John Candy

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John Candy
John Candy.jpg
Candy in September 1993 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
BornJohn Franklin Candy
(1950-10-31)October 31, 1950
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada[1]
DiedMarch 4, 1994(1994-03-04) (aged 43)
Durango, Mexico
Cause of death
Heart attack
Alma materCentennial College
McMaster University
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1969–1994
Spouse(s)Rosemary Margaret Hobor (m. 1979–1994)
ChildrenJennifer Candy
Christopher Candy
 
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This article is about the Canadian actor. For the World War I flying ace of the same name, see John Candy (aviator).
John Candy
John Candy.jpg
Candy in September 1993 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
BornJohn Franklin Candy
(1950-10-31)October 31, 1950
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada[1]
DiedMarch 4, 1994(1994-03-04) (aged 43)
Durango, Mexico
Cause of death
Heart attack
Alma materCentennial College
McMaster University
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1969–1994
Spouse(s)Rosemary Margaret Hobor (m. 1979–1994)
ChildrenJennifer Candy
Christopher Candy

John Franklin Candy (October 31, 1950 – March 4, 1994) was a Canadian actor and comedian.

Candy rose to fame as a member of the Toronto branch of The Second City and its related Second City Television series, and through his appearances in comedy films such as Stripes, Splash, Cool Runnings, Summer Rental, The Great Outdoors, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck. One of his most renowned onscreen performances was as Del Griffith, the loquacious, on-the-move shower-curtain ring salesman in the John Hughes comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

While filming the Western parody Wagons East!, Candy died of a heart attack in his sleep in Durango, Mexico on March 4, 1994, aged 43. His final two films, Wagons East! and Canadian Bacon, are dedicated to his memory.

Biography[edit]

Early life and career (1950–1980)[edit]

Candy was born in Newmarket, Ontario, in 1950.[1] The son of Sidney James Candy and his wife Evangeline (Aker) Candy, he was raised in a working-class Roman Catholic family.[2] His maternal grandparents, Jozefa (Stefaniuk) and Frank Michael Aker, were immigrants from Eastern Europe, of Polish and Ukrainian ancestry.[3]

Candy studied at Centennial College in Toronto and at McMaster University. His first movie role was a small uncredited appearance in the 1973 film Class of '44. He appeared in several other low-budget films during the 1970s, including the bank-robbery thriller The Silent Partner with Christopher Plummer and Elliott Gould. In 1976, Candy played a supporting role (with Rick Moranis) on Peter Gzowski's short-lived, late-night television talk show, 90 Minutes Live. That same year, as a member of Toronto's branch of The Second City,[4] he gained wide North American popularity, which grew when he became a cast member on the influential Toronto-based comedy-variety show Second City Television (SCTV). NBC picked the show up in 1981 and it quickly became a fan favorite. It had won Emmy Awards for the show's writing in 1981 and 1982.[5]

1980s career (1980–1989)[edit]

Among Candy's memorable characterizations for Second City Television were unscrupulous street-beat TV personality Johnny LaRue, 3-D horror auteur Doctor Tongue, sycophantic and easily amused talk-show sidekick William B. Williams, and Melonville's corrupt Mayor Tommy Shanks. Other characters included the cheerful Leutonian clarinetist Yosh Shmenge, who was half of the Happy Wanderers and the subject of the mockumentary The Last Polka, folksy fishin' musician Gil Fisher, handsome if accent-challenged TV actor Steve Roman, hapless children's entertainer Mr. Messenger, corrupt soap opera doctor William Wainwright, smut merchant Harry, "the Guy With the Snake on His Face", and Giorgy, everyone's favourite Cossack.

Mimicry was one of Candy's talents, which he used often at SCTV. Celebrities impersonated by Candy include Jerry Mathers, Divine, Orson Welles, Julia Child, Richard Burton, Silvio Gigante, Luciano Pavarotti, Jimmy the Greek, Andrew Sarris, Tip O'Neill, Don Rickles, Curly Howard, Merlin Olsen, Jackie Gleason, Tom Selleck, Gordon Pinsent, Darryl Sittler, Ed Asner, Gertrude Stein, Morgy Kneele, Doug McGrath, and Hervé Villechaize.

