Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Have yourselves a very Schemenge Christmas!

I would love to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me with this project this year; Rhys, friends and family that have listened to me whittle on, those who have read my blog, liked my Facebook page, spread the word or given me their time to talk to me about their experience of being friends or working with John. Thank you!

This year I have had the huge honour of interviewing many people including leg-ends Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. Some of my favourite stories however have come from crew members - those who worked with John closely behind the scenes and had so much respect for the friendship and warmth they were shown by him.

Of course I can't mention John Candy and Christmas without mentioning Home Alone "Polka, polka, polka" (and I do have stories about that shoot) but I was wanting to give you another Christmas story...

Rick Lazzarini who built and controlled John's ears when he was playing Barf in Spaceballs gave me a lovely festive memory of John.

John and Rick. Copyright Rick Lazzarini 1986
"John called me;

'So, Rick, you're good with mechanical stuff, right?'

'Yeah, I think so!'

'Well, can you come on over to my office? I need you to build something for me…'

With everything he had done for me, the answer was: 'Of course!. No question.'

So I made my way to his Santa Monica office, where he greeted me warmly. 

'I got this thing for my son Christopher. I dunno how to put it together!'

It was a metal tractor, the pedal kind, nicely crafted, solid, but it needed assembly.  

'You got it!' I said, and immediately started in on putting it together. It was for a Christmas present, and right around the holidays, and so John put on some Christmas music. He asked: 

'Do you want some wine?'


So we chatted, drinking wine, he behind his desk with his feet up on it, me sitting cross-legged on the floor, putting Tab A into Slot B and aligning holes so screw C could thread in.

And so…we talked, joked, laughed, sipped, dished, cozy, the red tractor coming into shape as we shared and joshed and enjoyed each other's company. 

I haven't yet met another actor, much less a human being, with John's capacity to fill the people around him with such joy. God bless him. He was wonderful. I miss him so."

It's only the last few years I have been introduced to the many wonderful characters John played as part of SCTV. The Schemege Brothers are two characters created by John and Eugene Levy, they have a polka band and come from Leutonia. Christmas in Leutonia includes eggs, hats on trees, sock swapping and cabbage rolls and coffee (Mmm mmm good!). Please watch this clip to get you in the spirit and have yourselves a very Schemenge Christmas!

So eat, drink, be merry, love those around you and spare a thought for those not as fortunate. Next year I will aim to be a better person, I will aim to love people and life as much as John did.

Lots of love
Tracey x

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Value the people around you.

John loved people, he loved his friends, his family and would have done anything for them. I have heard numerous stories from his friends and colleagues about times when he supported them, looked out for them. From diving in when he saw an injustice to loaning money and a kind ear.

Last week I interviewed Tony Rosato who was originally directed by John when he was part of the Second City Touring Troupe. He was also given one of his first breaks by John and Joe Flaherty to become part of the SCTV cast which then lead him to Saturday Night Live and beyond. Tony told me stories of living next door to the Aykroyd's, becoming life long friends with John and the time John bailed him out big time. His generosity knew no bounds and yet he was a everyday kind of guy. A sweet story featuring the Aykroyd's love of fish which led to Tony and John setting up a huge tank with African Cychilds will be in the book, it stirred up images of young boys working together and being chuffed to bits with what they achieved. When I say boys - they weren't at the time - but I love their child-like hearts.

I asked Tony a stupid question, does he still miss John? Of course the answer was, without hesitation, "everyday".

John was also very considerate to those he did not know so well, showing simple acts of kindness. A couple of weeks ago Donna Meyer told me a story when John was filming Wagons East, a spoof western which was actually his last film (he passed away in Mexico whilst on location). "On Ash Wednesday, we were going to be shooting an hour or so out of town. He knew that most of the Mexican crew were Catholic and that with our very early morning calls and long days, most of them would not be able to get to church. So he made arrangements with the priest of the church he had been attending to travel out to where we were shooting to bless and give ashes to any of the crew members who wanted it. It was the most thoughtful thing I'd ever seen."

