‘Saturday Night Live’ marks 40 years with who’s who roster of fame

Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and more hit the red carpet in celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live.”

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 15, 2015) (NBC) – Top actors, pop stars, sports heroes and veteran comics turned out in force on Sunday (February 15) for a special broadcast celebrating the 40th anniversary of the seminal late night comedy program, “Saturday Night Live” during a marathon live show.

“I mean SNL has been extremely important for my career just because it was, number one, a dream come true that I get to be a part of the show, number two, it kind of was comedy boot camp, you had to learn to do so many different things,” said actor Will Ferrell, who was an SNL cast member from 1995-2002, on the red carpet in advance of the show.

“You had to learn to be fast on your feet and write and work on a team and incorporate a celebrity host every week, so many things that by the time you left this place you were ready for anything.”

The 3-1/2-hour show on NBC, which has aired the Saturday night staple since 1975 and launched the careers of comedy stars ranging from Eddie Murphy to Martin Short, featured a series of rapid-fire clips of classic SNL bits, with the show’s veterans reprising or reinventing their most-loved sketches.

“It’s defined me,” said Fred Armisen, who was an SNL cast member from 2002-2013.

“So it’s not just an impact, it’s changed everything in my life. But even before I was on the show, ‘Saturday Night Live’ already affected me because I was such a fan and I’m still a fan, so it’s a very big part of my life.”

Ostensibly hosted by Steve Martin, the anniversary show included appearances by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks.

Dozens of cast members from the checkered history of “Saturday Night Live” were on hand, notably first-season regulars Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman and Garrett Morris.

“Just look around, when Eddie Murphy walked in I got chills,” said musician Jon Bon Jovi on the red carpet.

“But think about it, Aykroyd and Murray and Belushi and those who came between him and Adam Sandler and Kristen Wiig and Tina Fey, I mean the gamut of American comic genius.”

Top figures from the music, sports and celebrity world crowded into the studio at NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters, making up a veritable who’s who of popular culture.