Hard to believe, but it was 20-years yesterday since we said goodbye to the giant of comedy, John Candy. Candy, like fellow comic superstars Martin Short and Eugene Levy, was an SCTV graduate, who went onto being one of the world’s most beloved movie stars. Even from those early turns in the likes of “Stripes”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Splash!” (his real breakthrough) it was clear Candy had something; later, with his headlining turns in the likes of “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “The Great Outdoors”, “Spaceballs”, “Uncle Buck” and “Cool Runnings”, it was confirmed – he was a comedic genius.
Candy was just 43 when he died of a heart attack on the set of the comedy “Wagon’s East” – the actor’s 43rd movie – on March 4, 1994.
These were the actor’s – who had been working in searing heat all day on the set of the film (which went on to play in near-empty theaters) – last moments on film :
But, if only because he didn’t get to finish the film, Candy would likely prefer to be remembered not for “Wagon’s East” – or “Canadian Bacon” , the Michael Moore (!) directed comedy, released shortly after the former – but for some of his earlier, better movies.
10 Gold Moments from John Candy on Film :
10. Candy, playing Tom Hanks’s sibling, had some terrific words to work with in “Splash!” (1984). Here’s Freddie’s explanation of ‘Love’.
9. He was in it for all of five minutes, but Candy was so memorable – as the security guard at Wally World – in the first of the “Vacation” movies that most remember him as being one of the film’s ‘stars’.
8. Not known for his stand-up, like Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy, but boy was Candy good at it. Pity he didn’t take to the stage more.
7. Around the time his film career started to kick in (1984), Candy was a regular on a short-lived NBC sitcom called “The New Show”. Had it been a good show, the actor would’ve been a treat to watch every week.
6. Candy as Orson Welles? Man, he was brilliant. Here he is on The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour in 1982.
5. We saw two sides of Candy in “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” (1987) – his crazy, unrestrained goofy side, and his softer, sweet side. He really could play it all.
4. Can you imagine anyone else but John Candy giving life to (1989’s) Uncle Buck!?
3. One of Candy’s final films was also one of his best and biggest, “Cool Runnings” (1993). This was Candy at his best.
2. Though he never gave in to Dan Aykroyd’s plea to play Louis Tully in “Ghostbusters” (a role his friend Rick Moranis would ultimately accept), some say because he wasn’t going to being paid his usual fee, Candy did do his friends a favour and appear in the music video. He’d later work with Aykroyd on several films, including their 1988 two-hander “The Great Outdoors”.
1. Candy, who seemingly struggled with his celebrity persona, was never big on interviews (“I think the real reason I hate to do interviews is because I think I’m boring. I just always thought there were more important things to talk about than myself. Also I get nervous. When I did a few interviews several years ago, there were a few things said about me that I was uncomfortable with. I felt I’d put my foot in my mouth. So it’s an awkward situation”, he said), but when he did grant one, he made sure he had something interesting to say.