Multi-talented actor, musician and comedian Charles Rocket will sadly largely be remembered by posterity for two things: he created a firestorm on Saturday Night Live by saying “fuck” on the air in a Dallas spoof in February, ’81, which, along with low ratings, led to the entire cast being canned and the remainder of the ’80-81 season cancelled.
And he killed himself.
It was announced today that Rocket, 56, killed himself on October 7 in a field near his home in Canterbury, Conn., by apparently slitting his own throat. “An investigation determined there was no criminal aspect to this case,” State Police Sergeant J. Paul Vance said.
Charles Claverie was born in Bangor, Maine, and attended the Rhode Island School of Design where he was active in the RISD arts scene. A skilled accordion player, he formed the band the Fabulous Motels in his Rhode Island days and much later played with with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie on a tribute album to composer Nino Rota.
Rocket became a newscaster in RI under the name Charles Kennedy and also worked in Colorado Springs (see KOAA video on Rocket here) and Nashville before heading to SNL to do the Weekend Update.
After the SNL fiasco, Rocket worked steadily in TV — Moonlighting, Max Headroom, Cybill, Touched by an Angel, thirtysomething, Law & Order: Criminal Intent — and also provided voices for cartoon series. His movie credits include Earth Girls are Easy, Dances With Wolves, It’s Pat, Wagons East, Dumb and Dumber, Murder at 1600 – his last film role was in the 2003 Sylvester Stallone film Shade.
We just saw Rocket last week in a minor role as the lead kids’ dad in ’93’s Hocus Pocus on the Disney Channel and I told my wife the SNL story – she said, “Oh, he’s that guy.”