Caddyshack is an iconic film for a number reasons but especially the amazing comedic cast and crew who have all become legendary in their own right. People quote the film constantly (sometimes without even knowing it) and the movie has definitively secured its place within the lexicon of popular culture. Explore this list of scandals, sorrows, and other interesting information from and about the stars and filmmakers of the classic film.
Caddyshack was directed by the late Harold Ramis. Harold made many films over his career, both as an actor and a director. You might remember him best from the film Ghostbusters where he played the role of Egon Spengler. In his final years, Harold co-starred in a new school of comedy films like the Judd Apatow flick Knocked Up. In that film he played the father of comedian Seth Rogen.
In 2010 the actors of Caddyshack got together for an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine. Harold recounted his first ever directorial job and how difficult it was to find a golf club that would allow them to shoot saying, “We had 11 weeks to shoot the film. I had no idea what that meant because I’d never directed before. We shot it at Rolling Hills (now called Grande Oaks), a semi-private club in Florida. We kind of picked it by default. We visited a lot of really nice country clubs, and they didn’t want us because what club wants to shut down for a movie and have hundreds of people trampling on the golf course?”
A Presidential Honor
Harold Ramis tragically passed at the relatively young age of 69 years old in 2014. He died from complications related to a condition he had called autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. When Harold passed away, President Obama was saddened and he released the following statement which included a nod to the classic Caddyshack.
The POTUS said, “Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America’s greatest satirists, and like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago’s Second City. When we watched his movies – from Animal House and Caddyshack to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.”
Writer Douglas Kenney
One of the screenwriters and producers of Caddyshack was Douglas Kenney, who was the founder and major contributor to National Lampoon magazine. Douglas can also be seen in the film acting as an extra as both a dinner guest and can be seen chopping a line of cocaine for a female guest next to him.
When Caddyshack was originally released in 1980 it received negative reviews, although it now has achieved many accolades and a cult following that has mostly gone mainstream. Sadly, after the negative reviews Douglas fell into a deep depression and increasingly abused alcohol and cocaine.
Chevy Chase’s Lament
In the 2010 Sports Illustrated Interview, Chevy Chase discussed visiting a psychic to get closure on the death of his friend and screenwriter Douglas Kenney, who passed away at the age of 33 in Hawaii.
Chevy said that his wife even took him to a medium to try to find some closure, especially about whether or not Doug’s death was intentional. According to Chevy, the psychic said, “Slipped, slipped.” And, “He’s standing right there, he says it was the stupidest way he could have ever died.” Chevy said that his moment with a psychic helped him to believe that Doug’s death was accidental. Chevy also said he wished Doug could have lived to have seen the tremendous success that Caddyshack garnered.
Caddyshack An Autobiography?!
Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill Murray’s older brother) wrote the script for Caddyshack. In order to formulate their screenplay, they relied heavily on Brian as he and his brother Bill grew up working as a caddie at Indian Hill Country Club in Chicago. The Murray’s also had a very large Irish Catholic family which was the inspiration behind many of the characters, particularly the Noonan family.
Many scenes were taken straight out of the Murray’s life experiences growing up including the character Danny who won a contest similar to one a Murray brother did in real life. The character Danny also worked at a lumberyard and the Murray’s father actually was an executive at a lumber company. And lastly, the insane Baby Ruth candy bar pool scene apparently was based on an actual prank that the Murray boys pulled while growing up.
Bill Murray: Improv Master
Bill Murray is of course now known as a comedy legend, but even in his Caddyshack days those who worked with him recall him as a master of improv. Murray apparently only showed up on set for six days and was able to shoot all of his scenes during that time.
All of his lines were improvised in the film including the famous Cinderella speech. Director Harold Ramis asked Murray if he ever narrated himself as though he were an announcer at a sports event and Bill took it from there.
Ramis’ Favorite Scene
Harold Ramis has had nothing but high praise for Bill and his acting. However, Harold also mentions that Bill is quite moody. As the old Hollywood stereotype about actors goes, Bill Murray seems to fit it quite well. Harold recounted about his favorite part of the film and working with Bill Murray.
