL that Louis-Dreyfus met Larry David, who would go on to co-create Seinfeld.

#1. Adam Sandler – $300 million

Adam Sandler played Theo Huxtable's friend Smitty on "The Cosby Show," and made his film debut in 1989's "Going Overboard." He also started making the rounds of comedy clubs starting at age 17. Comedian Dennis Miller caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles and told Lorne Michaels about him. In 1990, Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL. He became a featured player the following year. He made a name for himself on SNL by performing funny songs including "The Thanksgiving Song" and "The Chanukah Song." In an interview with Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show, he said that NBC fired both him and Chris Farley from SNL in 1995.

Adam Sandler

VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

Lorne Michaels – $350 million

Lorne Michaels co-created Saturday Night Live with fellow NBC employee Dick Ebersol and the network's president Herb Schlosser. SNL immediately gained a reputation for being unpredictable and cutting edge. Over its 40 seasons, SNL has launched the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the United States. Michaels has served as producer, writer, and executive producer of SNL for all but four seasons of the show (season 6-10). SNL has been nominated for more than 150 Emmys and has won 36. It is consistently one of the highest rated late-night television shows.

Other Notable SNL Net Worths:

Tina Fey $45 million

David Spade $40 million

Dennis Miller $30 million

Jimmy Fallon $25 million

Dana Carvey $20 million

Tracy Morgan $18 million

Amy Poehler $18 million

Andy Samberg $16 million

Kristen Wiig $16 million

Rob Schneider $15 million

Jon Lovitz $12 million

Seth Meyers $10 million

Jason Sudeikis $10 million

Kenan Thompson $9 million

Kevin Nealon $8.5 million

Al Franken $8 million

Bill Hader $8 million

Chris Kattan $8 million

Fred Armisen $7 million

Will Forte $6 million

Molly Shannon $5 million

Jay Mohr $5 million

Laraine Newman $5 million

Taran Killam $4 million

Darrell Hammond $4 million

Maya Rudolph $4 million

Tim Meadows $3 million

Chris Parnell $3 million

Rachel Dratch $3 million

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction
Discussion