Canadian comic actor John Candy was geared toward a performing career even while studying for a journalism degree in college. Candy's bulky frame and built-in likability enabled him to secure small roles in Canadian film and TV productions. In the early '70s, Candy joined Canada's Second City Troupe, sharing the spotlight with such potent talent (and subsequent close friends) as Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, and Catherine O'Hara. Second City TV, popularly known as SCTV, entered the Canadian TV airwaves in 1975 and was syndicated to the United States two years later. Candy scored an instant hit with such characters as porcine poseur Johnny LaRue, overly unctuous talk show sidekick William B., and ever-grinning "Lutonian" musician Yosh Shmenge. So popular did Candy become that suddenly many of his obscurer pre-starring Canadian films (It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, The Clown Murders) became hot properties on the video rental circuit. Candy stayed with the various SCTV syndicated and network programs until 1983, earning two Emmys in the process. One of the few genuine nice guys in the realm of comedy, Candy was beloved by both co-workers and fans -- even when this lovability was stretched to the breaking point in substandard films. He scored in supporting roles (Splash , Brewster's Millions ), but such thinnish starring features as Summer Rental (1985) and Who's Harry Crumb (1989) seemed to suggest that Candy couldn't carry a film by himself. Then he starred in Uncle Buck (1989), a disarming comedy about a ne'er-do-well with hidden nobility. Receiving relatively little promotion, Uncle Buck was a surprise hit, and stands today as perhaps Candy's best-ever vehicle after Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Unfortunately, most of his follow-up films were on a par with the disastrous Nothing but Trouble (1990) and Delirious (1992). At the same time, Candy's leading role in Only the Lonely (1991) and his supporting performance in JFK (1992) proved that a major talent was being squandered by the film industry. Candy was as frustrated as his fans, manifesting this frustration in excessive eating, drinking, and smoking. The actor's superlative seriocomic turn as a disgraced Olympic star in Cool Runnings (1993), which Candy also co-produced, seemed to point toward a career upswing. But while filming Wagons East in Mexico, 43-year-old John Candy suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep. Wagons East was released in the summer of 1994, utilizing Candy's existing footage as well as possible; it proved, sadly, an inadequate epitaph for one of film comedy's funniest and most ingratiating stars.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Played football in high school.
- First professional job was working with a children's theater group.
- Dan Aykroyd encouraged him to audition for Chicago's improv troupe Second City in the early 1970s.
- His children, Jennifer and Chris, appeared with him on the animated series Camp Candy.
- Breakthrough film role came in 1984's Splash opposite Tom Hanks.
- Became a part owner of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts in 1991 along with Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall.
- Died of a heart attack in his sleep while filming Wagons East in 1994.