Tragic Details About David Spade

The following article contains mention of suicide and substance abuse.

It's difficult to imagine the world of comedy, including films, sitcoms, sketch, late-night talk shows, and stand-up, without David Spade. For more than 30 years, Spade has been a consistently prolific comedian and comic actor, with his wry, sardonic, cutting style essentially giving '90s humor its through-line

After breaking through in a "Police Academy" sequel, Spade became a star on "Saturday Night Live" in the early '90s with celebrity impressions (Michael J. Fox), memorable characters (the nasty flight attendant who says "Buh-bye"), and the celebrity bashing monologue features "Hollywood Minute" and "Spade in America." After "SNL," he starred in the well-received "Tommy Boy" opposite Chris Farley, small comedies including "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" and "Joe Dirt," and then returned to TV with big roles on major sitcoms "Just Shoot Me!" and "Rules of Engagement," also and hosting "The Showbiz Show" and "Lights Out" for Comedy Central.

Throughout all those years of making the world laugh, and well before them, Spade also bore witness to a substantial amount of death, destruction, and sadness. Here's a look into the dark and tragic side of David Spade.

David Spade's childhood babysitters: the desert and a rifle

When Arizona-raised David Spade was in elementary school in the early 1970s, his father had abandoned him, his two older brothers, and his mother, as he discussed in a Live Talks Los Angeles event (via The Hollywood Reporter). The elder Spade visited about twice a year and didn't regularly keep up with child support payments, leaving the family to survive on the fringes of poverty. Spade's mother had to work to pay the bills, but couldn't afford expensive childcare, so she came up with a novel if also potentially dangerous method to keep her three sons busy during the day. 

"We all had guns 'cause we're from Arizona," Spade said at the event. "So, she would take us on the way to work to the end of the desert, and I had a rifle. Andy had a pistol. Bryan had a shotgun." Also provided were sack lunches, a canteen of water, and Bactine "in case everything went wrong." Spade and his two brothers would wander the desert for hours, shooting at cacti, birds, and rattlesnakes until his mother's shift ended. "She would pick us up seven miles away at the Chevron station." Spade added, "It was a little extreme, but it worked."

David Spade experienced a lot of death as a young man

David Spade's brand and passion is comedy — sarcastic, self-deprecating comedy about human nature and the superficiality of the modern world. To be funny and laugh at the world are hard things to do in the face of death, loss, and grief, but then, maybe that's what fuels Spade. He's endured quick and unexpected losses of family members, friends, and colleagues, a pattern that has, sadly, persisted for decades.

According to his memoir "Almost Interesting," Spade was raised in part by a stepfather, a military veteran. "He had been a doctor during the Vietnam War, so he had post-traumatic stress syndrome," Spade wrote. His mental health progressively declined, and according to the The New York Times, Spade's father figure committed suicide when the future comedian was 15 years old. That one death was the first of a string of losses in Spade's life throughout the years he was in high school and college. "People just started going right and left, and I would sit and stare at a wall," Spade said. "I just said, okay, I guess I'll cross my fingers that it doesn't happen to everyone. And more people would go."

The death of Chris Farley hit David Spade hard

More than 25 years after starring in the cult classic buddy comedies "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep," David Spade is still closely associated with Chris Farley, his on-screen partner, frequent "Saturday Night Live" co-star, and real-life off-screen close friend. Suffering from substance abuse and addiction issues for years, Farley died at age 33 of an overdose of cocaine and opioids in December 1997, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office (via The New York Times).

The death devastated Spade, so much so that he was a notable no-show at Farley's memorial service. "I think people misunderstood me not going to that funeral," Spade said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in 2014. " was just too... emotional, and I wouldn't be able to handle it."

