Whether you remember him as Uncle Buck, Barf, Del Griffith, or Irv Blitzer, John Candy remains one of the most beloved comedians of the 1980s and '90s. His turns in Uncle Buck, Spaceballs, Splash, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles cemented his legacy as a cherub-cheeked, larger-than-life figure - and, according to his co-stars, that's pretty much how he was in real life.
In the 21st century, audiences have learned many sordid details about their favorite performers, forcing us to reconsider their place in entertainment history. Candy, thankfully, isn't among them. While the actor and comedian wasn't without flaws, his co-stars all agree that he was a genuinely sweet person who loved to make people laugh. These are some of our favorite stories about John Candy. Vote up the ones that make you smile.
- Photo: Planes, Trains and Automobiles / Paramount Pictures
In Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever, author Nick de Semlyen interviewed Steve Martin on the making of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Martin said he knew Candy would be a great co-star. “We’d look into each other’s eyes and it felt good together,” the actor said. “We had great timing.”
During filming, Candy added a line to his character's most emotional moment. De Semlyen writes:
Martin was particularly impressed by one bit of improv by his co-star: During the scene where Del reveals that his wife has died and explains that’s why he attaches himself to people, Candy added the line, “But this time I couldn’t let go.” Long after Candy’s death, Martin would get a tear in his eye remembering it.
- Photo: Spaceballs / MGM23,600 VOTES
In 2017, actor Bill Pullman wrote a piece for The New York Times on how John Candy befriended him on the set of his first big Hollywood feature, Spaceballs. Prior to this 1987 film, Pullman had only appeared in a small role in one film. Pullman writes that Candy, for reasons unknown to him, watched over him during the production.
Candy introduced himself to Pullman by inviting him to eat lunch with him, and the routine continued sporadically during filming. However, the moment that truly touched him occurred during a major scene with writer/director/actor Mel Brooks. Pullman writes:
John was feeling that, as scripted, most of the funny lines were being given to Barf, and he suggested I might take one of the wisecracks. A certain silence suddenly dominated the sound stage. Mel paused...
“You think Pullman can make the line funny? Pullman? O.K. Back to one.”
We all went back to our start marks and ran through the three-minute sequence, crew and cast making for a lot of moving parts. After a silence following “Cut,” we heard Mel say: “O.K. We are cutting that line. Back to one.”
Later I was disappointed that I had allowed Mel’s snap to fill me with shame and frustration. In the moment, as we all reset for another take, I must have looked like I was stewing.
I felt the arm of the Mog drape around my shoulders. John leaned in. “Pullman, how about another doughnut?” He continued: “You’d better not look so red right now. And don’t go blue on me later.”
His chuckle and wink calmed me down. I did eventually manage to recalibrate. And the next day, Mel met me with a hug.
I have never forgotten John Candy’s generosity. He showed me how to be a gentle leader. He lightened my load.
He had my back.
- Photo: Splash / Buena Vista Distribution31,443 VOTES
During a 2016 retrospective on the movie Splash, star Daryl Hannah gushed about Candy's kindness and humor. "I just absolutely adored him," she told journalist Phil de Semlyen. "He was just so full of heart and soul, and so hilarious. Tears-coming-out-of-your-eyes, pee-your-pants hilarious.”
De Semlyen adds:
The pair became firm friends on set, later planning a comedy together that was cut tragically short by Candy’s death, and even formed an unlikely Rod-Hull-and-Emu-like on-set dynamic. "I used to sit on his lap all the time and he would talk for me and I'd mime what he was saying like a ventriloquist doll. He'd answer questions for me in interviews."
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Rawle D. Lewis played Junior Bevil in 1993's Cool Runnings. In an interview with TheThings, he said John Candy knew they had made a genuine hit:
John Candy, at one point we were invited to his room and we were all listening to music, reggae and stuff [laughs], and he said, "Hey listen, I’m from Canada. I was there. They don’t know what they have on their hands. This thing’s going to be huge." [...] He said, "But no one gets it because no one gets how big this is going to be." I remember listening to him and going, "I knew I wasn’t crazy. I feel the same way."
- Photo: Home Alone / 20th Century Fox
In an interview with The Hamilton Spectator, actress Catherine O'Hara said Candy loved interacting with his fans, and was "just as wonderful and fun and sweet and great as you would imagine he would be."
He could also be playful, and if fans "started doing some little bit with him, he would pick up on it and throw something back to them." Essentially, the actor participated in these interactions just as he would with professional performers. "But he would also treat them as an equal," O'Hara added.
- Photo: Stripes / Columbia Pictures61,913 VOTES
Speaking to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Bill Murray reflected on getting his start in show business by joining Second City Chicago, a comedy club and improvisational troupe. Murray and Candy came up during the same time in the 1970s:
John Candy and I started the same week, and the other actors [there] hated us. [...] He and I improvised together every night because they didn’t want to have anything to do with us. We did Stripes together  and he was really great to work with. He was a real good guy.