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The Tragic Death of John Candy

The Death of John Candy"Something Bad is Going to Happen in Mexico"

John Franklin Candy was born on October 31, 1950 in New Market, Ontario, Canada to Sidney James Candy And Evangeline Candy. Within five years of his birth, John's father would die leaving his mother, aunt and grandparents to raise him.

Growing up, John would play football and hockey for his Catholic High School teams but an injury would send him to the sidelines and allow him to concentrate on his real love, comedic acting. Although he loved The Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, and Alec Guiness, Jackie Gleason and Oliver Hardy were his idols.

By the time he was a high school junior, John had given up sports and was acting in school plays. He would continue to hone his acting skills at Toronto's Centennial Community College and then eventually land a job as a member of a children's theater company. After a few menial gigs on Canadian TV, John would eventually meet Dan Aykroyd, another struggling young comedic actor. It was Dan who suggested the two try out for Chicago's renowned Second City improvisational-comedy troupe, which was opening a Toronto branch. John was deemed so good he was asked to join the main company in Chicago, which boasted such members as Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and Bill Murray. Dan Aykroyd would eventually join the group.

After his stint on Second City Television which was cancelled in 1983, John would go on to star in numerous Hollywood movies including as a parole officer in 1980's Blues Brothers. Candy would garner his first starring role in 1983 in Going Berserk, which also featured several other SCTV members. Although this film was a little known bust, it would eventually lead to the role that would put him on the Hollywood map, 1984's Splash starring as Tom Hanks' younger brother. From there it was all uphill and Candy would star in such movies as Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Spaceballs, Brewster's Millions, Uncle Buck, and Cool Runnings.

In addition to his active movie career, Candy found time to host a radio show and a couple of kid's TV programs. An avid sports nut, Candy would even find time to become part owner of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 1991.

John was always aware of his ever ballooning weight and even feared dying from a heart attack, which claimed the life of his father when John was a young lad. John often found himself on crash diets, and even joined gyms on many occasions. The diets were always short-lived however, and John would spring back to his natural cruising weight of 325 pounds.

John CandyDecember of 1993 would find John on location in Durango, Mexico (about 100 miles northwest of Mexico City), filming the Western spoof Wagons East! Shortly before leaving for Durango, John would tell actress Catherine O'Hara that he feared going to Mexico because he felt something bad was going to happen there. He had been away from his family all but three weeks over the last year and John vowed this would be his last film. Little did he know the prophetic nature of his words.

Against the advice of his doctors, John would allow his girth to swell to 375 pounds with a waistline of 59 inches. He would bring his own chef to the Durango set vowing that he'd eat healthy, but he soon fell back into his old unhealthy eating habits. The on-site crew encountered problems finding a horse that could support his weight during the film's riding scenes. John's excessive weight would also be the source of pain in his hip joints that were deteriorating due to his weight.

On March 3, 1994 John Candy was going through a scene of crashing through tables. They had to shoot the scene several times and everyone, including John was exhausted from the 80+ degree heat that day. At about 10:00 that evening Candy would complete his work and finally return to his $3,000/month room at Camino del Perque. John would eat a nice spaghetti dinner, shower, change into his bathrobe and speak briefly with the night watchman. The exact words he had with the watchman were: "I'm so tired. All I want to do is go home and be with my family." John would have only two more scenes to shoot before he could return to California in a few days.

Camino del Perque in Durango, MexicoAt 8:00 am the next morning (March 4), Candy's bodyguard Gustave Populus called the star when he had not shown up. When there was no reply, he went into room 120 after knocking on the door for several minutes. When he opened the door, he found Candy lying half-on, half-off the bed. His body was in such a position to imply that he had tried to arise but had fallen back down. There were no signs of drugs or alcohol in the room.

By 1:00 pm on March 4, the state of Durango medical examiner would arrive and determine that John had died between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 am. There would not be an autopsy at the request his John's wife, Rosemary Margaret Hobor. Once the official investigation was over, last rites were administered and at 4:00pm an ambulance would take John's body away.

John Candy's funeral would be held on March 21, 1994, at St. Martin's of Tours Church in LA. The church was near his home at 1630 Mandeville Canyon. Among those attending his funeral would be Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, and Director Harold Ramis. Candy's body would be interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, in Room 7, Block 1 of the mausoleum. John's estate would be valued at around $20 million.

Wagons East would be released posthumously in August of 1994 after John Candy had been digitally inserted into several of the final scenes that he had not yet shot. The film was a flop. John was 43 years old.


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More John Candy Stuff:

John Candy Whidden Row
Whidden Row dormitory where John Candy stayed while attending McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Whidden Hall was the scene of very high spirited activities in the 1960s and is purported to be a possible source of inspiration for the movie Animal House. There is, however, room for debate as Ivan Reitman, the movie's producer, had resided in Matthews Hall, another residence on campus.

 

John Candy Brewster's Millions
John Candy in Brewster's Millions.

 

John Candy Loading body
Cargo handlers loading Candy's body up onto the plane for the trip back to the States.

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