Charles Claverie, a comedic actor who appeared on the big and small screens, committed suicide on Oct. 7. He was 56.
Born in Bangor, Maine, Claverie studied filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. A love of the limelight and an electrifying presence on-camera helped him to break into broadcast journalism — even though he had no media experience.
Claverie spent the 1970s working as a reporter for WPRI-Channel 12 in Rhode Island, as a weekend anchor for WTVF-Channel 5 in Nashville and as an anchor/weatherman for KOAA-Channel 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also hosted “Super Show,” a daily afternoon program that featured reruns of classic TV shows from the 1950s.
Claverie’s big break came in 1980 when he joined the cast of the NBC show “Saturday Night Live.” He appeared in numerous skits during the 1980-1981 season and provided news commentary on “Weekend Update.” His trademark sign-off was: “I’m Charles Rocket. Good night and watch out.”
While performing in a spoof of the famous “Who Shot JR?” plotline from the soap opera “Dallas,” Claverie uttered the phrase, “I’d like to know who the fuck did it” on the air. When viewers complained about the use of profanity on the show, NBC apologized for the incident. Claverie was also terminated the following week, though he did appear in one last telecast.
Claverie adopted several stage names during the course of his three-decade career in show business — such as Charles Hamburger and Charles Kennedy — but he was best known as Charles Rocket. Claverie acted in more than 30 TV shows, including “Moonlighting,” “Max Headroom,” “Touched by an Angel,” “The X-Files,” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He also appeared in the films “Earth Girls Are Easy,” “Dumb and Dumber” and “Dances With Wolves,” and did voice work for the video games “Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter” and “Age of Mythology.”
Claverie was found on Oct. 7 in a Canterbury, Conn., field. His throat was slit, and a knife was found next to the body. The state medical examiner determined the cause of death to be self-inflicted.