There are countless stories of John helping others - one in particular about an old neighbour of his who lost her husband, every year he would send her flowers and make sure that when the snow came her drive was cleared. He would eat out in restaurants - then help the kitchen staff in the back and help serve customers.
You never forget those that have been kind to you, that haven't judged you. Not everyone around John was like this, he got hurt by many, but it never stopped him from being true to himself and giving so freely.

He was the "real article". 

Researching and writing about John always inspires me to be a better person.

This week I have been shown kindness that I will never forget, thank you to those who gave it to me, I am truly blessed. x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving is here for our American friends, I wonder how many people have watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles with their families in preparation? Written, directed and produced by John Hughes this was certainly John Candy at his best, he will make you laugh and cry as well as quote lines for the rest of your life.

I am ashamed to say I didn't know Canada's Thanksgiving (Jour de l'Action de grĂ¢ce in Canadian French) was on the second Monday in October - something I believe Canuks also call John Candy day!

Although I am in the UK and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here, I am aware that I have a lot to be thankful for. In two days my boyfriend comes home from India and I just can't wait! I am just hoping he doesn't have a Planes, Trains and Automobiles experience getting home - however if he was to meet a Del Griffith that would be no bad thing.

I presume John would celebrate both Canadian and American Thanksgiving (any excuse for a party) and I found a lovely quote from his wife, Rose Candy, taken from The Second City Unscripted by Mike Thomas;

"John loved to gather friends and family. When we had people over, is was 'Enjoy, relax' as we cooked in our kitchen. One Thanksgiving, we invited the cast over from Second City Toronto. A small detail had been over looked - the turkey was still frozen. Thinking quickly, we put the bird under the shower to thaw, and at around two in the morning we celebrated Thanksgiving."

I believe this instance wasn't just isolated to Thanksgiving, it was quite common for people to be invited over for dinner and finally eat during the early hours in the morning.

As a small gift here is a deleted scene from Planes, Trains - I truly believe it should have been left in and god knows how many more of these gems didn't make it to the screen.

So Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I would love to know what you are thankful for...

PS If you haven't already, please join my Facebook group x

Sunday, 10 November 2013

How to make an Orange Whip...

Ever wondered how to make the Orange Whip a la Blues Brothers? Just add vodka, rum and cream to orange juice, pour over ice and stir.

Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips. 

Longer post coming soon... thanks for following.

Please join my FB group

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dear John...

Dear John

Today is your birthday, you would have been 63.

As I sit at my computer and look around the social media sites I wonder if you ever imagined that so many people would be missing you and remembering you today?

Tonight I am unsure which of your movies to watch. Planes, Trains is some of your finest work, Cool Runnings never fails to cheer me and make me more determined and Uncle Buck is just a classic. But I might have to go with Only The Lonely as your old friends Jonathan O'Mara and Charlie Northcote tell me this was the truest to life character you played. Whatever film I watch I know that you will make me laugh and cry and reaffirm exactly why I am writing this book about you.

Thank you for making me laugh, for giving me hope and for being everything I wanted you to be and more. Unknowingly you have helped me cope with a terrible bout of depression and have given me focus in my life.  I have been blessed to speak to so many of your friends, co-stars and crew, they have been so generous with their time and memories, they have bent over backwards to help me and it's down to their love for you.

I wonder how you would have spent your birthday today? whether you would be working? Mariel Hemingway was only telling me last week that you were always the first on set and the last to leave, you were like a big kid that couldn't miss a thing. Or whether you would be with your family that you loved so dearly, I know you doted on them and worked so hard to make sure you could look after them when you were no longer around. Either way I know you would be celebrating in style, from what I have been told you were the perfect host and so much fun, everyone just wanted to be with you.

So Happy Birthday dear John, you will be 43 forever - living in the hearts of so many as well as the legacy you left. Celebrate wherever you are and have an orange whip on me.

