Charles Rocket, alias Charles Claverie, Charles Hamburger, Charles Kennedy and Charlie Rockett, spent the formulative 1970s as a television news reporter/anchorman. He jumped from station to station, not keeping ground. Finally, in 1979, he submitted a video of his news reports to Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live.
Michaels had looked around for potential new cast members for SNL. When his contract demands were denied by NBC, Michaels quit the show (he would return in 1985). That, strangely enough, gave Rocket his chance. His tape impressed NBC Entertainment head Brandon Tartikoff and Jean Doumanian, SNL's ill-chosen producer.
To be fair, only the deepest bowels of the NBC videotape library know the exact dimensions of the utter awfulness SNL sank to with the different producer. Rocket didn't help matters any. He was stiff and uncomfortable as the new "Weekend Update" anchor, never getting a laugh from any story he read. The shining light for Charles was his "Rocket Reports," location interviews that sent up obnoxious journalism. Rocket even tried his hand at impersonating Ronald Reagan.
But Rocket's career was forever tarnished February 21, 1981, when he deliberately said the F-word in the closing minute of an SNL telecast. An inflamed MNC demanded Rocket's immediate firing, which did not occur until after Dick Ebersol became the next SNL producer on March 9.
It would be wrong to say that all of Rocket's attempts at a comeback were illusory. He was a co-star on Touched by an Angel and had guest-starring roles on many other dramas.
Charles Rocket's body was found in a field near Canterbury, CT on October 7, 2005. His death was ruled a suicide.… Expand