Friday, 17 July 2020

Hercules may have been in New York, but John was in Toronto

There is an aged old debate that will crop up every now and then...

Someone on social media will state what they think is a 'rare John Candy fact' that goes something like this... "John Candy's first film role was in Hercules in New York".


I hate to give it to you straight, but usually, if I reply with "I'm so sorry you are wrong, it looks possibly like an older John, but it isn't" I get a barrage of abuse.

It's not John.

John was only twenty years of age when Hercules in New York came out in 1970. He was fresh-faced and apart from travelling to Buffalo in 1969 with his friend Jonathan O'Mara to apply for the Marines, John never left Canada until 1973 when he was accepted into Second City and went to train in Chicago. And I presume, if the title 'Hercules in New York' is anything to go by, the film was shot in New York? Just a guess.

John's first film appearance was actually The Class of '44 released in 1973, he played Pauly, only had a few seconds of screen time, but was thrilled to be involved.

So John may not have been in New York to film Hercules, however, he certainly was many times later on in his career, including filming the taxi scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Which links me nicely into my next story...

I was in New York at the end of last year. It was a complete whirlwind of a trip, I flew on a Sunday and was back in Blighty by the Tuesday! I've never been to the States before, the people were lovely, the sandwichs expensive, the pizza cheap. It was nearly Christmas, there were outdoor ice skating rings and Central Park is as lovely as you think it is.

In November I'd received an email from producer, Gideon Evans. Gideon was making a new documentary about John and wanted to pick my brains. He even asked at one stage if I would be up for an interview. I have been asked to take part in documentaries before, I turned those down, for me, I have to feel like the intention is right and I liked Gideon and where he was coming from an awful lot. So, of course, I'd be delighted to be interviewed, but seeing as he worked for NBC and was based in New York I really didn't think it would happen, just kind of a nice gesture from his side.

Days, weeks went by, I'd tried to not get my hopes up but I was still disappointed that it might not happen. Then I got the email, it arrived on a Wednesday I think, asking me to fly over that Sunday! Holy shit balls! Well, I'm not a good traveller, but I'm not passing up on that, I took Rhys as my Dumbo's Magic Feather.

Honestly, Gideon, his colleagues and NBC could not have treated us better - we had cars from the airport to a very fancy hotel, the day to look around, saw the streets where Steve Martin raced Kevin Bacon for a cab in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (before tripping over Del's trunk and losing another cab).

The following day we were chauffered to The Delamar Hotel, West Hartford, where filming would take place.  I even got to meet Valri Bromfield who I'd interviewed for Searching For Candy but never actually met previously, as she was just leaving the makeshift studio as I arrived.

Many other people I interviewed for the book are included in this new doc, including Juul Haalmeyer, Rob Salem, Dave Thomas, Rawle D Lewis and Jonathan O'Mara. It finally airs Sunday 26th July 2020 at 9pm ET on Reelz, John Candy: Behind Closed Doors. Apparently, I made the cut, so fingers crossed I've not made a fool of myself!

 As I'm in the UK I'm not sure when I'll actually get to watch it, so if you see it before me, please do drop me a line and let me know what you think. One thing is for sure, it will be filled with love and you'll probably need to get a tissue ready.

Much love to you all!

Stay safe and well,

Tracey xxxx

Monday, 6 July 2020

RIP Mr Reiner

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

A week today we lost a comedy legend, Mr Carl Reiner.

I was sad, I still am. I'm not sure I have the right to be, but I am, so there you go. I only interviewed Mr Reiner once, it was over the phone, he was lovely and his memory perfect. His hearing was the only thing that gave any clue that he was in his elder years, either that or it was my mousey voice, a bad line, or all three, but we muddled through.

Of course, I interviewed Mr Reiner about John Candy, they had worked together on Summer Rental in 1985. Candy, in his first real lead role, directed by Reiner, was a perfect combination. Believe it or not, the film was done and dusted in just three months with budget to spare - totally unheard of in Hollywood.

Reiner inspired Candy so much, not only was he working with a genius - the man behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, director of classics such as The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, he was also working with a true mensch and World War ll veteran. Reiner showed Candy the ropes of directing, so much so it was the first time Candy thought about directing for the screen himself (and he would, much later on with his directing debut, Hostage for a Day).
John Candy and Carl Reiner on the set of Summer Rental

When I spoke to Reiner, he said the first thing that struck him about Candy was how in love he was with his family. Then he commented, "When I heard he had died I couldn't believe it, he was so full of life, how could he be dead?" Well, I know Reiner was 98 years old, but I could hear myself saying that exact same phrase, I actually thought he was going to last forever. I guess the secret to a fulfilling life is happiness, love and laughter, Reiner had that in spades.

