Bobsled coach, dodgy uncle, shower curtain ring salesman, Mawg (half-man, half-dog) — the great John Candy could truly do it all. So in an effort to honor the late great star, we have assembled an assortment of pop-culture trivia, which we now humbly present in tribute to this comedy icon…
His ‘Vacation’ Character Originated on a Canadian Kid’ s Show
Candy’s early career involved a lot of minor roles in Canadian movies and TV shows — one of which was a children’s sitcom called Coming Up Rosie, also featuring Dan Aykroyd, about “the misadventures of offbeat tenants in an office building.” Candy’s character was a bumbling security guard named Wally Wypyzypychwk, which he used as the basis for his character in National Lampoon's Vacation.
He Hosted His Own Travel Show
In 1980, Candy hosted a short-lived NBC travel program Roadshow, in which he traveled the country in a trailer. Reportedly, it was originally developed as a potential replacement for Saturday Night Live, which was struggling with a new cast at the time.
He Was Paid Shit For ‘Home Alone’
Candy took the Home Alone gig as a favor to John Hughes, refusing to accept a percentage of the film’s profits as payment (who knew?), with his paycheck ending up being just $414. Even worse, his scenes were filmed in a “concentrated 22-hour stint” surrounded by polka musicians. In other words: Hell.
He Did A Killer Orson Welles Impression
Candy isn’t typically known for his impressions, but long before Pinky and the Brain mined similar material, Candy did a spot-on Orson Welles on SCTV and the Billy Crystal Comedy Hour.
He Co-Owned A CFL Team With Wayne Gretzky
If you weren’t a fan of Canadian football in the 1990s, you might not be aware that Candy and the Great One himself became co-owners of the Toronto Argonauts. Unfortunately, the third partner on the deal was reportedly “mired in corruption.”
He Was Conned Into Overpaying for a Dog
In 1992, Candy sued a dog trainer for allegedly selling him a German shepherd for a whopping $19,000, when he later learned that “German shepherds of similar pedigree sell for $1,500 to $4,500.”
Jack Nicholson Got Him Hammered During the Making of ‘Splash’
According to Ron Howard, one day during the making of Splash, Candy showed up uncharacteristically late, still drunk from a night of no sleep. The reason? Jack Nicholson spotted him in a bar the night before, recognized the young comic, and just kept buying him drinks.
He Nearly Appeared in ‘Ghostbusters‘ (With a German accent)
Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman first offered the part of nebbish accountant Louis Tully to Candy, who they originally had written it for. Candy really wanted to do the role with a German accent, which according to Reitman, led to an “uncomfortable conversation,” with Candy ultimately turning it down. Louis, of course, was played by Candy‘s old SCTV buddy Rick Moranis.
He Tried to Get Out of a Famous ‘Stripes’ Scene
Candy reportedly felt "degraded" at the prospect of shooting the mud-wrestling scene in Stripes and would phone up his pals in Toronto late at night to express his worries. “I was fighting right up to the end to get out of it,” he told one friend.
He Helped Out Bill Pullman on the Set of ‘Spaceballs’
Pullman wrote a piece for The New York Times detailing the kindness and generosity shown to him by Candy during the making of Spaceballs. Candy even appealed to Mel Brooks to have some of Barf’s funny lines given to Lone Star instead — much to Brooks’ consternation.
He Got Mobbed at a Hockey Game With the Director of ‘Cool Runnings’
According to Cool Runnings director Jon Turteltaub, “During production, I got to cross something off my bucket list: going to a hockey match with John Candy” — perhaps the most Canadian of all activities. Turteltaub added, “John and I left the game early so he wouldn’t get mobbed by fans, but it happened anyway. He signed every autograph he was asked for. It took us 20 minutes to walk the 30 meters out of the arena.”
He Nearly Had a Comedy Special Set on the Moon
In 1992, Candy developed a new TV special for NBC, Bram Stoker's John Candy Special, in which Candy was the “host of a show-within-a-show, supposedly telecast live from the moon.” Sadly, the deal eventually fell apart.
His ‘Planes, Trains And Automobiles’ Paperback Was A Real Book
Notably, Candy’s character Del Griffith is reading a lurid novel entitled The Canadian Mounted. Apparently, it was an obscure but real book, and some of the pages have been shared online by fans.
He Was a Marvel Comics Character
He Gave A Young Conan O’Brien Advice
As O’Brien told Howard Stern, he was a major fan of Candy growing up and got to meet him when he visited Harvard. “He was everything I wanted him to be,” O’Brien said. Before Candy left, O’Brien told him that he was thinking about trying comedy, at which point Candy gave him a piece of advice: “You don’t try comedy – you do it, or you don’t do it,” which O’Brien says hit him “very powerfully” and helped inform his later career.
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