Judy Belushi-Pisano, actor and John Belushi's widow, dies at 73

Judy Belushi-Pisano, an actor and the widow of “Saturday Night Live” star John Belushi, died Friday, according to social media posts shared by the Belushi estate. She was 73.

Belushi-Pisano died after a years-long battle with endometrial cancer, her son Luke Pisano told the Martha’s Vineyard Times. Luke said that Belushi-Pisano — a “great mother,” “beloved sister” and “special person” — was diagnosed in 2020 and entered into hospice care in 2023.

John Belushi’s official Instagram, run by his estate, paid tribute to the comedian’s widow, saying “there was no one like her.”

“Judy made everyone feel loved,” the post read. “She was nonjudgmental, light, funny and pure. You could be truly yourself around her, that alone was a gift.”

The post acknowledged her “unwavering dedication and creative genius” in the creation of the Blues Brothers, a blues and revue band originally led by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Belushi died in 1982 at age 33 from a drug overdose.

“In the years following John’s passing in 1982, Judy honored his life and championed his legacy and Blues Brothers brand,” the post read. “As we bid farewell, we pledge to continue her work, ensuring that John’s legacy, and the Blues Brothers will never fade.”

Born Judith Jacklin, Belushi-Pisano was Belushi’s high school sweetheart. They married on New Year’s Eve 1976.

“I figured that at least was a date he’d be able to remember,” she joked to the Chicago Tribune in 2004.

Belushi-Pisano spent 15 years with Belushi as he became a well-known figure in the comedy world, especially as one of the original “Saturday Night Live” cast members. She participated in Belushi’s projects, including the musical “The Blues Brothers” and comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” according to IMDb.

She was deeply shaken by her husband’s death, she told the Chicago Tribune.

In the immediate aftermath, “[i]t was difficult to go to the grocery store,” Belushi-Pisano said. “It was difficult to watch him on ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

Belushi-Pisano became a champion — and a staunch defender — of Belushi’s life and legacy. Upon his death, she gave journalist Bob Woodward access to Belushi’s loved ones for the biography “Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi.”

She was publicly enraged by the finished product, which detailed Belushi’s drug abuse. (Woodward said his approach was meant to demonstrate how the entertainment industry enabled the addiction, the Chicago Daily Herald reported in 2005.)

To counter “Wired” and its movie adaptation, Belushi-Pisano released “Samurai Widow” in 1990. Her intentions with the book were to shed light on who her first husband was outside of his drug addiction and to help others experiencing a similar heartbreaking loss, according to a 1990 Houston Chronicle article.

“The main theme is really a woman’s story, going through an important transition time, through two healings,” she told the Plain Dealer in 1990.

The same year “Samurai Widow” was released, Belushi-Pisano married Victor Pisano. They would go on to divorce in 2010.

In 2005, Belushi-Pisano helped write another biography about her first husband, titled “Belushi.” She told the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2006 that she struggled for years to reconcile with Belushi’s death.

Belushi-Pisano, at that time, said she still placed flowers at his grave.

“Someday I imagine that there’ll be a day when I just won’t be there,” she said. “There will be something else I have to do. I went through a long grieving process. … Now I can say that’s over and I can acknowledge John’s dead. I can look at his life now and … sort of say ‘the way he died was tragic, but he had a helluva life.’ We had a lot of great times and we had struggles, and we went up and down, but mostly that was a good life.”

Belushi-Pisano is survived by her four children, as well as grandchildren.

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