Spade said on Reddit that he still thinks about Farley "all the time," something likely made more difficult by online commenters. In 2019, Spade told The New York Times that he still receives nasty messages from people who loved Farley but hated him, with many expressing some variation of "I wish you died instead." "The first couple of times it was rough, but now it's the standard burn," Spade admitted. "I wish I didn't get that three times a week."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His sister-in-law, Kate Spade, committed suicide

According to Entertainment Tonight, David Spade's older brother, Andy, married Kate Spade in 1994, just one a year after the former Mademoiselle accessories editor decided to make handbags instead of write about them. She opened her first Kate Spade store in 1996, on the way to creating the large and lucrative Kate Spade & Company, one of the best known fashion brands in the world.

The designer also endured mental health issues. "Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years," Andy Spade told People, adding that she proactively met with doctors to gain some control. On June 5, 2018, Kate Spade was found dead by her housekeeper in her New York City apartment. The cause of death: suicide by hanging, according to a medical examiner's office. Less than two months later, David Spade reflected on his sister-in-law's life and death on "Good Morning America." "She was such a beautiful, lovely, great spirit that obviously will be missed," Spade said. "I'll start bawling, but thank you for saying something." Days later, he donated $100,000 to the National Alliance on Mental Health in Kate Spade's honor (via People).

"I feel like Katy wouldn't have done it, five minutes later," Spade later told The New York Times. "But these things happen and there's no going back."

His friend and opening act Brody Stevens took his own life

Beyond his work as an actor, sketch performer, and TV show host, David Spade is an actively touring stand-up comedian. In the 2010s, he hired Los Angeles-based confessional alt comic Brody Stevens to be his opening act and collaborator. Stevens, a regular on many L.A. comedy shows, TV series, and podcasts (and featured actor in "The Hangover"), was open about his struggles with depression and anxiety, particularly on his Comedy Central reality series, "Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!" 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stevens was discovered dead in February 2019. "Comedy lost a good man today. Brody Stevens. #rip," Spade tweeted at the time. A death certificate acquired by TMZ reported that Stevens died of suicide by hanging, and that his bipolar disorder and depression diagnoses were factors in his death.

The loss of Stevens came less than a year after the death by suicide of David Spade's sister-in-law, Kate Spade. He told The New York Times that such extended periods of grief had forced him to develop new coping techniques. "I don't want to say I'm immune to it," Spade said. "But there's a way you just have to learn to shut off the tear valve. It's just too brutal."

David Spade's personal assistant attacked him in his home

In the early 2000s, David Spade hired friend David "Skippy" Malloy to work as his personal assistant. Both their professional and personal relationships ended abruptly and violently at about 5 a.m. one morning in November 2000. As related on "Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik," Spade awoke in his bedroom with the feeling that someone was watching him, and sure enough, Malloy was standing ominously in the doorway. 

Malloy claimed that the home's security alarm had gone off and that he'd been contacted by the alarm company. As Spade woke up, he realized he hadn't even turned the alarm on. "And he punched me. And I hit the bed. And he hit me with a stun gun," Spade recalled. "We fought again, he threw me down. I got my shirt ripped off, I got out again, out front we fought in the driveway." Finally, Spade, covered in blood and feeling the effects of the stun gun, escaped Malloy, locked himself in his house, hid under his bed, and found his shotgun, which he believes Malloy intended to use to kill him.

Police arrested Malloy, whom Spade said was "obviously mentally troubled right now" (per AP News), while Malloy's lawyer said that his client's actions were the result of "a psychotic state due to cocaine." Malloy pleaded guilty to assault and received a sentence that included five years probation, 480 community service hours, and a restraining order to stay away from Spade.

David Spade got into a nasty feud with Eddie Murphy

One of the biggest stars to ever emerge from the celebrity and comedy actor factory that is "Saturday Night Live" is Eddie Murphy. The comedian joined the show in 1980 and dominated it for four years with electrifying impressions and original characters such as Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Jesse Jackson, Buckwheat, Gumby, Mr. Robinson, Velvet Jones, and Little Richard Simmons. From 1984 on, Murphy became one of Hollywood's most bankable actors, headlining such mega-hits as "Beverly Hills Cop," "Coming to America," and "Boomerang." Murphy suffered a bit of a career slump with a string of critical and commercial bombs in the '90s, during which time David Spade was doing his trademark snarky schtick on a regular "SNL" feature called "Spade in America." In one 1995 installment, a picture of Murphy appeared on the screen and Spade quipped, "Look children, it's a falling star, make a wish!"

