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Remembering John Candy

Candy_stamp_2John Candy, who would have been 57 today, appeared in more than 40 movies, almost all of them bad. Yet he was one of the most beloved movie actors when he died in 1994 at the age of 43, on the Mexican set of another turkey. The credits of that movie, the western spoof Wagons East, list “John Candy’s wrangler.” I can only hope that they meant to credit the wrangler for Candy’s horse: given that his death from a heart attack was brought on by his size—6’2” tall and well over 300 pounds—it’s an unfortunately tasteless error.

Candy initially endeared himself to classic movie buffs as part of the cast of “SCTV.” He did hilarious impersonations of such stars as …

Orson Welles, Richard Burton, Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers, Luciano Pavarotti, Don Rickles, Curly Howard, Jackie Gleason, Tom Selleck, Ed Asner, and Hervé Villechaize. He also played “Dr. Tongue,” star of a series of fifth-rate 3-D horror movies (the thought of him and co-star Eugene Levy pushing plates of flapjacks back and forth at the camera for the effects of “Dr. Tongue’s 3-D House of Pancakes” makes me laugh out loud).

When he got into movies, Candy benefited from his association with so many graduates of Toronto’s Second City comedy club who went on to “Saturday Night Live”: when they went into movies, they loved to give him supporting parts, even at the risk of him stealing the film (his Private Ox is the funniest thing about Stripes).

His breakthrough role was as Tom Hanks’ sleazy yet loveable brother in the huge hit Splash! After that he seems to have seldom turned down a script, though he usually was able to bring something off center to even the dullest comedy.

But let’s just remember his good movies. When you think of John Candy,which is the role that brings a smile to your face?

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