In 1979, Candy took a short hiatus from SCTV and began a more active film career appearing in a minor role as a U.S. Army soldier in Steven Spielberg's big-budget comedy 1941 and had a supporting role as police officer Burton Mercer in The Blues Brothers. A year later, Candy played the lovable, mild-mannered Army recruit Dewey Oxberger in 1981's Stripes, one of the most successful films of the year. In 1983, Candy had a small, but memorable, cameo appearance in Harold Ramis's National Lampoon's Vacation and appeared on Saturday Night Live twice (hosting in 1983) while still appearing on SCTV. According to writer-comedian Bob Odenkirk, Candy was reputedly the "most-burned potential host" of SNL, in that he was asked to host many times, only to be told 'no thanks' by the SNL staff at the last minute.[6]

In 1983, Candy headlined in the film Going Berserk, and was also approached to play the character of accountant Louis Tully in Ghostbusters (completed and released in 1984), but ultimately did not get the role because of his conflicting ideas of how to play the character; the part went instead to Rick Moranis. Candy was one of the many celebrities who appeared chanting "Ghostbusters" in Ray Parker, Jr.'s hit "single" for the movie. In 1984, Candy played Tom Hanks's womanizing brother in the hit romantic comedy Splash, generally considered his breakout role.

Throughout the latter half of the 1980s, Candy often took roles in substandard films (even performing the voice of a talking horse in the Bobcat Goldthwait comedy Hot to Trot). While continuing to play supporting roles in films like Spaceballs, Candy was awarded the opportunity to headline or co-star in such comedy films as Volunteers; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Brewster's Millions; The Great Outdoors; Armed and Dangerous; Who's Harry Crumb?, Summer Rental, and Uncle Buck. He also continued to provide memorable bit roles, including a "weird" disc jockey in the comic musical film Little Shop of Horrors and a policeman in the Sesame Street film Follow That Bird.

Candy also produced and starred in a Saturday-morning animated series on NBC titled Camp Candy in 1989. The show was set in a fictional summer camp run by Candy, featured his two children in supporting roles, and also spawned a brief comic book series published by Marvel Comics' Star Comics imprint.

Later years and death (1990–1994)[edit]

In the early 1990s, Candy's career went into decline after he appeared in a string of critical and commercial failures, including Nothing but Trouble (for which he was nominated for a Razzie as "worst supporting actress," playing a woman), Delirious, and Once Upon a Crime, although he did appear in major successes such as Rookie of the Year (uncredited), The Rescuers Down Under, Home Alone, and Cool Runnings.

Candy attempted to reinvigorate his acting career by broadening his range and playing more dramatic roles. In 1991, Candy appeared in a light romantic drama, Only the Lonely, which saw him as a Chicago cop torn between his overbearing mother (Maureen O'Hara) and his new girlfriend (Ally Sheedy). The same year and in rare form, Candy played a dramatic role as Dean Andrews Jr., a shady Southern lawyer in Oliver Stone's JFK.

In 1991, Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky, and Candy became owners of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. The celebrity ownership group attracted a lot of attention in Canada and the team spent a significant amount of money, even signing some highly touted National Football League prospects like wide receiver Raghib Ismail. The Argonauts took home the 1991 Grey Cup, beating Calgary, 36–21, in the final.[7]

Candy's grave at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California

In 1994, while filming Wagons East! on location in Durango, Mexico, Candy called his friends, including Canadian Football League commissioner Larry Smith, and told them that he had just let go of his team and was putting it up for sale. He then called his assistant, who invited him to play golf with him in the spring when he came back to Toronto. After cooking a late lasagna dinner for his assistants, Candy called his co-stars from his hotel, then went to sleep. After midnight, on March 4, 1994, Candy died from a heart attack.[8][9]

Candy was survived by his wife, Rosemary Hobor, and his two children, Jennifer Candy and Christopher Candy.

Legacy[edit]

Candy's funeral was held at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Candy was interred in the mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. His crypt lies just above fellow actor Fred MacMurray. On March 18, 1994, a special memorial service for Candy, produced by his former improv troupe The Second City, was broadcast across Canada.[10]

Candy's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

Candy's final completed movie was Canadian Bacon, a satirical comedy by Michael Moore that was released a year after Candy's death. Candy played American sheriff Bud Boomer who led an "invasion" of Canada. Candy recorded a voice for the TV film The Magic 7 in the early 1990s. The film remained in production for years due to animation difficulties and production delays, and it was shelved. Candy was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. In May 2006, Candy became one of the first four entertainers ever honoured by Canada Post by being featured on a postage stamp. Blues Brothers 2000 is dedicated to three people, including Candy, who played a supporting role in the original Blues Brothers. A tribute to Candy was hosted by Dan Aykroyd at the 2007 Grey Cup festivities in Toronto in November 2007.[7] Ween's Chocolate and Cheese album released in 1994 is "dedicated in loving memory to John Candy (1950–1994)".

The John Candy Visual Arts Studio at Neil McNeil Catholic High School, in Toronto, Ontario was dedicated in his honor after his death. John Candy, one of the school's most famous alumni, said during one of his annual visits to the school, "My success is simply rooted in the values and discipline and respect for others that I was taught at Neil McNeil." Candy's daughter, Jennifer Candy, is an actress and television producer, having production credits for the television series Prom Queen and Sam Has 7 Friends.

