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Tragedy stuck the entertainment world in 1997, when comedian Chris Farley died of a drug overdose at only 33 years old. Now, one of his closest friends is looking back on their relationship in a new interview. In a conversation with Howard Stern on June 9, actor Tom Arnold spoke about Farley, including some fun memories and how he tried to help his friend achieve his goal of sobriety. Read on to see what Arnold had to say about Farley planning his bachelor party, how they met, and more.
Farley and Arnold met because of Saturday Night Live.
Though he also starred in movies, Farley is best known for being a cast member of Saturday Night Live. He starred on the series from 1990 to 1995. While Arnold was not a cast member of SNL, he did know the show's creator, Lorne Michaels, who introduced them.
"Lorne Michaels called me and he said, 'You have a lot in common with Chris Farley. Would you please spend time with him?'" the True Lies actor told Stern. As another point of connection, Farley did impressions of Arnold on SNL.
Arnold become Farley's sobriety sponsor.
Farley had substance and alcohol use issues, and had been in and out of rehab "at least 17 times," according to a 1998 article from Entertainment Weekly. In his Stern interview, Arnold confirmed that Farley really did want to quit using and said he was on his way to his 17th stay in rehab at the time of his death. "You know, he wanted to be sober," Arnold said. "And I think Lorne really worried about that. So I was his sponsor for a few years." He added, "He liked to have fun, and he had too much fun. [I was] very sad when he died."
Arnold has dealt with substance use disorder himself, which he touched on in the interview. "I always told Chris, you can't be fat and do drugs. You got to pick one, and I speak from experience," he said. Stern asked if it was frustrating to not be able to get through to him, and Arnold responded, "It's also frustrating, because at a certain point he's like, I'm not going to be around Tom because I don't want him to see."
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Farley was Arnold's best man at his wedding.
Arnold has been married four times, and for his wedding to Julie Lynn Champnella in 1995, Farley was the best man. He also planned the bachelor party, which Arnold spoke about in the Stern interview.
Arnold said the party took place at Scores strip club in New York City. "What happened was, all the guys, David Spade was in the wedding, there was a lot of guys, and then Farley disappeared," the actor. "And then came on stage naked." The actor explained that the group ended up getting booted over the stune. "They end up kicking everybody out," he added. "I mean, because he was a big guy. He did not mind being naked."
Arnold read a eulogy at Farley's funeral.
Arnold described himself and Farley as "very close," which explains why Arnold would be one of the people to read a eulogy at his funeral. The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Arnold told a story about how Farley wore a powder-blue tuxedo to his son's bar mitzvah and flirted with all the women in attendance, including the wife of the rabbi. He also joked, "Chris was concerned about his size, and so he made sure that all of us who knew him well saw him naked at least once."