He told Sports Illustrated that his favorite scene is Bill’s Cinderella story speech. The only direction that he gave Bill was to practice his golf swing by putting on the flowers. When Harold discussed the scene with Bill he asked if Bill ever pretended to do golf commentary in his head. Bill just ran with it, creating the iconic scene. Even more impressive is that it only took two takes to film the scene. Harold considered Bill to be the best improvisational actor he ever worked with.
A Falling Out
Sadly, at some point Bill Murray and Harold Ramis’ relationship went south. The two collaborated on many films including Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. It was during the filming of Groundhog Day that the two had their final rift. Reportedly, Bill Murray’s personal life was in disarray at the time, with his marriage falling apart.
Bill was also constantly at odds with Harold’s directorial choices about the film. Harold told the New Yorker about filming and said Bill was being “irrationally mean” and was late to arrive on set. Harold further compared it to when a child throws a tantrum instead of rationally expressing his desires.
Morgan Didn’t Want To Do A Scene She Thought Was Flawed
Producer Jon Peters wanted Cindy Morgan to do a nude scene in Caddyshack. He even wanted to invite a Playboy photographer to take some still shots of her while they filmed, and publish them to help promote the film.
Morgan considered this scene to be totally flawed for her character, as well as a move that would hurt her career. She didn’t want to have a repuration in Hollywood as the actress who took off her clothes. The scene was never shot, and after Caddyshack, Morgan went on to star in Tron.
A Sad Consensus
After the filming of Groundhog Day, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray did not speak for twenty-one years. Harold has said that any of the issues that he and Bill had were never about Bill as an actor but rather with Bill’s moodiness, which can make it difficult to work. It sounds like Harold definitely maintained some level of respect for Bill over the years despite their differences.
Reportedly, after Harold fell ill, Bill visited him and the two spoke after all that time. Shortly after, Harold died and Bill later further paid respects to him at the 2014 Academy Awards. While presenting the award for best cinematography, Bill announced the names of the nominees and then broke away looking into the camera and said, “Oh and we forgot one, Harold Ramis for Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day.” The audience applauded and Bill looked to have a tear in his eye for his old friend.
Actor Henry Wilcoxon
Old school actor Henry Wilcoxon was cast in the film as Bishop Pickering. Henry is most famous for his work with the equally legendary Cecil B. DeMille. It was Henry’s last film before he died in 1984. The actor had appeared in many old Hollywood classic films, since back in 1931!
He was probably most well known for playing Marc Antony in DeMille’s version of Cleopatra. In Caddyshack, Henry’s most hilarious, and iconic, line is “Rat farts!” which he yells after missing a putt in what would have been a great golf game. At this moment in the film, Harold Ramis purposely added music from Cecil B. Demille’s version of The Ten Commandments, in which Henry also appeared.
Six Degrees of Craziness?
Caddyshack was shot in 1979. Several years previous to this star Chevy Chase left Saturday Night Live. Chevy stated that he left partially because of his girlfriend at the time. Bill Murray was the one who replaced him on SNL, and the two always had an contentious relationship.
Chevy maintains that Bill was the one that replaced him on Saturday Night Live and claims that the main reason that he left was because he wanted to marry a girl who wouldn’t leave California. He also said that the SNL cast still came to support him at the wedding. As Chevy put it, “John Belushi got so drunk he started making out with my mother.” The girl he left SNL for was named Jacqueline Carlin. Jacqueline Carlin later went on to marry the son of Doris Day, famous music producer Terry Melcher.
A Sinister Closeness!
Chevy Chase’s ex-wife Jacqueline Carlin later married music producer Terry Melcher. Terry was famous for many things including the Byrd’s songs Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! However, claim to fame has a much more sinister note in it. In the 1960s Terry was a producer for Columbia Records. Charles Manson, who deeply desired to become a famous musician, auditioned for him. Terry turned downed Manson, which apparently infuriated the madman.
