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John Franklin Candy (October 31, 1950 – March 4, 1994) was a Canadian actor and comedian. He rose to fame as a member of the Toronto, Ontario branch of The Second City, its related Second City Television series, and in his role in comedy films such as Stripes, Splash, Cool Runnings, The Great Outdoors, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck. One of his most renowned onscreen performances was that of Del Griffith, the loquacious, on the move, shower curtain ring salesman in the John Hughes comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Early life and career

Candy was born in the suburban town of Newmarket, Ontario, son of Sidney James Candy and his wife Evangeline (Aker) Candy. He was raised in a working-class Roman Catholic family. Candy graduated from Neil McNeil High School, an all-boys Catholic public school in Toronto, where he played Canadian football.

Candy's 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, Ninety 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.

1980s

Among Candy's memorable characterizations for SCTV 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 Morgy, from Morgy and Shoo, 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 (Glen Milstead), Orson Welles, Julia Child, Richard Burton, Darryl Sittler, Luciano Pavarotti, Jimmy the Greek, Andrew Sarris, Tip O'Neill, Don Rickles, Curly Howard, Merlin Olsen, Jackie Gleason, Tom Selleck, Gordon Pinsent, Ed Asner, Gertrude Stein, Morgy Kneele, Doug McGrath, and Hervé Villechaize.

By 1980, he began a more active film career having appeared as a soldier in Steven Spielberg's big-budget comedy 1941 and had a supporting role as Burton Mercer, "Joliet" Jake's probation/parole officer 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 the next two years, Candy did a small cameo in Harold Ramis' National Lampoon's Vacation, appeared on Saturday Night Live twice (hosting in 1983), while still appearing on SCTV.

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 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 (however, 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' womanizing brother in the hit romantic comedy Splash, considered to be his breakout role.

Throughout the latter half of the 1980s, Candy worked often taking roles in substandard films (even performing the voice of a talking horse in the Bobcat Goldthwait comedy Hot to Trot). Although Candy continued to play supporting roles in films like Spaceballs, he was awarded the opportunity to headline or co-star in such comedy films as Volunteers; Planes, Trains & 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 state trooper in the Sesame Street film Follow That Bird.

He also produced and starred in a Saturday morning animated series on NBC entitled 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.

1990s

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, and Home Alone.

Candy attempted to reinvigorate his acting career by broadening his range and playing more dramatic roles. In 1991, Candy appeared in a light romantic comedy-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 co-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 players. John and the Argonauts took home the 1991 Grey Cup beating Calgary 36–21 in the final.

Death

Candy struggled with obesity throughout his adult life. During the late 1980s and early 1990s he put on a lot of additional weight, though he made a significant effort to improve his overall health in the last year of his life. However, 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 pasta dinner for his assistants, Candy called his co-stars from his hotel, then went to sleep. After midnight, on March 4, Candy died in his sleep from a heart attack at age 43. His funeral was held at St. Martin of Tours Church. Candy was interred in the mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

On March 18, 1994, a special memorial service for Candy, produced by his former improv troupe The Second City, was broadcast across Canada.

Legacy

Candy's final completed movie was Canadian Bacon, a satirical comedy by Michael Moore that was released the 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.

The John Candy Visual Arts Studio at Neil McNeil Catholic High School, in Toronto, Ontario was dedicated in his honour 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.”

A tribute to Candy was hosted by Dan Aykroyd at the 2007 Grey Cup festivities in Toronto in November 2007.

Ween's Chocolate and Cheese album released in 1994 is "dedicated in loving memory to John Candy (1950-1994)".

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.

Movies

1973 Class of '44 Paule Uncredited

1975 It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Kopek

1976 Tunnel Vision Cooper

The Clown Murders Ollie

Find the Lady Kopek

1978 The Silent Partner Simonsen

1979 Lost and Found Carpentier

1941 Pvt. Foley

1980 Deadly Companion John Alternative Title: Double Negative

The Blues Brothers Burton Mercer

1981 Stripes Dewey "Ox" Oxberger

Heavy Metal Desk Sergeant, Dan/Den, Robot Voice Only

1982 It Came from Hollywood Himself

1983 National Lampoon's Vacation Lasky (Guard at 'Walleyworld')

Going Berserk John Bourgignon

1984 Splash Freddie Bauer

1985 Brewster's Millions Spike Nolan

Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird State Trooper

Summer Rental Jack Chester

Volunteers Tom Tuttle

1986 Armed and Dangerous Frank Dooley

Little Shop of Horrors Wink Wilkinson

1987 Spaceballs Barf

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Del Griffith

1988 The Great Outdoors Chet Ripley

She's Having a Baby Chet from 'The Great Outdoors' Uncredited

Hot to Trot Don Voice Only

1989 Who's Harry Crumb? Harry Crumb Also Executive Producer

Speed Zone! Charlie Cronan

Uncle Buck Buck Russell

1990 Masters of Menace Beer Truck Driver

Home Alone Gus Polinski – Polka King of the MidWest

The Rescuers Down Under Wilbur Voice Only

1991 Nothing But Trouble Deputy Dennis / Eldona

Career Opportunities C.D. Marsh Uncredited

Only the Lonely Danny Muldoon

Delirious Jack Gable

JFK Dean Andrews Jr.

1992 Once Upon a Crime... Augie Morosco

Boris and Natasha: The Movie Kalishak

1993 Rookie of the Year Cliff Murdoch (Announcer) Uncredited

Cool Runnings Irving 'Irv' Blitzer

1994 Wagons East James Harlow Final role; died during filming

1995 Canadian Bacon Sheriff Bud Boomer Filmed in 1993; posthumous release

- The Magic 7 Smokestack Sam Voice; Produced in 1990-1993; Movie never released

Television

Year Television Role Notes

1972 Cucumber Weatherman (unknown episodes)

Dr. Simon Locke Richie Episode: "Death Holds the Scale"

1974 The ABC Afternoon Playbreak 2nd Son Episode: "Last Bride of Salem"

Dr. Zonk and the Zunkins (unknown episodes)

1976 The David Steinberg Show Spider Reichman Episode one

Episode two

90 Minutes Live (Various) TV series

1976–1977 Coming Up Rosie Wally Wypyzypychwk TV series

1976–1979 Second City TV (Various) 50 episodes

1977 King of Kensington Bandit Episode: "The Hero"

1980 The Courage of Kavik, the Wolf Dog Pinky TV film

Big City Comedy Himself (host) / Various TV series (sketch comedy)

1981 Tales of the Klondike TV mini-series

Saturday Night Live Juan Gavino Episode: "George Kennedy/Miles Davis"

(uncredited)

1981–1983 SCTV Network 90 (Various) 38 episodes

1983 SCTV Channel (Various) Episode: "Maudlin O' the Night"

1984 The New Show (Various) Five episodes

1985 Martin Short: Concert for the North Americas Marcel TV film

The Canadian Conspiracy (Various) TV film

The Last Polka Yosh Shmenge/Pa Shmenge TV film

1987 Really Weird Tales Howard Jensen ('Cursed with Charisma') TV film

1989 The Rocket Boy The Hawk TV film

Camp Candy Himself Voice

1990 The Dave Thomas Comedy Show One episode

1992 Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories Narrator Episode: "Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat/Millions of Cats"

1994 Hostage for a Day Yuri Petrovich TV film

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