March 4, 1994, Durango, Mexico. Actor John Candy is found dead, half-out of bed, soon before finishing the conclusion of his last film “Wagons East”. Cause of death: heart attack. The movie was completed using a double. Although his acting was not affected by his health or whatever was troubling him, a special horse was needed to hold him: his weight exceeded 300 pounds.
John’s last filmed scene is when he’s hired as a wagon-master. It was so effective, his co-star Richard Lewis wrote him a note complimenting him on it. It is, indeed, a funny scene which ends with his co-stars telling him they leave at the break of dawn. Candy replies, “Noon-ish.”
Drugs (meaning cocaine) did not kill John Candy who stopped using it after the death of friend John Belushi in 1982. But, he couldn’t stop his excess smoking, drinking and binge eating. On the set of “Wagons East”, he was seen eating entire chickens and pizza by himself.
At age 43, Candy anticipated and at the same time, dreaded his fatal heart attack – the same thing that killed his father when he was only five.
In 1991, “JFK” and “Only the Lonely” were dramatic departures for the actor.
“Only the Lonely” was a bittersweet love story co-starring Ally Sheedy (as a make-up artist for the dead.) It wasn’t the hit he’d hoped for. That’s too bad because it tapped into the melancholic soul he was at heart.
For me, the best of John Candy were his years on “SCTV” (1976-1983), a satire on television and motion pictures.
Now on DVD, SCTV is well worth watching.
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