Chris Kattan Reveals He Broke His Neck -- And Didn't Know It -- in 2001 'SNL' Skit
In his new biography, Chris Kattan, the former "SNL" regular best known for "Night at the Roxbury" and his flamboyant character Mango, reveals that his chronic neck pain was actually a far more severe injury.
Kattan first talked about his old neck injury while appearing on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2017, but it wasn't until now that he explained that it happened during a 2001 "SNL" episode.
The actor, who's now 48, talked to Variety ahead of the bio's release: "Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live," which is is out May 7.
Kattan dates the injury to a 2001 parody sketch about a group of kids who role play as the “Golden Girls." He says he hit his head hard after falling backwards in a chair, sustaining an injury he now believes was a broken neck.
(We're no expert on neck injuries, but a bit of Googling turned up this guy, who didn't know he had a broken neck for six months.)
He says, despite severe pain, he only got it checked out a year later on his chiropractor's advice. By then, he says, it was too late for workers' compensation.
In the book, Kattan complains that he still suffers the after-effects from the injury: "Even today, I still can’t open my hand wide enough to use my fingers normally on the keyboard. The impact that my injury and subsequent surgeries had on my career was immense, but more importantly, the fallout proved to be devastating to some of the closest relationships in my life."
Lorne Michaels declined Variety's request to be interviewed and a spokesperson for NBC said the network had no record of any claim. No one else Variety spoke to could remember the incident.
The comedian left "SNL" in 2003 after a seven-year run. Since then, he's appeared on "The Middle," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Sharknado 5" and done voice work for “Bunnicula” and "Hotel Transylvania 2."
In the book, Kattan details five surgeries, a failed marriage, drug and painkiller addictions, and missed career opportunities. He says he still face limitations due to his neck injury.
"As a physical comedian, I had always been worried about waking up with a whole different body one day,” he wrote. “That fear became my reality. After those forty-five seconds on the ‘SNL’ stage in May of 2001, my body would never, ever be the same."