Filmography[edit]

YearMovieRoleNotes
1973Class of '44PauleUncredited
1975It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the TimeKopek
1976Tunnel VisionCooper
The Clown MurdersOllie
Find the LadyKopek
1978The Silent PartnerSimonsen
1979Lost and FoundCarpentier
1941Pvt. Foley
1980Deadly CompanionJohnAlternative Title: Double Negative
The Blues BrothersBurton Mercer
1981StripesDewey "Ox" Oxberger
Heavy MetalDesk Sergeant, Dan/Den, RobotVoice Only
1982It Came from HollywoodHimself
1983National Lampoon's VacationLasky (Guard at 'Walleyworld')
Going BerserkJohn Bourgignon
1984SplashFreddie Bauer
1985Brewster's MillionsSpike Nolan
Sesame Street Presents Follow That BirdPoliceman
Summer RentalJack Chester
VolunteersTom Tuttle
1986Armed and DangerousFrank Dooley
Little Shop of HorrorsWink Wilkinson
1987SpaceballsBarf
Planes, Trains and AutomobilesDel Griffith
1988The Great OutdoorsChet Ripley
She's Having a BabyChet from 'The Great Outdoors'Uncredited
Hot to TrotDonVoice Only
1989Who's Harry Crumb?Harry CrumbAlso Executive Producer
Speed ZoneCharlie Cronan
Uncle BuckBuck Russell
1990Masters of MenaceBeer Truck Driver
Home AloneGus Polinski – Polka King of the Midwest
The Rescuers Down UnderWilburVoice Only
1991Nothing But TroubleDeputy Dennis / Eldona
Career OpportunitiesC.D. MarshUncredited
Only the LonelyDanny Muldoon
DeliriousJack Gable
JFKDean Andrews Jr.
1992Once Upon a CrimeAugie Morosco
Boris and Natasha: The MovieKalishak
1993Rookie of the YearCliff Murdoch (Announcer)Uncredited
Cool RunningsIrving 'Irv' Blitzer
1994Beverly Hills Cop 3Police Officer at HospitalCameo
1995Canadian BaconSheriff Bud BoomerReleased one year after Candy's death
2009The Magic 7Smokestack SamVoice; Produced in 1990-1993; Movie never released

Television[edit]

YearTelevisionRoleNotes
1972CucumberWeathermanUnknown episodes
Dr. Simon LockeRichieEpisode: "Death Holds the Scale"
1974The ABC Afternoon Playbreak2nd SonEpisode: "Last Bride of Salem"
Dr. Zonk and the ZunkinsUnknown episodes
1976The David Steinberg ShowSpider ReichmanEpisode one
Episode two
90 Minutes Live(Various)TV series
1976–1977Coming Up RosieWally WypyzypychwkTV series (With Rosemary Radcliffe, Dan Aykroyd and Catherine O'Hara)
1976–1979Second City TV(Various)50 episodes
1977King of KensingtonBanditEpisode: "The Hero"
1980The Courage of Kavik, the Wolf DogPinkyTV film
Big City ComedyHimself (host) / VariousTV series (sketch comedy)
1981Tales of the KlondikeTV mini-series
Saturday Night LiveJuan GavinoEpisode: "George Kennedy/Miles Davis"
(uncredited)
1981–1983SCTV Network 90(Various)38 episodes
1983SCTV Channel(Various)Episode: "Maudlin O' the Night"
1984The New Show(Various)Five episodes
1985Martin Short: Concert for the North AmericasMarcelTV film
The Canadian Conspiracy(Various)TV film
The Last PolkaYosh Shmenge/Pa ShmengeTV film
1987Really Weird TalesHoward Jensen ('Cursed with Charisma')TV film
1989The Rocket BoyThe HawkTV film
Camp CandyHimselfVoice
1990The Dave Thomas Comedy ShowOne episode
1992Shelley Duvall's Bedtime StoriesNarratorEpisode: "Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat/Millions of Cats"
1994Hostage for a DayYuri PetrovichTV film

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Guide to the cinema(s) of Canada: John Candy
  2. ^ S. Schneider, Karen. "Commentary; "Over the years, friends say, Candy changed very little, sticking close to his working-class Catholic roots."". People. Retrieved May 12, 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001006/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  4. ^ Second City Toronto Alumni at Second City (accessed April 7, 2010)
  5. ^ "John Candy Biography". Biography.com. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live (Little Brown & Co., 2002), p.345
  7. ^ a b Brunt, Stephen (November 21, 2007). "Candy never stopped caring". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved October 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ Reuters (March 6, 1994). "No drugs involved in actor Candy's death". New Straits Times. 
  9. ^ Collins, Glenn (March 5, 1994). "John Candy, Comedic Film Star, Is Dead of a Heart Attack at 45". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ "CH TV Hamilton History". Retrieved 2007-01-29. 

External links[edit]