Much love to you and all that miss you,

(A very grateful)
Tracey x

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The mess around...

Music has always been an inspiration to me, my taste is diverse, I just like good songs. In fact there have been nights when I am pretty sure music has saved my life. 

John also loved music, it was a big part of his life.

When John was growing up he booked the bands at Neil McNeil high school, he also played the clarinet (which was very useful later on in his sketches with Eugene Levy playing the Schmenge Brothers and for his role as Gus Polinski in Home Alone). 

Through booking the bands he met one of his best friend's Jonathan O'Mara (who is also a very talented musician). They were both big fans of Simon and Garfunkel and used to drive round late at night listening to them - I wonder if John ever imagined he would be introducing them on stage later on in life? Not only that but having Paul Simon co-star on sketches? In fact Paul featured in one of my favourite early Candy sketches, Roy's food repair (look out for who else you can spot!).

John had a great sense of rhythm, he was light on his feet and a great dancer. His agent, Catherine McCartney, told me if you didn't leave the night before the band started, you knew as soon as they took to the stage you were staying until the end.  

During SCTV they championed musicians who would come on and play as part of a sketch in the show - many times these suggestions would come from John who was always keen to give someone a break. 

Playing Gus Polanski in Home Alone John was only there for 24 hours and managed to upset Chris Columbus as he kept encouraging the polka musicians (used for his scenes) play songs and nobody could concentrate, of course John Hughes saw the funny side and told them to play one more. 

He was even the music video for super-group The Travelling Wilbury's, The Wilbury Twist

His love for music is evident in doing the classic 'mess around' scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles' -  you should always bookmark this scene and when you are feeling low, watch it, it's like a tonic. 

I was curious as to what music John would listen to knowing that his tastes were probably as diverse as my own. I interviewed Dave Thomas (one of the first big interviews I did), Dave was so generous he gave me an hour and a half of his time. When asking Dave about the music John loved one track really stood out in his memory. John would play Eddie Money - Baby Hold On To Me very loudly in his car. When I am struggling to write I now listen to this song and somehow I always find inspiration.

There are many other stories I could tell you now but I am trying to hold some stuff back for the book. 

I am also highly curious as John's fans as to what you would like to see included? I have quite a few interviews coming up, if there is anything you would like to know please suggest it below.

Please also join my Facebook group for regular updates and snippets of John's work 

I'm off to do The Mess Around...

Monday, 23 September 2013

The 360 view

I have been blessed so far undertaking around forty interviews about John for my book. From old friends to colleagues, his agent, co stars, fans and crew. I have stories coming out of my ears.

I am writing the book but I am not really a writer, the interviews are telling the story for me - just as it should be. I have no clue when this will be finished as with every interview it changes ever so slightly. The common theme though is "Everybody loved John" - and they did.

This project would not exist without those who were willing to give their time, trust and memories and I will always be grateful. If you knew John please get in touch, I would love to hear your story.

I'm off to watch Only The Lonely one of my favourite John Candy films. For those of you who haven't seen the film before I have it on good authority from two of John's old friends, Jonathan O'Mara and Charles Northcote, this was the character that John was most like in real life. Just loveable.

Next on the list... searching for Maureen O'Hara, wish me luck!

To keep posted on the blog, book and some lovely classic Candy moments please also like my group on Facebook

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Do what you love...

"Everyone is given a gift. It takes different forms, some are never realised and fortunately mine was"
John Candy

I have learnt in life that if you are on the right path things tend to flow more easily. If somewhere along the way you end up on the wrong one then life has a way of kicking you again and again, until you get back on the road you are meant to be travelling down. I have been given a bit of a kicking recently and I am listening.

I always admire John when I look at his work ethic, he has always worked from a young teen, whether it be in a department store or as a salesman before he took on a professional career as an actor.

In 1971 John had a lightbulb moment that would help his career forever.

