Leonard Bernstein Seducing Chevy Chase Somehow Didn’t Make it into ‘Maestro’

Leonard Bernstein Seducing Chevy Chase Somehow Didn’t Make it into ‘Maestro’

Controversial fake rubber noses aside, Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year, and is currently nominated for seven Academy Awards. But just think of how many more Oscars it would be up for had the movie included a scene in which the musical genius nearly hooks up with the star of Caddyshack.

You might not think that the composer of the iconic West Side Story and the composer of not-so-iconic “Rapper’s Plight” would cross paths, but Leonard Bernstein and Chevy Chase totally met, and even worked together at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration gala, held at the Kennedy Center in 1977. But years earlier, Chase was tasked with inviting Bernstein to host Saturday Night Live, and things got… surprisingly sexy?

According to the biography I’m Chevy Chase… and You’re Not by Rena Fruchter, during his lone season as an SNL cast member, Chase was enlisted by Lorne Michaels to convince Bernstein to host the show. This would enable them to do a West Side Story parody, with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi dancing to songs like “Cool.”

Chase sat next to Bernstein at Kurt Vonnegut’s 50th birthday (God, the ‘70s sound awesome) and asked him if he would consider hosting. Bernstein said he’d think about it, but implied that his answer would “depend in part on how Chevy might respond to the maestro’s attentions.” When the pair ended up alone in a room together later on, Bernstein “planted a kiss firmly on Chevy’s lips” but Chase “simply wagged his index finger at him admonishingly.” As a result, Bernstein declined the invitation and never hosted SNL.

Now, keep in mind, all of this information is all coming from the “authorized” Chevy Chase biography, so presumably this story originates with Chase himself. Bernstein isn’t even the only music legend that Chase claims to have been intimate with; he once told Norm Macdonald all about the time he literally slept with Bob Dylan in the ‘60s.

Chase also told the Leonard Bernstein story to Fox News in 2007, but some of the details were slightly different. In this version of events, Chase met Bernstein backstage at a concert, and he was accompanied by SNL writer Tom Schiller. The end result, however, was the same. “He put his hand on my knee,” Chase explained. “When we were leaving, he kissed me full-on, on the lips.” The story may not be true, but it’s still far from the most egregious lie to be repeated by Fox News. 

Given that there’s at least some documentation of this anecdote, would it have killed Bradley Cooper to include in the movie? Come to think of it, they probably could have gotten Joel McHale to play Chase again.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).


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