When I first tried to contact Mr Reiner for an interview I got nowhere, I tried every contact I could find, the only thing I didn't do was tweet him (he wasn't actually on twitter when I started my search - yes I looked on and off for two years). Then, just as I was about to give up I noticed he had joined Twitter and I sent him a tweet, "I'm writing a book about John Candy, please can I interview you?", no chance I thought, but at least I had exhausted all routes. Within five minutes I had a DM from Reiner himself, telling me to contact his assistant to arrange an interview. Holy shit!

Carl Reiner 
A tweet, a simple cheeky one-off tweet and I was going to be chatting to comedy royalty! Not only that, but Reiner's office also helped me get an interview with Reiner's best friend, Mr Mel Brooks! I hit the jackpot. By these two guys giving me a chance I was suddenly being taken more seriously, they didn't know me, and yet they helped me, I will be eternally grateful.

Just like John Candy, Carl Reiner will live forever.

My heart is with his family and his dear friend Mr Brooks.

RIP Carl and thanks, John will be thrilled to see you.

To you all,

I hope you are safe and well. These are some crazy times we are living through at the moment, be good to yourselves and each other.

With much love as always,
Tracey xx

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

26 Years and Counting

I'm always sad when the 4th March comes round again, it means another year without John on this planet, that clocks up to 26 so far. However, last weekend, Home Alone, Uncle Buck and Planes Trains and Automobiles were on TV and he seemed as present as ever.

John is still bringing love and laughter.

Sadly, over the last 12 months, we have also lost two wonderful people that I interviewed for the book. Caroll Spinney (aka Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) spread his yellow wings and flew off in December 2019, and my dear friend Patty Ferraro, who I interviewed about working on Only the Lonely passed away literally a month ago. Both, like John, leave a lasting legacy.

My hour with Caroll was pretty magical, aside from his John stories, he was so wise and sweet, he spoke to me in Big Bird's voice at one stage and I felt like I was five years old again. I told him of my disappointment that I had heard Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog were getting a divorce, without missing a beat he told me not to worry - "It was just a storyline"!

I found Patty and her sister, Marie, completely by chance, on an old Facebook thread where they were talking about working on Only the Lonely - I thought I would chance my luck and send them a message. It paid off. They gave me some great stories as well as their friendship. Patty was hilarious and would message me late at night (my time), give me commentary on the world, old stories from her time as a Chicago cop (those sisters really kicked some ass, true heroes) and counselled me many times. My heart is with her beloved sister Marie and daughter Ally. I will really miss Patty, she was a one-off, RIP my friend and thanks.

With regards to John, I hope he's caught up with both of them, I hope he doesn't mind me being so curious about him,  I'm pretty sure Patty will vouch for me.

So I guess on a sad day like today, we need to remember the love of those we have lost, be grateful that we had them and realise that living on and telling stories about them is part of their legacy, and ours.

Big love to you all
Orange Whip?

Tracey x

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Happy Birthday Mr Candy

69! John would have been 69 years of age today, instead, he is 43 forever.

As well as it being John's birthday, it's also Halloween and let's face it, it ain't Halloween without Candy! I recently read that John enjoyed Halloween more than he did his birthday, he liked to make things about everyone else instead of about himself. He loved dressing up, he loved spending time with his kids, entertaining, I imagine he made Halloween just magical.

Make sure you go and watch that Candy movie today, share that meme, reminisce about your favourite movie of his, send some love in his direction.

I love some of the old traditions of Halloween. The Day of the Dead - when the astral and earth plane is meant to be at their closest, those who have passed are celebrated as it's believed they visit us. What a lovely tribute, celebrating all those we have lost with a party! Samhain is more Pagan- the thanking and welcoming of the harvest and the darker part of the year. Either way, the coming together warms my heart, and since it's John's birthday it always makes me feel a little bit closer to him too.

In tribute to John, I am just about to release a new mini-book, on 4th November via Amazon, called The A to Z of John Candy. It has been beautifully illustrated by my friend, Gary McGarvey, or Horse, (as his design company is known). My dear old friend, Joe Shooman, stepped up to edit for me again, and Rhys Perry wiped the tears and gave words of encouragement as usual, and well the result is beautiful and something that I'm very proud of. Chock full of facts and trivia, I'm hoping it is a lovely addition to any Candy fan's collection, it's worth it for the art alone.

Writing The A to Z of John Candy was great fun, you'll even find some facts that aren't included in Searching For Candy. Find out about John's connection with Donald Duck, Divine stories and the secret to those Uncle Buck pancakes!

Finally, I would like to thank you for all your support this year. Usually, in John's birthday post I would mention the biography and how I hoped it would be out next year, this time I don't have to do that because it's now in existence. Thank you to all who have bought, read or reviewed it, it really means a lot.