He was working as a salesman for Kleenex, he got fired as there were around forty salesman in the company and in the sales league John was number forty. When his boss fired him he made a remark that would stick with John,  he said he never should have hired a damn actor. Boom! No one had ever called John an actor before, he was thrilled and from then on he would only take acting jobs, even if they paid a pittance he found a way.

John lived by do what you love and if you don't love your job then change it.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Be the best that you can be.

I have been thinking about my own Dad a lot recently. He died fourteen years ago and I still miss him like crazy. When he passed I wondered why this had happened to him? He was only 54, a good man, he worked hard, had a laugh, loved his family and was true to his friends. Sometimes I wondered if he had just been too good for this world? - he had done his job too well in every aspect and maybe once you have achieved what you have been put here to do, you move on. 

I sometimes think the same about John Candy. 

I can spend hours, that turn into days trying to figure out why both of these men were taken so early. John worked hard that's for sure, during his career he was in over forty movies! Then there is also the TV work, Radio Kandy and Camp Candy, add to that co-owning and promoting the Toronto Argonauts. John wasn't just an actor and entrepreneur, he was a Husband and a Father. 

His wife, Rose, was his childhood sweetheart they had met when they were working in the same department store. During their life together, they had two beautiful children, Jennifer and Chris. When I interviewed Carl Reiner the first thing he said to me was,  he had never met a man more in love with his family. That struck such a cord with me, I think that is the highest compliment anyone could ever give. 

This week I interviewed Kevin Pollak, he was in Canadian Bacon with John, a film written, directed and produced by Michael Moore that was made in the fall of 1993. Kevin had lovely memories of John including a conversation they had one night when they were having a drink. John shared that he knew he wasn't long for this world, he was surprised he had lived this long. He also knew he had been criticised for doing some films that the critics didn't rate, but he said "yes" a lot as he needed to bankroll the money for his family - so that he could take care of them when he had gone. Several months later he passed away.

When my Dad found out he was terminally ill, he was more worried about us, his family, than anything else. He taught me how to check my car oil and how to change a electric plug. I didn't realise at the time but it was so I could do it when he was no longer around to do it for me. 

Both of these men were the best that they could be.

This world would be a much better place if they were both still in it. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Big Issue

John Candy was a big man - fact. The more I research for my book, the sadder I am that people wouldn't let him forget it. 

My weight has always fluctuated, I have a relationship with food, I love it! I eat when I am angry, sad, happy, bored, in fact any occasion. I have no understanding of people who don't like food - it's our life source. When I was younger I was told that if I was a big as a house no man would ever want me... that really stuck with me and I have always had an issue with it whether I have been big or not (I now realise that when I was 3 stone lighter, I wasn't big at all). I once had an ex boyfriend tell me that I was too fat - well he should see me now, he would probably run for the hills - and to be fair he should, I would be standing there throwing things at him. I have always been a contradiction to myself. I used to eat to prove to those around me that people would like me regardless of how big I was. Then the coin in my head would flip and I would cry and worry that people would not accept or love me.  Luckily for me I have found a good man who likes me just as I am. I am still not comfortable in my own skin but I think that is more about worrying what other people think of me than anything else.

John Candy was no different to anyone else, he had insecurities and he had his way to comfort those. Maybe if everyone had dropped the issue, the issue wouldn't have been so big. Maybe not. Who knows? I know people will say it wasn't good for his health to be overweight, you can't deny that... but neither was the stress and worry and the comments that stuck with him about his weight - in fact I would argue that this did far more damage. 

Everyone loved John. He wasn't funny because he was fat, he was funny because he was funny!

Not only did he have to put up with the comments, they were also made in script on screen. He hated doing the mud wrestling scene in Stripes as he thought everyone was laughing at him for the wrong reasons. One reviewer referred to him as an "Elephant". Film critics can be so cruel. He didn't appreciate fat jokes. Just because someone pokes fun at themselves, shouldn't be a free passport for everyone else to do the same. The interviews I have been doing recently have revealed just how hurt John was.

John was a sensitive man. Imagine the one thing you hate most about yourself being highlighted by everyone else as a joke. He did lose weight several times but part of me wonders if his head was like mine - a constant battle of not giving a toss to it being the end of the world. 

Add to that his Dad died in his thirties from a heart attack, when John was just five years old. His Granddad had also passed away young from a heart condition so to him a young death seemed inevitable. John always thought he was on borrowed time - so he made sure he had a good time.

John was loved but from my research I don't think he any clue just how much and to me, that is more tragic than anything else I have learnt.

When Playboy asked the question “You, Sam Kinison, Rosanne Barr and Louie Anderson are all in the forefront of comedy. Is fat funny?” John gave the perfect reply “It’s as funny as midgets. It’s really in the eye of the beholder. Some choose to think that. I never dwell on it. I tend to look at people as people and not as tall, short, fat, skinny. Given the opportunity, I’m sure we would come up with a list of faults for everyone. We could find old people funny. People with big noses. People going bald. People with big ears. People with goiters. People who have face lifts. People who have perfect teeth. You could cut anybody up. Roseanne Barr is very funny, very talented. More power to her. Louie Anderson is funny. Sam Kinison is very talented. I think they’re talented no matter what they look like. I don’t judge people by how they look and I try not to hang out with people who do.”

When I look at the press today I despair, it seems everyone is far more concerned with how people look than what they are achieving or adding to the world. When did we all become so fickle?

John Candy had a huge appetite for love, life, his friends and his family, he also had a huge capacity to get hurt and yet he still put himself out there.

Yes John Candy was a big man, but his heart was bigger - as was his talent.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

"I still have to clean out the kitty litter every day..."

"The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man"- Charles Darwin

I always knew I was never going to find a side to John I didn't like, but I was particularly pleased when I found out that he shared his life with animals.

When starting to write this book I was working at one of the busiest animal hospitals in the UK, I don't think I have ever worked so hard for so little money in all my life. I loved it. My colleagues were intrigued, some more than others. Throughout the early days my biggest source of support came from Ceara. Ceara was amazing in herself, years ago she gave up the rat race and well paid job to follow her passion and help animals, she had worked in rescue and now veterinary. She had a massive animal family and was always willing to stick up for those who couldn't speak for themselves. She is one of those people I always hold in great regard, she also loved listening to my stories about John and Ceara believed in me - you need someone like this in the early days as most people laughed at the prospect of what I was trying to do. Head Nurse Lisa is also amazing, so strong and determined she has overcome such challenges in her life and is chasing her own dreams, she always believes anything is possible. Lisa gave me a chance when no one else would - I will always be very grateful.

People like this I consider to be "Bees". Many years ago when I was at Uni there was one lecture that stayed in my mind. We were taught that scientifically bees shouldn't be able to fly, their body mass is way too big for their wing span and no one could work out how they do it. However, no one had told the bees this so they just flew. So I try to base everything I do on being a Bee! If someone tells you that you can't do it don't listen, just do it.

Anyway I digress...

I loved learning about the beef cattle that John bought for his Toronto Farm - he couldn't bear what would happen to them so ended up with lots of pet cows. I love the fact they escaped and he had to round them up with golf carts - it sounds like it should have been a scene from one of his movies. Horses that he saved from the meat market that they couldn't ride. It was more of a petting zoo than a farm. They had cats and a dog called Keema. Keema he studied for his role of Barf in Spaceballs.

"I'm a Mog: half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend." 

When interviewing Karen Austin, his leading lady in Summer Rental she told me how everyone loved John, even the dog loved John!

Lonette McKee told me John had backed her in her irate letter to Universal Studios who were using tar to trap pigeons when they were filming Brewster's Millions.

I have many stories in the book of John sticking up for others who didn't have a voice or whose voice was not being heard.

There is nothing nicer than falling a little more in awe with the person you are writing about.

