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4 years ago|16.2K views

"Samurai Optometrist" - (1978) - John Belushi

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In the early years of Saturday Night Live, John Belushi portrayed an archetypal samurai — he had a dedicated concept of honor, spoke only (mock) Japanese, and wielded a katana. Sketches featuring the character showed him in different occupations that would not be expected for a samurai. He always performed his tasks perfectly, despite scaring his clients quite a few times. The character was modeled after Toshiro Mifune's character in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo.[1]

Samurai Futaba would probably not have become a recurring character if not for Buck Henry's insistence that there be a second sketch featuring him when he first hosted on January 17, 1976. It is perhaps due to these origins that it became standard practice on SNL to feature a Samurai sketch every time Henry hosted, until the time Belushi left the cast. Except for "Samurai BMOC", each time Henry would play the same character, Mr. Dantley.

In issue #74 of Marvel Team-Up (cover dated October, 1978), Belushi (in character as Samurai Futaba) dueled the Marvel Comics supervillain Silver Samurai. In the story, the Silver Samurai sought to recover a ring containing a teleportation device that had inadvertently come into Belushi's possession. The Samurai also appears briefly in issue #54 of The Sandman.