Remembering John Candy Who Lives on Through His Movies

I’ll never forget that day.

It was March 4, 1994. My parents and I were returning to Arborg from Winnipeg after visiting the orthodontist and Suzy Shier. We’d just passed Arnes on Hwy 8N.

My dad turned up the radio. It was 5:30 p.m. Time for the news he’d missed while we were shopping and I was having my mouth stretched triple its size.

The mood in the car changed in an instant.

“What!” said dad, and he turned up the volume. Dad looked into the car’s rear view mirror at me. “John Candy died.”

Still buckled in, I leaned over the front centre console and listened to the report. My mom said, “Yoy, so young.”

Candy died of a heart attack while shooting a film in Mexico. He was only 43. Today marks 25 years since we lost the comedic actor whose charming characters, such as Buck Russell and Chet Ripley, became legendary.

But on March 4, 1994, my dad sped home – hoping to make it in time for the 6 p.m. news. The times before Facebook and Twitter, my parents called my aunt and uncle. We watched the news coverage. It were as though the three of us were in denial.

And that night, one of a handful of stations Arborg received – MTN – had their Friday Primetime Movie.

Two movies were chosen and voted on by the viewers. That week, two John Candy movies were up against each other.

Delirious won.

MTN news anchor, Tom Negovan, had the daunting task of reminding the audience the movie wasn’t planned, it was a coincidence, and updating people on information about Candy’s death as more news developed.

Until that night, I’d never watched Delirious – and I liked the movie.  The concept. The idea. The soap opera spin. Candy made his character, Jack Gable, relatable.

And that’s what made Candy successful and lovable. He had an ability to portray characters into someone you wanted as a friend. Such as Harry from Who’s Harry Crumb. He reminded you of things people would try to do in real life. Such as eating the 96 ounce steak in The Great Outdoors? The goofy, the silly, and the hilarious.

Though Candy’s life was short, he left a legacy.

I grew up watching John Candy movies, and my favourites are Uncle Buck and The Great Outdoors. But – now – when the credits roll, I cry.

I don’t know if Candy knew how much he was adored by the public. I was 17 years old when he died, and when I watch his movies I feel 17 again. As though time never stopped.

Even though for Candy, it did.