(Photo: George Rose/Getty Images)
John Candy was one of Canada's greatest comedic exports, an actor who dominated many of the biggest comedy films of the 1980s and 1990s. When he died of a heart attack on March 4, 1994 — 20 years ago today — Candy was in the middle of filming a movie in Mexico, still entirely on top of his game.
Candy rose to fame in the early 1980s as a performer at Second City in Toronto, and later as part of SCTV. There, he created memorable characters like Mr. Science and Babe Ruth, as well as polka superstar Yosh Shmenge (part of a fictional polka duo with his brother Stan, played by Eugene Levy).
From SCTV, Candy landed small roles in National Lampoon's Vacation and Stripes (both written by SCTV alum Harold Ramis), and in 1984 landed his breakout role as Tom Hanks's brother in Splash. He'd go on to star in dozens of movies, including Spaceballs, Home Alone, Uncle Buck and Cool Runnings.
He also branched out into professional sports, briefly owning the Toronto Argonauts with Wayne Gretzky in the early 1990s.
We'll miss John Candy for everything he gave to comedy. Luckily, many of his most famous roles have stood the test of time and are still incredibly funny today. On tonight's episode of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, Mr. D's Gerry Dee will offer a sincere tribute to Candy. Tune in to CBC at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to catch it.
And below, you'll find a few of his best on-screen moments:
Here's Candy in Mel Brooks's classic Spaceballs, in which he played Barf the MOG (half man, half dog)
Here he is first meeting Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
One of Candy's most indelible characters was Yosh Shmenge of the Shmenge Brothers. Here's a clip from the mockumentary The Last Polka that reunited Candy with Eugene Levy and much of the SCTV cast.
Candy as Mr. Science, one of his most memorable SCTV characters.
Candy was also a brilliant impersonator. Here he is as Orson Welles on the Billy Crystal Comedy Hour in 1982.
And finally, Candy playing erstwhile Canadian invader Sheriff Bud Boomer in Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon: