The sports comedy Caddyshack is a cult classic appreciated by comedy nerds and golfing dads alike. Released in 1980, the crude, vulgarity-laced film launched Harold Ramis’s directorial career and pulled Bill Murray into the spotlight.
Caddyshack behind the scenes also had plenty of dark drama and tragedy, though. As a first-time director, Ramis allowed (or overlooked) rampant cocaine use, which often had the studio execs tearing their hair out and led to a production that was as improvised as it was scripted. There was the requisite tension between Chevy Chase and everyone else with whom he was working. And the crew notoriously even set off a huge explosion on a real-life golf course without getting the owners’ permission… all while diverting them with food and booze.
The Caddyshack cast had a killer time shooting this movie and thanks to a room full of drugs (it was the ’80s, after all), they left the rest of us with some wild stories, and a solid film to boot.
The Caddyshack Crew Didn’t Have Permission To Blow Up The Golf Course
Caddyshack wouldn’t be Caddyshack if the pristine golf course at a ritzy country club didn’t explode. The film crew had trouble convincing the owners to let them detonate the fairway so they took the owners to dinner to create a diversion while they blew up their golf course.
Clearly the Caddyshack crew included free spirits and due to their impulsiveness, they created one of the most popular movies of all time.
Bill Murray Was Found Passed Out In A Sand Trap
It takes years of dedication to become known as a legend like Bill Murray. Today, Bill Murray is famous for crashing weddings, parties, and generally being a great light in this world but he was once just a young actor who liked to party so hard he would pass out in sand traps. Luckily, he didn’t wander too far away from set and was still able to give a great performance.
Caddyshack Helped End a Feud Between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase
In a perfect world, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase would have been the best of friends but instead they didn’t get along when Caddyshack filming began— their feuding became almost legendary. Bill Murray replaced Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live which made them professional enemies. But, filming certain scenes, especially the cabin scene, brought the two together and ended their feud.
Cocaine Use Around Set Was Rampant
Filmmaking has a magical allure but at the end of the day executives in Hollywood make films to turn a profit, and obviously rampant drug use can hinder their bottom line. Harold Ramis recalled in a Sports Illustrated interview about the wild ’70s, saying,
“We shot the movie in 1979. It was a pretty debauched country at the time. The cocaine business in South Florida was mammoth, and everyone was doing everything.”
The use of cocaine on the Caddyshack set was frequent and heavy. Actor Michael O’Keefe has said that it “was driving everyone.”
The Cast And Crew Thought A Hurricane Was A Great Excuse To Party
If one is stuck indoors due to a natural disaster then they can wait it out peacefully, complain, or use the opportunity stuck inside to party. Much of the Caddyshack cast and crew was not from Florida so they thought the hurricane that struck during filming was cool.
The hurricane party was one of the first behind the scenes Caddyshack parties and set the stage for more late-night antics and questionable activities to come.
There Were Nighttime Golf Cart Races
The Caddyshack crew took advantage of having a country club golf club at their disposal. Despite laws, regulations, and general good sense to not race golf carts under the influence, nighttime races reportedly took place, and often. The actors weren’t the biggest golf fans, by all accounts, but golf cart racing was something they could appreciate.
According to actor Chevy Chase, “It was pretty nuts on that set. At night, we would race golf carts down the fairways, people whacked out having a good time. The crew possessed whatever you needed.”
One Of The Screenwriters Died After The Film’s Negative Press Fueled His Depression
Caddyshack co-writer and producer Doug Kenney was a comedic genius. He was the creative force behind Animal House and spearheaded National Lampoon. Unfortunately, he never saw Caddyshack become the cultural phenomenon that it is today. At just 33, Doug Kenny fell off of a cliff in Hawaii. His death was declared an accident but doubts remain. According to Harold Ramis,
“Some people say he fell, some people say he jumped. I thought he fell looking for a place to jump. Anything’s possible. There were even people who thought he was murdered by drug dealers, but I kind of doubted that.”
Much Of Caddyshack Was Improvised
Who has the time to remember and rehearse lines when they’re having a great time? Bill Murray originally had a tiny part in Caddyshack and was only on set for six days but thanks to his improv background, the great “Cinderella” speech was born.
Additionally, Rodney Dangerfield wasn’t much of an actor but he was never one to say no to a party. Too much partying would make most mortals suffer on set. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was a different breed. Harold Ramis could always count on Dangerfield to improvise a joke that was even better than what was in the script.
The Partying Caused A Generational Rift On Set
Although it’s been a few decades since Caddyshack was released, the cast was mainly compromised of young actors like Bill Murray and Chevy Chase who liked to party. The older actors on set — like Ted Knight — weren’t used to the loose atmosphere and couldn’t relate to the younger generation.
Being a consummate professional, Ted Knight didn’t let his frustration with the younger cast mates partying and doing golf cart donuts at two in the morning affect his performance.
The Cast Had One Of The Most Uncomfortable Press Interviews Of All Time
The press junket can be a harrowing experience for even the most seasoned actor but this 1980 interview with the cast of Caddyshack is cringe worthy. Perhaps, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray are all just tired but it’s likely these three were intoxicated or hung over.
Since Caddyshack is a beloved film today it”s easy to forget that it was panned by critics. Thankfully, this awkward interview took place before the Internet could spread it around and turn the general public off from seeing the film.
The First Cut Of ‘Caddyshack’ Was Over Four Hours Long
The cast of Caddyshack was comprised of comedic heavy weights who were experienced improvisors and enjoyed a laid-back set. But at the time, people like Murray weren’t very well known, which is why first-time director Ramis insisted on having a known figure lend credence to the picture. That person turned out, ironically enough, to be Chevy Chase.
Ramis, though, didn’t run a tight ship; he often let the actors explore and generate new ideas. This helped create a fun, open community (in addition to the copious amounts of alcohol and drugs on set) but left the producers with over four hours of footage through which to sift. If it wasn’t for the deft editing skills by William Carruth, Caddyshack would have been an endless epic… as it is, it opened to less-than-stellar reviews when it was first released.
Harold Ramis Finally Let Loose At The Wrap Party
Director Harold Ramis stayed above the party fray for most of the shoot but the wrap party was finally his chance to catch up to his peers and party his heart out. While most of the cast and crew was exhausted from the nonstop partying for over two months, it was Harold’s chance to celebrate wrapping his debut feature.
Ramis doesn’t remember much about the wrap party because he apparently got so drunk he had to be carried home. Harold Ramis avoiding getting wasted on set signaled to studios that he could be trusted and allowed him to become one of the creative forces behind movies such as Ghostbusters, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Groundhog Day.