In the 80s, John Candy was one of the most popular actors in Hollywood, he had a real screen presence, and as soon as he was on screen you instantly smiled as you knew that something good was going to happen.
Candy had perfect comedy timing and proved he could work with the best Hollywood had to offer, with some fantastic screen pairings alongside greats like Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd.
Let’s take a look back at this Hollywood funny man with some facts about John Candy you may not have known…
20. John Candy was his actual name
Many actors will change their name when going in to Hollywood, or will take on a pseudonym for their acting careers.
However, Candy was born John Franklin Candy and he decided to roll with it.
The name is actually quite fitting for a Hollywood star and in keeping with his fun, playful demeanour.
Candy was born to parents James and Evangeline Candy and was raised in a working-class, Roman Catholic household.
His father was of Scottish and English descent, whilst his mother had Polish and Ukrainian roots.
19. He passed his talent on to his children
Candy met his wife, Rosemary, in 1979 after meeting on a blind date.
Together the couple had two children, Jennifer and Christopher Candy, born in 1980 and 1984 respectively.
Both of his kids followed in Candy’s footsteps, with Jennifer making a name for herself as an actor and producer, perhaps best known for In Vino and Liv and Maddie.
Her brother, Chris, is also an actor and the pair actually worked together on Where’s This Party?
They have both spoken openly about the impact of their father’s life and death.
18. He was larger than life
It is clear from his work that John Candy was a large actor, but sometimes it’s hard to get a sense of scale on the screen.
Candy actually weighed in excess of 300 pounds (or 21 stone) for most of his adult life.
He also had a rather strapping physique, standing at 6″2′.
Candy was rather sensitive about his size, and tried to lose weight and ditch his smoking habit in the late nineties.
He was also hyper-aware of his family’s history of heart attacks at a young age, with his father passing away at the age of just 35.
17. He turned down Saturday Night Live
For much of his acting career, Candy was heavily sought after by Saturday Night Live.
However, he turned down repeated offers due to his devotion to his fellow SCTV members who he respected greatly.
Despite this, Candy was set to host a one-off episode of the show in 1985.
He actually got so far as to shoot a promo for it, alongside Eugene Levy and Billy Crystal.
However, the episode never actually went ahead due to a writers’ strike.
16. He appeared in films with SNL stars more than any other actor
Candy appeared in more movies alongside Saturday Night Live stars than any other actor who was not a member themselves of SNL at the time.
At the time of his death, had appeared in ten films alongside the stars of the show.
However, this has since been surpassed by Nick Swardson, who as of 2016 had appeared in 18 movies with SNL cast members.
Candy actually made two appearances on the show, whilst still taking part in SCTV.
He was also described as ‘the most-burned potential host’, due to him being asked to take part several times before plans fell through.
15. He turned down the Rick Moranis role in Ghostbusters
Candy was offered the role of Louis Tully in Ghostbusters alongside Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.
However, he turned the role down due to conflict over how the character would be portrayed.
Instead, the role was given to his SCTV colleague Rick Moranis.
Candy still managed to be involved in the film, albeit in a minor way.
He was amongst the many celebs who can be seen chanting ‘ghostbusters’ in the official music video for Ray Parker’s hit single.
14. He made more John Hughes movies than any other actor
Candy appeared in more John Hughes films that any other actor, starring or having cameos in seven of his movies.
He appeared in National Lampoon’s Vacation and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, where he co-starred with his good friend Steve Martin.
He also had a cameo role in She’s Having a Baby in 1988.
Of course, Candy is perhaps best known for playing the title character in Uncle Buck, co-starring with Macaulay Culkin.
This wasn’t the first time he had worked with Culkin, as he also appeared in Home Alone, alongside his best friend Catherine O’Hara.
13. His best friends included Steve Martin and Catherine O’Hara
Candy had many good friends in Hollywood, including Steve Martin, Eugene Levy to name just a few.
He often referred to Katherine O’Hara as his closest friend, and the pair would work together on several projects including Home Alone.
Other actors who had worked with Candy have praised his incredible talents and business-minded approach.
They would also talk of how much fun Candy was on set, recalling times they broke down in laughter as Candy would make a face or something hilarious from behind the camera.
Amy Madigan, who worked with Candy on Uncle Buck, commented that ‘he was really just an incredibly generous person’.
12. He predicted his own death
According to Catherine O’Hara, Candy contacted her on his way to Mexico to film Wagons East saying he felt something terrible was going to happen in Mexico.
After a late-night meal of lasagne, Candy turned in for the night and sadly would never wake up.
He is presumed to have suffered a heart attack whilst sleeping, although no autopsy took place to confirm this.
As well as his hefty weight, Candy was a heavy drinker and smoker until just a few months prior to his death.
He was also said to be under a significant amount of stress during the filming of Wagons East, which may have been further contributed.
