Pre-Saturday Night Live, the predominate comic voice in America in the 1970s was the National Lampoon magazine. It should come as no surprise that several of those responsible for the Lampoons’s early success – Michael O’Donoghue, John Belushi, Chevy Chase – would be the ones who would chart SNL‘s early fortunes.
But while some of its leading writers were striking out on their own to Not Ready For Prime Time fame, those still at the Lampoon
turned their eye towards expanding their own brand, in the realm of movies. Three of their writers, Chris Miller, Harold Ramis and Doug Kenney, would collaborate on a screenplay about a misfit fraternity house called Animal House
, based in part on two of Miller’s short stories that had appeared in the Lampoon- “The Night Of The Seven Fires” and “Pinto’s First Lay.”When it came time to shoot the film, both Miller and Kenney were given small parts as Delta frat members, giving director John Landis two of the screenplay’s writers to fall back on if the need arose.
Recently Miller has written up some memories of his time on the Oregon college campus filming Animal House over on his website*. Miller has also recently published The Real Animal House, a memoir of his college days that influenced his short stories and the Animal House screenplay.
*Miller’s site is no longer active or available.