PS Don't tell anyone, although I live by this bee theory - I have one of my own. Bees can fly because they have really bad wind, the buzzing isn't from their wings. That's why you will see them fly up and down as they buzz ;)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

A story of determination - Cool Runnings

When I doubt that I can do this, I watch Cool Runnings. A Disney film based on the story of the Jamaican national bobsled team's debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics, Canada. If you haven't seen it I won't elaborate further - for God's sake go and watch it! The ultimate feel good movie, a brilliant illustration of just how far determination and fighting against the odds can get you.

I have been lucky enough to interview two of the actors playing the Jamaican Bobsled team, Malik Yoba (Yul Brenner)  and Rawle D Lewis (Junior Bevil). Nervous wasn't the word, luckily I had three huge Cool Runnings fans on hand for encouragement (thank you HBT, Sarah and Kerry-Lou).

Malik was very kind and encouraging and told me my book shouldn't just be about John Candy but about hope and helping others.

I think by the time I got to talk to Rawle I was even more nervous, I shouldn't have been. So far I think Rawle has been one of my top three favourite interviews. He is so sweet and funny and we talked for almost an hour - it was like I was talking to an old friend. He didn't just work with John Candy - he was a massive John Candy fan. He remembered every detail and really cherishes his memories of John. I felt a real affinity to Rawle, he was a joy to talk to, especially as he was telling me John Candy was everything I wanted him to be and more. 

Rawle gave me so many stories - you will have to read the book for all of them, however he did tell me how John had made them all CD's and given them gifts that he thought would help them with their characters. John Candy was renowned as being generous and thoughtful.
One of the things he gave Rawle was a song and a film by the same name.

Cool Runnings never fails to give me goose bumps, it makes me laugh and cry every time. John shines not just as a comedic talent but also as a dramatic actor.

Next time you feel low on confidence go and watch this movie, it will make you feel like you can move mountains.

"I'm feeling very Olympic today. How about you?"

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Searching for Aykroyd

When I started this whole project I wrote a wish list of people I would like to interview. Some had sadly already passed and some have passed over the last two years whilst I have been writing. There are some I have managed to interview, some who have politely declined and then there is Dan Aykroyd...

I still can't get to Aykroyd, I know that one day I will hear something even if it's just a no (a no is better than nothing).

I interviewed Ken Tipton who I will talk about later on in more detail. Ken met Candy on the set of  Planes Trains, when he was John Candy's stand in. Many years later he tracked John down and John became his mentor. In the process of getting to John he contacted Dawn Steel who said she would help Ken and she gave him her book - he was furious! He was expecting help not a book, then he read it. "They Can Kill You but They Can't Eat You". Ken recommended I read it, I did. It showed me the power of determination. If you can't get in the front door, go to the back door. If you can't get through the back door, go through the side door, can't get through the side door? then go through the window. So this has been the strategy for most of my research.

So when trying to get to Aykroyd I knew it was never going to be easy. I have interviewed Valri Bromfield (his old comedy partner), Dave Thomas who he worked closely with (including co-writing Spies Like Us) and Bruce McNall (Ex Owner of the LA Kings and ex Co-owner of Toronto Argonauts). Dave and Bruce said they would get word to him for me. I have written letters, Tweets, Facebook posts. Dan had even come over to the UK to promote his latest venture Crystal Head Vodka, I sent letters via the producer of the programme he was being interviewed on, a letter where he was doing a signing (my conscience would not allow me to take a sickie, I work for a chairty as the day job), nothing. Apparently he doesn't have email and I didn't think anyone was going to give me his mobile phone number.

I then started to think outside the box. Aykroyd is very spiritual he believes in telepathic transmission, so I thought it might be worth a try. I rallied some sceptical friends of mine to help and every night I would ask them to focus on Aykroyd and try and send him the message to contact me. Steve, El, Sarah and Bec thank you for humouring me. Steve even went that extra mile...


Well actually not nothing... he did Tweet about John Candy shortly after so maybe it had some effect!