On Aug 9, 1969, Manson’s cult followers murdered several people, including the famous actress Sharon Tate, at a house located at 10050 Cielo Drive, Beverly Hills. This was previously Terry Melcher’s home when he had been with his ex-girlfriend actress Candice Bergen. At some point Manson had visited Melcher at that address, but had found out that Melcher had moved. Yet Manson still ordered his followers to kill anyone they found in the house to send Terry a “message”.
Rodney Dangerfield and A Substance Problem?
During the remarkable thirty-year anniversary interview with the stars and producers of Caddyshack, they discussed the casting process of the film and revealed some pretty interesting things especially about Rodney Dangerfield, who played Al Czervik.
Executive producer Jon Peters has discussed having Rodney in the film. He said Rodney was a very popular comic but had never been in a movie before. But Jon really dropped a bombshell when he discussed how Rodney came to audition. He apparently showed up in big limo and came into his office, took out a bag of cocaine and did two lines right in front of him on his desk. Harold wanted Don Rickles for the part because he thought he was a better actor than Rodney. Ouch! Allegedly, Rodney felt like he got no respect on set, and it sounds like he was definitely telling the truth about that part of his experience.
In the film, Chevy Chase’s character of Ty Webb is focused on using various “zen” techniques to help with his golf. The character even quotes 17th-century Japanese poet Bashō. Late writer Douglas Kenney had a personal interest in Zen and facets of the Buddhist religion. Bill’s brother Doyle-Murray said that Kenney had an idea for a particular kind of putter with electromagnetic sensors that could tell you when you reach alpha state.
Doug had also pitched an idea previously for a comedy film about Zen Buddhists fighting communist China, however, it never came to fruition. When shooting, Harold wanted Ty Webb to make a noise like a Buddhist chant. Doug wasn’t on set that day so they were unable to consult with his familiarity on the religion. Instead Doug told Chevy to “Make a spiritual sounding sound.” Apparently, Chevy’s “Na-na-na-na-na” sound that he makes while putting was improvised.
Another Feud On Set
Bill Murray and Chevy Chase also had (have?) a longstanding feud, and the two apparently don’t care for each other much. Their fighting stems all the way to their days on Saturday Night Live. Bill Murray and Chevy Chase both have had rumors surrounding their behaviors and both have kind of questionable reputations when it comes to their on-set behavior.
The executive in charge of production, Mark Canton, has said that Bill and Chevy had a bad relationship dating back to Saturday Night Live and that he was even told that they shouldn’t be on set together. Harold Ramis, however, said it seemed like they were able to get it together to star in the movie together and that they seemed to be respectful of one another.
Chevy Comments On Working With Bill Murray
Chevy Chase and Bill Murray have also given their two cents about how they all collaborated on the film.
Chevy said that he felt it worked well because they both like improvising. Chevy said that that they were both attempting to make the other laugh. Chevy recounted that Bill was talking about chinch bugs and that he made the famous line, “A pool and a pond, the pond would be good for you.” Chevy said that was his favorite part of the whole film and that even though Bill is moody he still views him as a good guy. Chevy also said that although he has top billing he really views it as Bill’s movie.
Bill Murray Speaks On Chevy Chase
Bill Murray has also acknowledged his questionable relationship with Chevy. Bill said that they’ve always had a “funny” relationship. And when he was asked to collaborate they just started improving about how the two characters would interact and that they played well off of each other.
However, this wasn’t always the case as the two have an almost legendary case of animosity. Allegedly, Bill even hurled the insult “medium talent” at Chevy once. Ouch.
Bill and Chevy Make Up
While recently doing press for the film Moonrise Kingdom, Bill was asked again about he and Chevy’s original Saturday Night Live fight.
Bill gave Empire magazine his take on the situation, saying, “It was really a Hollywood fight, a ‘Don’t touch my face!’ kind of thing.” He further said that he felt it was because Chevy had departed Saturday Night Live and the rest of the cast was hurt by his leaving, so he was speaking for everyone. Bill also asserts that everything blew over and the two are now friends.
