Confirming weeks of speculation, the examiner's report released Friday found the rotund comic died from a lethal cocktail of morphine and cocaine exacerbated by advanced heart disease. The death was ruled accidental.
From the moment Farley was discovered dead in his Chicago high-rise December 18, reports began to circulate fingering drugs as the likely cause.
Toxicology tests showed that high levels of morphine, cocaine and a cocaine-related chemical in the comedian's bloodstream triggered his fatal heart attack. Heart disease, brought on by hardening of the arteries, also played a "significant" role in Farley's demise, according to the medical examiner. (A notorious glutton, Farley's five-foot, six-inch frame could barely contain his 296-pound bulk.)
Trace amounts of THC (the active drug in marijuana) and "therapeutic" amounts of Prozac and an antihistamine were also in Farley's system, but those didn't contribute to his death. No alcohol turned up in the tests; however, Farley's liver was scarred by heavy drinking, the report indicated.
Inevitably, the comparison must be made to John Belushi--the live-hard, die-young Saturday Night Live forebear whom Farley openly idolized. ("I wanted to be like him," Farley said of Belushi in 1994.) Both comics followed the same path from Chicago improv to break-out stardom on SNL, relying on manic energy, pratfalls and their considerable girth to get the laughs. And both men died young, each succumbing to fatal doses of drugs at age 33.
Farley was buried December 23 in his family's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.
His last TV appearance came in October when he played guest host on SNL. He'll be seen onscreen one final time next year in the upcoming Almost Heroes, a comedy costarring Matthew Perry.