● Contrary to popular assumption, Betty White is not the oldest person ever to appear on the show.
No, the oldest performer ever to make a guest appearance was the legendary musical figure Eubie Blake, who was 92 when he appeared during the fourth season of the show.
● One episode of SNL will never be repeated: the episode hosted by Milton Berle in 1979.
Lorne Michaels was so opposed to booking Berle on the show, and working with him was reportedly such an ordeal that the episode has been figuratively buried. After it was aired the episode was stuck in a vault, where it remains never to be seen again—it’s not even included on the DVD collections!
● Some stars will always be glad they were not chosen for the cast of Saturday Night Live .
No one more than Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston, both passed over not long before they were cast in the blockbuster sitcom Friends. A detour to Saturday Night Live might not have hurt either of their careers, but being cast on the prime-time hit more than made up for the rejection. According to Kudrow, who lost out to Julia Sweeney, she’s thankful she didn’t get Saturday Night Live.
● “Coneheads,” those hugely popular recurring characters from the show’s first five years, started out as “Pinhead Lawyers of France.”
Dan Aykroyd, who was chiefly responsible for the idea, envisioned characters whose heads were four inches higher than normal so they’d touch the top of the TV screen. But network censors worried that real “pinheads” might be offended, and Aykroyd realized it might look like ridicule of a physical deformity, so the Coneheads’ origin was relocated to a fictitious distant planet (though family members continued to claim “France” as their birthplace).
● Most of the musical acts featured on SNL are paid virtually nothing for their performances.
Somewhere along the line it was determined by NBC research that a shot on SNL always meant a healthy spike in album sales for the artists featured, so the musical segment became a virtual profit center for the show, with some labels even helping to foot the bill for production costs. It’s still considered one of the great showcases in music.
● Bill Hader’s break-ups as “Stefon,” the New York partyboy, were real, but he needed special dispensation to do them.
Lorne Michaels has a longstanding rule against actors laughing at their own jokes, especially since it often looks fake to viewers and belongs to the “old school” of comedy. But writer John Mullany would often—at the last minute before “air,”—insert something into Hader’s script to crack him up. The worst Hader ever lost it as Stefon was when he saw on the cue cards that a Jewish vampire was going by the name of “Sidney Applebaum.”