Through my research I know that Aykroyd had given much of his time to the author Bob Woodward who wrote 'Wired', the John Belushi Biography. He gave hours of his time as did Belushi's wife Judy. When the book was published they were distraught and angry as their words had been twisted and taken out of context, painting the wrong picture. Once bitten, twice shy? More than likely, this was his good friend, can you imagine losing someone you love so dearly in such a tragic way? only then to have your memories of them skewed to suit the Author's purpose?

I don't blame anyone who doesn't want to talk to me about John Candy. I am a nobody... I think it is sweet that after all this time people are still cautious, they want to look after their friend. I might be a nobody but I am a good soul. I am writing this because I think it needs to be out there, people need to know more about John, they deserve to know more. I don't want to dig dirt and I'm certainly not writing it to make money. 

One day Aykroyd, one day... 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Where to start...

So I decided I was going to write a book, that in itself is a start. There are many old interviews and articles about John but I wanted to give a real 360 view with interviews and information that had never been published before. I was so green, this was a daunting task.

A complete unknown I had no idea how I would get people to take me seriously. The great thing about some of the people who worked and were friends with John, is that they too were creatives and dreamers which really worked in my favour. Of course I have encountered many naysayers, but if nothing else I am tenancious.

Luckily, one of the first people I came accross during my research turned out to be not only an invaulable source of information, but also of support and encouragement. When John was at Neal McNeal High School he met Jonathan O'Mara, they hit it off straight away and soon became the best of friends. Jonathan has given me some lovely stories and insight about John at school, the jobs they did, road trips and Friday nights driving around town. This was two years ago and still today Jonny O and I are conversing and he helps me wherever he can. I often wonder if I hadn't found Jonathan would I have got any further? He has given me so much confidence, I will always be so grateful to him.

I can't wait to share his stories with you.

For now though, this is something that isn't in the book, but something Jonathan wrote when he lost his dear friend, this was published in the Toronto Star... 


Yesterday, you left. Without saying goodbye. I know I should have sought you out sooner, but with you being a movie star and being so busy and having a new circle of friends, I would have felt like an intruder.

Not that you would have made me feel that way. Just the opposite in fact.

I remember at our high school reunion, when you had just finished Splash and you were mobbed by a couple of hundred people looking for autographs, you smiled at everyone and signed every slip of paper handed to you. When you were finished, you looked tired.

I approached you tentatively since we had not seen each other for several years. Would success have spoiled my old friend? Not in the least.

Your gave me a big, heartfelt bear hug and shyly shook my wife's hand.

You introduced me to your friends, Joe Flaherty and Catherine O'Hara, whom I had known from SCTV programs. I was touched that they came along to support you in your "homecoming" performance for your old schoolmates, but then, you always attracted genuine people to you.

You disliked pretense and never showed any.

I remember you telling me that night that you were so nervous before you went on that you were almost physically ill.

Even then, when you were rocketing to success, you were humble and unsure of yourself. Didn't you know everyone loved you?

Remember in 1968‑1969 when we were inseparable? You worked in the pet department of the Towers store in Scarborough and I in a Becker's in the Scarborough boonies. After work, you would climb into your big car which you called "the White Knight" and would come to my work, perch on the end of the counter and help me close up. Then we would cruise around, listen to music and talk.
You were a sad young man then, John, in spite of your jovial, wisecracking exterior. I remember thinking how unusual it was for you to live in a bedroom in the basement while your mom lived upstairs. In all the times I came to your house, I think I only talked to your mom four or five times.

I know you missed your dad terribly. I couldn't understand losing a parent when only a child of 4. I guess that helped to make you the very sensitive person you were.

Remember the Donlands movie theatre? I think it's gone now, but it was only a stone's throw from your house. How you loved movies!

We would watch two or three showings of the same film some evenings. You seemed to lose yourself in them.

Did you ever seriously imagine that one day your face would be up there?