A Legendary Gopher
Upon completion of shooting the filmmakers had a crazy amount of footage, and the first cut of the film was apparently 4 ½ hours long! Although they were originally going to focus on the character of Danny, they decided instead to focus on the main comedians in the film. Yet they knew they somehow had to tie the entire film together as the film felt disjointed like the scenes didn’t fit together. Executive producer Jon Peters apparently suggested using the gopher. Jon recounted that they had to meet with George Lucas and his visual effects company to get a fake gopher. The gopher is actually what ended up tying the whole film together. Jon said when he saw the finished product with the gopher that he felt it was definitely going to be the hit that it turned out to be.
They actually shot all the gopher scenes after the rest of the film was shot, which is why none of the stars appear with the gopher on screen. Even Kenny Loggins, who performed the theme song of the film, had thoughts about the mischievous rodent. He said that Jon told him that they were going to have a gopher pop out of a hole and do a little dance and he thought it was extremely stupid. But, he also posits, people love that puppet!
Settling The Score
Musical score, that is. Pink Floyd was director Harold Ramis’s first choice to write music for the film. However, he couldn’t get them because they were busy touring to support their album, The Wall. You have to admit, that would have been pretty cool.
The second choice for music was Kenny Loggins, who auditioned to be able to write the music. He came up with the Caddyshack theme song, “I’m All Right,” played it for producers and eventually was hired. Composer Johnny Mandel, who did music for M*A*S*H, was hired shortly after to complete writing for the film’s musical score.
The Real Fake Explosion
When Bill Murray’s plastic explosives were set off in an attempt to kill that rambunctious gopher, causing Danny to win the wager between Al Czervik and Judge Smalls, it actually caused more damage than intended. The filmmakers reportedly built a small hill to be ruined instead of the actual green at the country club, the the explosion was so big that it still damaged the course.
The country club owners were not happy to find out about this, since they wouldn’t allow any explosions on their property in the first place. Producer Jon Peters invited them to a lunch to thank them for letting them use the property, but it was just a ruse to be able to film the explosion.
Harold Ramis Didn’t Know What He Was Doing
Caddyshack was Ramis’s first attempt at directing, although he had already lent his comedic talents to Animal House, Second City comedy troupe, and the National Lampoon Radio Hour. He allegedly made a lot of rookie mistakes, such as saying “Cut!” instead of “Action!” or looking through the camera lens as opposed to the viewfinder.
The movie producers wanted to give Ramis a chance, but unbeknownst to him, they had a list of replacement directors lined up to take his place if he couldn’t succeed. And although Ramis has supposedly had caddy experience growing up, he never actually has played one round of golf.
A Chance To Relive The Film
For die-hard fans of Caddyshack, there is actually a themed restaurant that you can go to that is dedicated to the movie! Bill, Brian, and their other four brothers opened the Murray Bros. Caddyshack Restaurant at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida in 2001.
It’s supposed to emulate a “country club gone awry” and features memorabilia, pictures, quotes, and hidden gophers all throughout the restaurant. The menu also features golf-inspired fare such as “Crispy Potato Golf Balls,” “Spaulding’s Hack Salad,” and the “Double Bogey Cheeseburger.” The restaurant also hosts a charity golf tournament that has raised over $4 million for charity over its15-year history.
Ted Knight Wasn’t Too Pleased
Actor Ted Knight was already a seasoned actor who was mostly known for his role on the The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He was reportedly disgruntled when his role was greatly reduced to accommodate larger roles for Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Chevy Chase, who were initially just supposed to have cameo roles in the film. He also supposedly couldn’t handle all the improvisation that was happening before the camera.
In addition to that, Knight was also quite fed up with the constant partying and the unprofessional atmosphere on set. Caddyshack ended up being Ted Knight’s final movie.
Not Quite What You’d Think
When there were talks of adding a gopher to tie the whole film together, Ramis had originally wanted a real live gopher to use in the film. When that wasn’t possible, they decided to use a puppet that was operated by professional puppeteer, Rusty Lemonade. Lemonade had originally gone to The Henson Company to build the gopher puppet, but since they do not take outside assignments, he turned to Jeff Burke, a creature designer for Disney theme parks who helped build the puppet on a moonlight basis.