11. His funeral was a Hollywood who’s who
Candy’s funeral was packed with friends and family including many Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara and Dan Aykroyd, who delivered the eulogy.
The service was held at a Catholic church in Los Angeles, which was at full capacity during the funeral.
His crypt was located just above fellow actor Fred MacMurray.
A special memorial for Candy was broadcast across Canada on March 18th, 1994, and was viewed by millions.
The memorial was produced by the improvisation troupe he had previously been a part of.
10. He was a keen sports enthusiast
Back in 1089, Candy attended the legendary Super Bowl XXIII.
The game was between the Bengals and the 49ers, and was a huge deal at the time.
As legend has it, towards the end of the game, Joe Montana turned to tackle Harris Barton and spotted a familiar face in the stands.
“Hey, look over there,” he said, “is that John Candy?’.
Indeed, it was in fact John Candy, and the moment made sporting history.
9. Roads were closed in his honour
John Candy was clearly loved by all that knew him, and by many who didn’t.
This was nowhere more apparent than at his funeral, when Eugene Levy was following the procession heading to the cemetery.
He soon noticed the lack of traffic on the 405 freeway, and that police officers were holding traffic.
After asking an officer what was going on, he was informed that the LAPD had made the unusual decision to close the road.
The only time this has happened previously was in honour of the president and the pope.
8. He didn’t only play the funny man
After a spat of highly successful movies in the 1980s, Candy’s career was in decline.
He decided that in order to revive it, he would try his hand at some more serious roles, and was cast in JFK in 1991.
Candy’s portrayal of Dean Andrews was critically acclaimed, and believed by many to be his best work.
In the movie, the sheen of sweat on Candy’s face is noticeable, and he revealed that this was in fact a genuine reaction.
This was because he was so nervous at the prospect of working alongside high-brow actors such as Donald Sutherland and Gary Oldman.
7. He plays an annoying passenger in two movies
Candy appears in two films in which he gets on the nerves of the passengers surrounding him.
These movies were Volunteers and, of course, Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
In both films, he can be seen in the window seat on the right side of the plane, with an annoyed fellow passenger located to his left.
He also bursts into spontaneous song in both films, leading everyone in rousing renditions of Puff the Magic Dragon and The Flintstones.
We don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot more exciting than any regular flight!
6. There was strange circumstances surrounding his death
The night before their father’s death, Candy’s children spoke to him over the phone.
His daughter, Jen, recalls being distracted with homework and was not fully engaged in the conversation, telling her father she loved him before hanging up.
Jen and her brother, Chris, were at Mass where they were informed of the heartbreaking news, both breaking down into floods of tears.
On the day of his death, the children noticed that the giant amethyst their father had given them was shattered into pieces.
They were comforted by their mother, who told them it was their father’s way of saying goodbye.
5. He was a huge animal lover
Although Candy was devoted to his family, he also had a passion for animals.
He would constantly bring home strays, and was a regular at the local pet shelter.
This was despite the fact that his wife was actually allergic to animals. What a trooper!
Candy also owned a farm, where he kept a variety of cows.
The family also cared for four Clydesdale horses, named Peaches, Cream, Uncle Buck and Harry Crumb.
4. He loved to help people
I think we can all firmly agree that Candy helped people with his hilarious onscreen appearances alone.
However, Candy wanted to take this further, by helping people in real need, which he felt was his duty.
According to his daughter, he was constantly working with some sort of charity, including Make a Wish and Paediatric AIDS Foundation.
“He liked to make people laugh and feel good,” explained his daughter.
In particular, he loved to work with children, and his Uncle Buck co-stars would remark on how comfortable Candy was around kids, and vice versa.
3. He worked hard to perfect his roles
As previously mentioned, Candy took on the role of Dean Andrews in JFK.
This was in an attempt to branch out and play a more serious character.
His children took note of his dedication to the film, recalling the time they were having a water fight when he yelled at them for being too loud.
He even had a dialect coach in an attempt to perfect the accent.
He worked day and night on the script, determined to portray the character to the best of his ability.
2. He rarely watched his own work
Some actors revel in their roles and love to watch their characters’ lives play out onscreen, whilst others are more reserved in their approach.
Candy definitely seems to fall into the latter of these categories.
Candy had great respect for the film industry, and loved working with such talented professionals.
However, he was often reluctant to view the final product, despite the passion he had invested in it.
He would even refuse to attend premieres, instead sending his wife along and asking her to report back on the scenes that received the most laughs.
1. He owned a football team
As well as an actor, Candy was also regarded as a successful businessman.
In 1991, he became a shareholder of the iconic football team, the Toronto Argonauts.
As a Canadian himself, this had been a dream of Candy’s since he was a child.
The high point of this venture saw the team winning the 1991 Grey Cup, bringing victory to the city.
Sadly, after this, the group’s popularity began to wane, and the team was sold off in 1994.