I seem to recall that you didn't think you had much of a future. You were tormented by your weight to the extent that you went to Buffalo to sign up with the U.S. Marine Corps. You said that the training at Paris Island Boot Camp was so rigorous that you would lose all of your weight.

You also said that if you were shipped to Vietnam, you wouldn't care. "Que sera, sera." What will be, will be.

Well, I tagged along that weekend to try to dissuade you, but we ended up in the recruiting office all the same. If it were not for that football injury to your knee, they would have taken you. I was relieved they didn't, but you were very disappointed.

I have a photo of you from that weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont. You're smoking one of those damned Marlboros that you loved so much and are gazing wistfully across to the United States.

Did you know then that your destiny lay over there?

We learned from each other, as all friends do. I learned to give more of myself since you gave so freely. You would always spot me a dollar when I needed one or drive me somewhere when I needed a lift.

Do you remember my 18th birthday, when we were both working at the Neil McNeil High School dance? You should. I know I'll never forget it.

We were both dateless that night and I was particularly despondent since my girlfriend was babysitting and would not be with me at the dance.

You told me at about 8:30 that you had to run an errand. You didn't get back until after 10, but who did you have in tow? Lois, my girlfriend.

The two of you had cooked it up as a surprise and you had driven the 30 miles or so to pick her up for me. You also drove her back that evening. A guy could never have had a better pal!

After high school, you went to Centennial College, where my friend Willy Godfrey kept me up to date on your shenanigans. As time went on, we developed separate interests and, as so often happens, we slowly drifted apart. My father worked with your mother‑in‑law, or your wife Rosie's aunt, or some relation or other.

I was so happy to hear that you married and I got all the dope about your little daughter and son.

As I said, John, you had become famous and I did not want to intrude. I only saw you three times during your years of fame and the interludes were too brief.

I promised my children that I would take them to meet you sometime, but I never seemed to get around to it.

I wish now that I had tried harder.

I looked for you at two Argo games last season but you were not at those games. I guess it's too late now.

John and Jon, Niagara Falls, Canada. March, 1969
My heart goes out to your mother, your brother, Jim, your wife, Rosie, and your countless friends. Your legacy, John, is not only your huge volume of work, but is also your children, your friends, and the effect you have had and will continue to have on millions of people.

You have given the world a large measure of happiness and that is no small thing. I will miss you terribly but I will never forget you.

And, by the way John, say hello to Elvis for me will you?

Sleep well my friend.

God bless.

Jonathan O'Mara

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Two years after I started...

So for the last two years I have been writing a book, more specifically a biography about the mighty John Candy. I am still researching, interviewing and tapping away but my brother suggested I should start a blog about it, so here I am.

So why John Candy? I suffer from really bad depression. A couple of years ago it was affecting me really badly and in an attempt to take me to a happier place I started to watch films that I grew up with. Splash, Uncle Buck, Brewster's Millions... not only did it make me regress to a much nicer time it reminded me of my love for John Candy. I have always been a massive fan but knew very little about him. Thirsty to find out more about I scoured the internet for books written about him, there is in fact only one. I read the book in a day, as a fan it wasn't what I wanted - I won't go into that now though. I could not believe that this was it! There are great articles and fan sites, but surely he deserves more? So I got a crazy notion that maybe I could write the book?

I remember reading a piece by my friend Joe Shooman, he said he realised he could be a writer when he was on a plane reading an article someone had written, someone - a person. Joe was a person too, therefore why couldn't he write? and of course, he could! This gave me a similar realisation.

Making this decision felt like a calling from JC himself (just not the one most people expect!). It took me about a year for anyone to take me seriously. Now I am about 40,000 words in and have interviewed the likes of Dave Thomas, Valri Bromfield, Lonette McKee, Rawle D Lewis and Carl Reiner.

So that was a brief introduction. I am hoping to share snippets of the interviews I have conducted, keep this as a record of my journey and hopefully get some feedback.

One thing I do know, so far this process has been a joy.

John Candy is everything I wanted him to be and more.