And if you think that the gopher’s noises sound familiar, you might have heard them in the 1964 show, Flipper. Filmmakers recycled the dolphin noises used for that show to make the gopher seem more lifelike.
Tiger Is A Fan
Of course professional golfer Tiger Woods would be a fan of Caddyshack. Woods played the role of Carl Spackler for American Express’s 2004 commercial titled “Tigershack.” In the commercial, Woods is seen emulating all of the same antics that Spackler does in the film in an effort to get rid of the gopher that is terrorizing the green.
In the end, Woods uses his secret weapon, an American Express card, to call an exterminator and end the gopher problems once and for all. The commercial had two premieres: the first during the World Golf Championships and the second during that year’s Academy Awards.
Cindy Morgan Did Not Sign Up For This
Cindy Morgan was a new actress when she signed on to star in Caddyshack. Being a new, young actress can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re asked to do anything that requires no clothes! When Morgan was apprehensive about doing a topless scene, Harold Ramis was okay with altering the scene, but producer Jon Peters asked to speak to her.
Peters reportedly told her that she would never work in Hollywood again if she didn’t do the topless scene. Despite Peters’s carelessness for Morgan’s comfort, the rest of the cast and crew were pretty understanding. For a lovemaking scene, Ramis ordered a closed set and fellow actor Michael O’Keefe asked the rest of the cast and crew to take off their shirts to make Morgan more comfortable.
Lines Need To Be Drawn
Even after the dispute between Peters and Morgan, the producer invited a photographer to the set to do a shoot for Playboy in which Morgan would be promoting the film. Although she reluctantly agreed, she ended up being too apprehensive about it and Harold Ramis canceled the shoot after siding with her.
But because of this, Peters took it out on Morgan’s career. Morgan has said, “I didn’t work for a long time after Caddyshack. Jon Peters broke my contract because I wouldn’t shoot the nude scene for Playboy.” When the film was done, she wasn’t even invited to the premiere and her name was taken off the opening credits.
Rodney Dangerfield Didn’t Get It
Although he was a seasoned stand-up comedian, Caddyshack was a whole new experience for Rodney Dangerfield. He reportedly felt inadequate and disrespected because whenever he’d deliver his punchlines, no one would laugh. Someone had to explain to him that if someone laughed at the joke, they would have to stop and redo the take.
Luckily, Harold Ramis was no stranger to working with comedians so he was there to lend a helping hand. Despite Dangerfield’s initial inability to follow along with the flow of filming a movie, he was still able to deliver an iconic performance. Wouldn’t you agree?
Sarah Holcomb Says Goodbye
Actress Sarah Holcomb made her acting debut in Animal House as 13-year-old Clorette DePasto, although she was already 18 years old when filming. She subsequently went on to star in Walk Proud, Mr.Mike’s Mondo Video, and Happy Birthday, Gemini, before she signed on to star as Maggie O’Hooligan in Caddyshack.
After Caddyshack, Holcomb quit acting. She supposedly had turned to a life of drugs and alcohol following Animal House, on a path that eventually led to mental illness as she also reportedly suffered from schizophrenia. Chris Miller, who co-wrote Animal House once wrote of Holcomb: “She was young, younger than the rest of us. We were a fast crowd. Drugs were everywhere. She fell into what, for lack of a better term, you would have to call bad company.”
One Simple Premise
Harold Ramis and fellow screenwriter Douglas Kenney found so much success with National Lampoon’s Animal House, that they were quickly working for a follow-up project. According to mentalfloss.com, they had two original ideas: “One was a dark satirical comedy about the American Nazi Party in Skokie, Illinois, and the other was what Ramis dubbed a ‘revisionist Marxist western.'”
Orion Pictures, the production company that ended up backing Caddyshack, rejected both of the first ideas. Then, Kenney and Ramis had an idea about a comedy that revolves around the caddies at a country club. They pitched the idea as “Animal House on a golf course,” and the rest is history.
They Really Know How To Party
Because Caddyshack was filmed at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Davies, Florida, the cast and crew were susceptible to many of the weather conditions that Florida faces. At the time of filming, Hurricane David had landed. When the hurricane hit, production was held up since a lot of the filming obviously took place outdoors.
