John Candy's death at 43 was a massive shock to the fans of a comedian whose personality was larger than life.
On March 4, 1994, while on set in Durango, Mexico, the actor suffered a fatal heart attack. He left behind his wife, Rosemary, and two children.
The death of John Candy was a nasty surprise, but with his family history of heart diseases and binge eating, the past was bound to repeat itself.
John Candy Died Young, Like His Father
Candy was born in Toronto, Canada, on October 31, 1950. His father, Sidney James, died of heart complications when John was around five. John was raised by his mother, Evangeline, with the help of grandparents and other family members.
Young John was athletic, and he dreamed of becoming a football star. However, he earned a nasty knee injury and went on to study journalism.
During his time at McMaster University, John started acting and in 1972 became a member of Toronto's branch of The Second City.
From 1971 to 1979, John appeared on numerous Canadian tv shows and met Dan Aykroyd. while filming Coming Up Rosie (1975–78). The two appeared together in a hit movie, Blues Brothers, and were co-owners of blues clubs.
The US audience noticed the gifted Canadian, and Hollywood was ready for John. His career had a natural flow and was abruptly interrupted by the untimely death of John Candy a decade after his first big movie came out.
The Rise And Rise Of John Candy
After leaving SCTV in 1983, Candy landed a role in Splash with Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. The hit movie from 1984 showed Candy as Hanks' sleazy brother, and he was a character you loved to hate.
Brewster's Millions and Summer Rental were released in 1985, and Armed and Dangerous a year later.
In 1987, a star was born with Planes, Trains & Automobiles. This was the first but not the last movie Candy made with John Hughes. The two created another classic, Uncle Buck, in 1989.
Prior, John appeared in She's Having a Baby, The Great Outdoors with Dan Aykroyd and started and produced Who's Harry Crumb?.
Despite his talent for comedies, there was no doubt that Candy could play anyone. His cameo in Home Alone only brought this insanely popular movie greater legitimacy among evergreen comedies. Yet, the actor received less than 500 dollars.
Sadly, he never got to show his true potential, as the death of John Candy ended what could have been one of the most significant careers of his generation.
Troubles That Led To The Sudden Death Of John Candy
John Candy's death was partly due to poor genetics. But it was also his lifestyle that pushed him into an early grave.
The comedian was a heavy smoker, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not beat his weight.
His sensitive nature, desire to have a perfect family and respectable career was not a secret. John Candy was a victim of fat-shaming, which led him to obesity. Talking to People, he said:
"Sure, I'm sensitive about my weight. I don't do fat jokes. I realize I stand out, especially on TV. But I'm the one who has to look in the mirror, and after a while, it begins to eat at you."
Due to critics, he would eat even more as John was prone to binge eating in response to professional setbacks. His son, Christopher Candy, said that "he had trainers and would work at whatever the new diet was." Yet, John Candy's death resulted from poor diet and struggling with obesity during adulthood.
According to some sources, the actor smoked a pack of cigarettes per day and occasionally used cocaine. This comes as no surprise, as he was friends with John Belushi, who tragically died at 33 from an overdose.
There is a chilling tale about a curse (or two )that killed John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley. While it is certainly not the cause of John Candy's death, it is a story worth telling as it gives these amazing actors a sense of immortality.
What If A Film Script Was John Candy's Cause Of Death?
Yes, we know that John Candy's death was due to poor health and heart condition. However, do you have a better explanation for Atuk, an unfilled script associated with Candy, Belushi, Farley, Hartman?
The story of the cursed script started in 1963 when the novel The Incomparable Atuk by Canadian author Mordecai Richler was published.
Hollywood started dreaming about the adaptation in the early 80s. The idea was thrown away by the mid-90s. The movie, which would have been called Atuk, has been dubbed cursed since several actors associated with the film's development died. John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Michael O'Donoghue, Chris Farley, and Phil Hartman were among them.
Rumors of the script being cursed were dismissed in February 1999. Yet, we don't see Hollywood's leading comedians trying to make this adaptation happen.
Though it is (most likely) not the cause of John Candy's death, it is a piece of Hollywood history. Or perhaps, mythology.
While it is hard to believe that any actor died from a script, it is quite the story and not the only one.
Another Hollywood curse includes A Confederacy Of Dunces. The book by John Kennedy Toole, who killed himself at 31, was supposed to be adapted in 1982. Belushi, Candy, and Farley were all linked to this project as well.
Steven Soderbergh was asked to direct an adaptation but refused:
"I'm not prone to superstition, but that project has got a bad mojo on it."
The Aftermath Of John Candy's Death
There was nothing dark in John Candy's life, apart from what we knew when he was alive. He had a wife, Rosemary Hobor, and two children, Jennifer, born in February 1980, and a son Chris, born in September 1984.
Candy was an international treasure, and despite his short life, he appeared in 44 movies. He also had numerous projects pending. He was a charitable, animal-loving person, but he was a family man most of all.
His children reflected on John Candy's death in an interview with THR in 2016. Chris said that his costars saw John as his usual, funny self, but he saw a tired man during the last weeks of filming.
Before his death, Chris talked to his dad, and John's last words will forever remain with him. The comedian told his son, "I love you and goodnight."
Jen was 14 at the time of John Candy's death, and she also talked to their dad the night before. She was busy studying, so she ended the call abruptly, telling her dad that she loved him and "Talk to you soon."
The following day, on Friday, both were pulled out of classes. When they learned about their dad's passing, Chris and Jen almost immediately found out he had a heart attack.
Chris and Jen revealed that John met Rosemary on a blind date. Rose, a ceramicist, and abstract painter married John in 1979. She fondly remembers her husband but does not talk to the media about his passing.
The funeral was held at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Los Angeles. The family could not believe the public support they received after John Candy's death. Chris explained:
"LAPD stopped traffic and escorted us all. I still can't believe that. Whenever I feel like I lose the importance of him to people, I just remember that happened. They do that for the president."
John Candy's Death Ended A Promising Career
Just a few years before his untimely passing, Candy was working on expanding his career. He also became a minority shareholder of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts in 1991.
In the same year, he played a romantic lead in Only the Lonely with Ally Sheedy and Maureen O'Hara. Candy also showed his dramatic skills in Oliver Stone's thriller JFK.
With bigger career challenges came more stress. In the 90s, Candy was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. By the time he filmed Wagons East, he was already spent.
He wanted to grow as an actor, but harsh critics, unhealthy habits, and genetics took their toll. At the time of his death, in March 1994, John Candy weighed around 275 pounds.
A year after the larger-than-life comedian died, Canadian Bacon was released.
Amy Madigan, his costar in Uncle Buck, said that he "was really just an incredibly generous person. A real family guy. He treated everybody so equitably."
And that concludes the story of the life and death of John Candy. It was a short life, and it had numerous saddening moments. Yet, his legacy, especially classics like Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Cool Runnings, will live on.
October 31, 2020, marked the John Candy Day in Toronto.