So big love and a happy birthday to John and a Happy Halloween to everyone else.

Much love as always,
Tracey xx

Monday, 5 August 2019

Who Wants to be Mary Poppins Anyway? Uncle Buck Rules

I love seeing the John Candy memes fly around social media, I always get a kick out of them. One of the new kids on the block is, "I always thought when I had kids I'd have it together like Mary Poppins, but turns out I'm more like Uncle Buck". Is that insinuating it's a bad thing?

As a kid I always wanted an Uncle Buck. Okay Mary Poppins was alright, but she was quite straight laced. I would have loved to have rode a carousel horse, but I don't want a spoonful of sugar to make my medicine go down, I'd much rather go bowling, eat ice cream and have someone cook me giant pancakes and garbage.

Okay Poppins would ensure your house was clean, she had no problems trying to get the goddamn washing machine to work, your socks would never be microwaved, but where is the fun in that? If your ex does the dirty on you, you don't want someone breaking out into a rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!, you want someone to take out their ass with a golf ball.

If anyone sees this meme and thinks, 'that's me', congratulations, you are a shit load of fun to be around, you will gain respect for all the right reasons.

Anyway, who was really the one unable to commit? Poppins never hung around - she would soon move on, Uncle Buck is for life.

In other news I did a book signing at Hoo Fest - Comic Con On the Farm this weekend and had an
awesome time, thanks to all involved! The book is going well, if you've read it and not reviewed it yet I would love to hear what you think. It's not everyone's cup of tea and that's okay, but hopefully, if nothing else, you'll love the John Candy stories you'll find within.

I've been working on another book related to John that will be out before Christmas. I have also started working on my next Searching For... I'll share more info about that a little further down the road.

I hope you are all well, big love and thanks for your support as always,

Tracey xxx

PS If you haven't bought Searching For Candy yet and you fancy a copy, it's available worldwide on Amazon

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Floating through space

Hi everyone,

As you probably already know I have finally released the book! Phew! Well I had a sigh of relief and two minutes of pride, then I turned into the biggest ball of anxiety. Would anyone buy the book? Would anyone like it? Would John like it if he could read it? Argh! So I stopped writing blog posts and just worried instead.

I figured I needed to break that habit, so here I am.

So far the book has done OK, I've sold some, I've had some lovely reviews, I've had the odd one that wasn't so great and that's OK too.

I think my biggest thrill has been John's friends and colleagues Rob Salem, Juul Haalymeyer and Jonathan O'Mara telling me that I portrayed John well -  the love shined through and that means everything.

I've been lucky enough to talk to some great people about the book, including Jim Hawkins (listen here), Mark Woodyatt (listen to the Mark and Me podcast here), been interviewed by Liam Pritchard (read here) and featured on the Franky Slawson show (you can check him out here).

I did a lovely book launch at Shrewsbury Library (thanks to all who came, and to the library for accommodating me).

Press wise I then got stuck. It's like I'm waving at people and no one can see! I'm a nobody, I get that, the competition out there is fierce, but John, John is very much a somebody and he deserves more - so on that front I feel like I'm failing.

So here is my plea. If you can share or RT or spread the word in some way please do. If you work in journalism, you blog, have a podcast, a radio show and would like to chat about the book or review it please get in touch.

Meantime I'm working on a second edition that should hopefully be released next year with even more stories and interviews, if you read this and you have a John Candy story you would love to share please get in touch with me! I also have another book I'm planning - if you love John I'm pretty sure you will also love my next subject, but it's going to take some money, so I'm saving for that one at the moment.

I guess all that is left for now is to say how much I appreciate everyone who has supported me so far, it means the world and I am so very grateful.

If you would like to grab the book you can find it here Amazon Canada, Amazon USA, Amazon UK and anywhere else you can get Amazon, just check your national site!

Big thanks and love to you all, I promise to write soon (maybe with an unpublished story from my interviews about John!)

Tracey xx

Monday, 4 March 2019

25 Years On

Picture by Odandiee
Dear John

Well you should see the world today, full of love for you, it's like you are still here. And you are. I believe that.

Time means nothing when you leave such a legacy.

The impact you have made will never be lost. Millions of people still admire and respect you, you still crease us with laughter and make us cry with an expression. You should see all the famous twitterati talking about you - I wonder if you ever knew just how much of an influence you would have in the entertainment world and beyond?

For me, you are an inspiration. Your kindness makes me want to be a better human being. Thanks for getting me through the last seven years, I'm not sure I would still be here without you.

Sending big love to you, your family, friends and fans.

Thank you John, I hope I've done you proud,

Tracey xx