56. Animal House Roots

Q: At the end of the brilliant film Animal House the main characters are shown as occupying various positions of responsibility several years after their debacle at Faber College, e.g. Bluto ends up a senator, Otter a doctor, Pinto the editor of National Lampoon. Is this a clever spoof, or is the film based on true stories, so that there really is/was a Senator Blutarsky, etc?

A: Are you kidding? It’s all a fiction, though it’s based loosely on the college and/or high school experiences of the three writers, Harold Ramis, Chris Miller, and Doug Kenney—particularly the last two.

The character “Pinto” is based on two different earlier characters which appeared in National Lampoon: First, his “real” name in the movie—Larry¬†Kroger—is also the name of the “owner” of the National Lampoon 1964 High School Yearbook Parody, the creation of Doug Kenney and P.J. O’Rourke. Larry Kroger (in the yearbook parody) is clearly Kenney’s alter ego, and Kenney did, of course, become an editor of National Lampoon. (Initially, the movie was to be set in the high school of the yearbook parody, until they decided to incorporate Miller’s material—see below.) Kenney’s “First Lay Comics” (from the February 1974 issue) and “First High Comics” (from the January 1975 issue) were also adapted for scenes in the film.

Larry Kroger’s nickname in the movie, “Pinto,” was originally the nickname of the protagonist in several short stories by Chris Miller, “The Night of the Seven Fires” (from the October 1974 issue) and “Pinto’s First Lay” (from the September 1975 issue). (There was also a third story: “Good Sports” in the December 1989 issue.) These stories were based on his frat-house days at Dartmouth College, and the “Pinto” character, always referred to only by nickname, is presumably Miller’s younger self.

Kenney’s “Kroger” and Miller’s “Pinto” are melded into one character in Animal House, freely adapting the two writers’ works into one story. Some of the other characters also came from the yearbook parody (e.g., Faun Rosenberg) and Miller’s stories (e.g., Otter). Not sure where Blutarsky came from other than Belushi himself.

Both Kenney and Miller had small parts in the film as members of the Delta House fraternity—Kenney played “Stork” (the nerd) and Miller played a suave-looking guy named “Hardbar.”

One comment on “56. Animal House Roots

  1. -

    In the book, Bluto becomes the president of US Steel.

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