John Candy Biography: A Life Of Laughs

Almost larger than life, big man John Candy was considered one of the most huggable in all of Hollywood. Read a biography about this down-to-earth, talented man whose life was cut too short.

John Franklin Candy was born in Toronto, Canada, October 31, 1950. Candy grew up in Scarborough, Canada, where he was known as an intelligent student and talented football player at Neil McNeil high school. After graduation, Candy enrolled in a local community college, where he took a handful of drama courses and discovered his passion for comedy and acting.

While a student, Candy auditioned for as many bit parts as his time would allow. After several years of study, he found a position with the Children's Theater in Ontario, and a small offering of walk-on roles in local television commercials and small budget Canadian films. Candy's first ever television performance was at CBC's Toronto headquarters, where he appeared in the children's classics as "Coming Up Rosie" and later in "Dr. Zonk and the Zunkins."

In 1977, at the age of 27, John was offered a position with Second City, a comedic improvisational team based in Chicago. He eagerly accepted, moving to Illinois, and becoming a regular performer, comedian and writer for the popular television show, SCTV, also hosted by the group. Candy became a favorite at the Chicago theatre, on Toronto stages and as a performer with SCTV. During this same time, Candy auditioned for a role beside John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the soon-to-be famous film, "The Blues Brothers." He earned the part, and starred in his first major film, playing Burton Mercer. By 1981, Candy had won two Emmy's for his writing work with the show SCTV, appeared in the movie "Stripes" and "Heavy Metal," and was ready for bigger things.

Candy put his comedy routines aside and began to concentrate on his acting. In 1984, he would make a name for himself playing opposite Tom Hanks in the super-smash-hit, "Splash." During the ten years that followed, Candy starred in thirty-four movies, including "Cool Runnings," "Only The Lonely," "JKF," "Uncle Buck," and "Home Alone." Until his death in 1994, John Candy worked tirelessly, appearing in at least one film a year between 1974-1991.

At the height of his career, Candy was 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighed more than 250 pounds. Even though the sight of him warmed audiences to him and he was labeled "the most huggable in all of Hollywood," Candy talked frequently about his struggle with weight.

Candy invested his money wisely and passionately. An active sports fan, he became co-owner of his favorite boyhood Canadian Football team, the Toronto Argonauts. The Argonauts won the Grey Cup during Candy's first year of ownership, and Candy was known as a tireless worker and fan, who operated largely behind the scenes. He also opened a chain of blues restaurants with former "Blues Brothers" star, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's brother, Jim. Candy also studied acting from behind the scenes, making his directorial debut with Fox Network's "Hostage For A Day."

John Candy died unexpectedly of a heart attack March 4, 1994, while filming on location is Durango, Mexico. He was 44 years old. His funeral, held at St. Michael's Cathedral, was broadcast live on TV in Canada. Candy is survived by his wife, Rose, and two children, Jennifer and Christopher. Candy's final movies, "Wagons East" and "Canadian Bacon" were released after his death.

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