On This Day: Comedian John Candy Dies from Heart Attack in 1994

by Matthew Wilson
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Comedian John Candy was one of the titans of the 1980s. He was known for his affable smile, warm character, and his sense of humor. The actor appeared in some of the biggest comedies of that decade. But on this day in 1994, the actor died from a heart attack. Candy was only 43 at the time of his death.

Born Oct. 31, 1950, in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, Candy first fell in love with sports and football. But after a knee injury, Candy found an affinity for entertainment and comedy. The actor made a name for himself in sketch and variety shows in Canada before rising to prominence in the United States.

The actor formed an unspoken pact with actors like Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, Dan Aykroyd and others. They often appeared together in big-budget comedies during the 1980s. One of Candy’s biggest collaborators was director John Hughes.

Candy became his muse, appearing in films such as “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck,” “The Great Outdoors,” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” In fact, according to Vince Vaughn, Candy’s death made the director move away from making films.

John Candy’s Death

When he was only a kid, Candy’s father passed away from a heart attack. For most of his life, Candy feared that he would die in a similar manner. The actor often struggled with his weight, tipping between diets and frequently overeating.

Additionally, Candy developed a drug habit during his career and addiction to cigarettes. He eventually kicked drugs after his friend and actor John Belushi died. But his friend’s death sent him into a spiraling depression.

At home, Candy had two kids Christopher and Jennifer. The actor filmed the western comedy “Wagons East” in 1994 and was away from his family. On the day of his death, Candy celebrated wrapping most of his filming on the movie by cooking himself dinner. He also called his kids.

“I was 9. It was a Friday,” Chris told the Hollywood Reporter. “I remember talking to him the night before he passed away and he said, ‘I love you and goodnight.’ And I will always remember that.” 

That night Candy had a massive heart attack in his sleep and passed away. The reaction to his death was massive with all of Hollywood mourning the entertainer’s death. In the years since, Candy’s legacy continues as his films find new audiences and fans everywhere.

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