Sunday, October 31, 2010

In Memoriam: John Candy

In the all-too-brief 15 years that spanned the career of John Candy, it can be safely said that he made no enemies, but only friends; and while it looked, a few years ago, like his memory might fade from the public consciousness altogether, the advent of DVDs means that much of his work has been re-released and is enjoying something of a renaissance...

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1950, John Candy got his start with Toronto's famed improve theatre troupe, The Second City; while there he also appeared in many low- or no-budget films, as well as small (usually uncredited) roles in larger films, such as Class of '44. The characters he developed at Second City became mainstays of that sketch comedy alternate universe Second City Television (SCTV).

As the 80s progressed, so did Candy's career... An appearance in 1979's Steven Spielberg comedy 1941 soon led to greater and greater roles in films like The Blues Brothers, Stripes, and National Lampoon's Vacation. While his role in Ghostbusters ultimately went to fellow SCTV alum Rick Moranis owing to a clash over artistic differences, Candy got his big breakthrough that summer anyway, when he appeared in Splash.

From there the roles came fast and thick: Spaceballs, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Who's Harry Crumb?, and Uncle Buck to name just four; nearly devoid of ego when it came to billing, Candy had no problem alternating between leading and supporting roles, even performing the occasional cameo if it appealed to him. Despite a few critical bombs, Candy entered the 90s as both the guy audiences wanted to see, as well as the one other actors wanted to work with, which made him a rare breed...

While his weight had always been a problem, Candy had also been a heavy smoker, and the combination of the two (as well as the heart disease to which he was genetically predisposed) soon caught up with him; he died in his sleep in March 1994 while on location in Mexico shooting Wagons East!. He was 43. Candy was survived by his wife Rosemary and Jennifer and Christopher, in addition to distraught former colleagues, friends, and fans the world over.
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