According to his memoir "Almost Interesting," Murphy called Spade at "SNL" and confronted him over the phone in an angry, loud, profane tirade. Murphy was so offended that he didn't return to host or even make a cameo on "SNL" until 2019. "What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, 'Hey, come on, man, it's one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I'm one of you guys,'" Murphy told Rolling Stone.

His girlfriend publicly cheated on him

David Spade has been one half of many high-profile double-celebrity relationships, perhaps most famously with Lara Flynn Boyle. The comedian and the actor dated in the late 1990s when both were at their career peaks — he was coming off "Saturday Night Live" and on the hit sitcom "Just Shoot Me!" while Boyle was starring on the Emmy-winning legal drama "The Practice." The seemingly stable relationship quickly crumbled, however, when Lara Flynn Boyle left Spade for Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson, who unabashedly made a play for her. 

"Nicholson asked Lara Flynn Boyle out in front of me," Spade told Details (via the Daily Mail). That got Boyle annoyed, with Spade, not Nicholson. "She got mad because I didn't stick up for her. I said 'I've been in this town long enough to know when I'm outranked. You're either gonna go out with him or you're not.'"

Boyle at first denied any romantic interest in Nicholson, but apparently started seeing him while still involved with Spade, per the Daily Mail. She got into a car accident in Los Angeles and escaped via the sunroof, allegedly heard screaming, "I have a boyfriend! I can't be here!" But reporters got wind of the incident, and when the National Enquirer called Spade for a comment on his girlfriend's crash, he learned she'd been seeing Nicholson behind his back.

David Spade's home was burglarized

In 2017, TMZ reported an uptick in brazen robberies of the homes of celebrities. Following the likes of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Emmy Rossum, and Alanis Morissette, David Spade experienced the dual indignities of home invasion and theft when in June 2017, a team of burglars allegedly somehow disabled his security and alarm system and entered his Beverly Hills home. They made off with about $80,000 worth of cash and expensive jewelry because they walked away with a safe containing those items, along with the sentimentally priceless wedding ring that belonged to Spade's mother.

"When I came home one day, my blinds were up, and it's not normal," Spade said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He found that "curious," and he went to bed that night and felt "uneasy," so he grabbed his shotgun, which he kept by the safe...which was no longer there. Thinking members of his bathroom remodeling crew may be to blame, Spade called the police the next day, who wondered if Spade had any friends who were "down on their luck or low on cash," or "sketchy chicks." Spade later told TMZ that police may have located some suspects after all.

David Spade has repeatedly been unlucky in love

David Spade has never married, but he's been linked with a long list of conventionally attractive and widely desired famous women. He has a daughter with Playboy model Jillian Grace, per The Sun. In the '90s and beyond, per some unconfirmed reports, he romanced the likes of Kristy Swanson, Julie Bowen, Teri Hatcher, Brittany Daniel, Krista Allen, Jillian Barberie, Heather Locklear, Pamela Anderson, Nicollette Sheridan, and Naya Rivera. Well, Heather Locklear is one who can definitely be confirmed: Spade was a little bit down on himself when talking to Andy Cohen on SiriusXM, saying he was "sure she took some grief" for going out with him.

Spade is well aware of the media and public's bafflement over his ability to attract A-list women. "I get it," he told Page Six. "But I think it was more played up because I didn't seem like this guy that goes out with girls at all so if there's one or two pretty ones it's so astounding and everyone freaks out and you write an article, 'Oh a pretty girl went out with this guy!'"

David Spade thinks that a well-known rumor about him, one that many men would find flattering, is actually linked to his spotty dating record. On Rob Lowe's "Literally!" podcast, Spade addressed the assumption that he is extremely well-endowed. "No," Spade said when asked by Lowe to confirm or deny. "What happens is, Robert, is, I think [the exes] need a reason to say they went out with me."