5 Things You Didn't Know About John Candy

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The world hasn't been quite as funny since we lost John Candy in 1994. Let's remember the star of great comedies like Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles by taking a look at five things you may not have known about Candy.

1. He Was Almost a Ghostbuster

By 1983, Candy's national celebrity had grown to the point that he could command $350,000 per movie. Director Ivan Reitman, who had worked with Candy on Stripes, approached the comedian about appearing in his next film, Ghostbusters. Candy's old pals Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had supposedly written the Louis Tully role in the script specifically for him, but Candy balked at taking a pay cut from his normal $350,000 fee. The role ended up going to Rick Moranis instead.

Candy may have refused to appear in the film, but he did find a small footnote in Ghostbusters lore. He made an appearance in the video for Ray Parker Jr.'s chart-topping theme song for the film. See if you can spot him. (Fair warning: It's not exactly Where's Waldo? difficult.)

2. He Was an Argonaut

In 1991, then-owner of the Los Angeles Kings Bruce McNall purchased the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League with some financial help from star Kings center Wayne Gretzky. According to Martin Knelman's biography Laughing on the Outside: The Life of John Candy, Candy called his buddy McNall to congratulate him on the purchase.

McNall didn't just accept Candy's good wishes, though. Candy later reminisced that McNall said, "I want you to be involved. Get out your checkbook." Just like that, Candy became part owner of a CFL franchise. The new ownership group then put up the funds to lure Heisman Trophy winner runner-up Raghib "Rocket" Ismail away from the NFL and onto the Argos' roster.

3. He Indirectly Helped Build Joe Montana's Legend

Owning a CFL team isn't Candy's only oddball spot in football history. He also played a minor but significant role in Joe Montana's career.

Montana cemented his "Joe Cool" persona at the tail end of the Super Bowl XXIII when his San Francisco 49ers were trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 with a little over three minutes left to play. The Niners' offense was more than a little tense before it took the field to attempt to salvage the game, but Montana figured out a way to calm his guys down. He strolled over to right tackle Harrison Barton and said, "There, in the stands, standing near the exit ramp... isn't that John Candy?"

Indeed it was. According to Montana's teammates, the QB's bit of calm stargazing at a tight moment really helped loosen them up. They marched down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown when Montana rifled a throw to receiver John Taylor. Candy probably deserved - but never got - at least a Super Bowl ring for his help.

4. He Was Part of a Stacked Comedy Draft Class


Every comedy fan knows that Chicago's venerable The Second City has long been one of the greatest hotbeds of laugh-worthy talent. The class of comedians that Candy joined the troupe with in 1972 has to have been among the best ever, though. Candy, then a Kleenex salesman for Kimberly Clark, auditioned on the very same day as Dan Aykroyd in 1973 and immediately made the jump to the Chicago mainstage where he joined Bill Murray. Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and Gilda Radner also joined up with the Second City around the same time.

5. He Wasn't Big on Interviews

Candy may have been a garrulous funnyman on stage, but he was extremely media-shy when the cameras weren't on. According to a 1986 Los Angeles Times profile, Candy long refused all interview requests, even when he was starring in big-budget feature films that needed promoting.

Eventually he relented and explained his shyness with the press. He told the LA Times, "I think the real reason I hate to do interviews is because I think I'm boring. I just always thought there were more important things to talk about than myself. Also I get nervous. When I did a few interviews several years ago, there were a few things said about me that I was uncomfortable with. I felt I'd put my foot in my mouth. So it's an awkward situation."

If there's someone you'd like to see profiled in a future edition of '5 Things You Didn't Know About...,' leave us a comment. You can read the previous installments here.

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May 13, 2011 - 5:18am
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