In order to pass the time, the cast and crew held a huge party indoors at their hotel by the country club! Two people who probably weren’t in attendance at these parties? Ted Knight, as previously mentioned, and Harold Ramis. Ramis wanted to maintain a professional demeanor since it was his directorial debut, so he distanced himself from the parties.
Those Pesky Planes
The filming location was quite close to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Because of this, incoming and outgoing planes would also often disrupt filming and the crew had to again put production on hold. Whenever the planes flew overhead while shooting a golf scene, it caused continuity errors in the dialogue so filmmakers had to do quite a lot of looping.
Luckily, John Murray, Bill Murray’s younger brother, was on hand to help out with this. He would be on set everyday on the lookout for planes that would interfere with shooting. Whenever one was coming, he would inform Ramis and the crew to refrain from filming.
Casting Was A Deal Breaker
After green-lighting Caddyshack for production, the studio executives demanded that a star be cast in the movie. Filmmakers already had Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray on board for the movie, but the studio wasn’t completely on board until they got Chevy Chase to play Ty Webb. The studio didn’t know that the role was written for Chase anyway.
Chase was already a big enough actor for the studio, but director Harold Ramis also had another big star in mind for the movie. For the role of Danny Noonan, Ramis wanted to get Mickey Rourke, but instead they settled on Michael O’Keefe, who was able to play the “goofy kid-next-door.”
Rodney Dangerfield Hires Help
As if he wasn’t already intimidated enough for his first film role, Dangerfield was also worried about his golf skills. In order to help him with that, Dangerfield enlisted the help of singer (and former professional golfer) Don Cherry.
According to imdb.com, Cherry was a regular performer in Las Vegas at the time and he lived in close proximity to Dangerfield. During his singing career, Cherry was an amateur golfer, almost winning the 1960 U.S. Open. He also played on three Walker Cup teams and in nine Masters Tournaments. His biggest hit was “Band og Gold,” which sold over one million copies and reached #4 on the Billboard chart in 1955.
References To The Dalai Lama
In the popular scene between Bill Murray and Peter Berkrot, in which Murray holds a pitchfork up to Berkrot’s throat, everyone remembers Murray’s hilarious anecdote about the Dalai Lama. Murray’s character describes a time when he caddied for the Dalai Lama and at the end, asking for a tip, the Dalai Lama replies, “Oh, uh there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.”
When the Dalai Lama visited America, he was always asked about this scene. But much to the interviewer and the rest of the world’s surprise, not only has the Dalai Lama not seen Caddyshack, he hasn’t even ever played golf!
Faking The Setting
Although Caddyshack was filmed in Florida, it actually is supposed to take place in Nebraska. In order to emulate this, the production crew had to prepare the set by spray painting the grass at the country club blue, so that it could look more like grass that grows in the middle of America, as opposed to grass in a more tropical climate.
The production crew also built a whole second story for the actual clubhouse for the movie. The second floor, however, isn’t really there in real life. The second story was only added for the sake of the movie and it actually empty on the inside.
Being Spaulding Smails
A lot of people remember Spaulding Smails, the spoiled grandson of Ted Knight’s character, Judge Smails. But not many people know of the man behind the role, John F. Barmon, Jr. This is because Barmon’s role in Caddyshack would be his first and only movie role ever.
He recalls accompanying a friend to an agent’s office, but the agent contacted him with the role instead of the friend. Barmon admits that he was surprised at the success of the movie and although his role is somewhat iconic to the film, he had no desire to pursue acting after that. Instead, he forged a successful real estate career in the Boston area.
The Legacies That Live
Nearly 40 years after the release of Caddyshack, we have seen a lot of popular faces of the film come and go. Rodney Dangerfield passed away in 2004 at the age of 82 due to complications following brain surgery. Ted Knight was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove a tumor. Unfortunately, he passed away only six years after the release of Caddyshack, when he was 62.
Today, the only major players from Caddyshack that are still alive are Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Their legacies will live on as strong as the comedic classic that brought them together on screen.