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Bill Charuchas, 75; SNL Skit Spoofed His 'Cheezborger' Spiel

November 02, 2001

Bill Charuchas, 75, one of the hawkers at Chicago's legendary Billy Goat Tavern who belted out "cheezborger, cheezborger" for nearly four decades, died Oct. 23 of a gallbladder infection while traveling in Greece, tavern owner Sam Sianis said.

Charuchas spent 37 years at the Michigan Avenue landmark, flipping burgers, flirting with women and shouting, "Try the double cheese! It's the best!"

Charuchas and late owner William "Billy Goat" Sianis, Sam Sianis' uncle, amused lunchtime crowds that often included movie stars and politicians. They belted out, "Cheezborger, cheezborger! No fries, cheeps!"

That line was popularized in a skit on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s. The skit starred former Chicagoan John Belushi, who was familiar with the tavern.

Charuchas, who often worked six or seven days a week, emigrated from Greece in 1954 and worked for 10 years at a hamburger stand across the street from the Billy Goat. He moved to the tavern in 1964.

"He enjoyed being here all those hours--not only because he was a good worker, but because he liked the people," Sianis said. "He had a lot of fun."

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