Martin Knelman


LAughing On The Outside

“Martin Knelman probes deeper to find the real John Candy, a much more ambivalent figure… he’s rescued him from the sanctimonious prison of his image. We can laugh now.”
Mark Breslin/Toronto Star

Penguin Canada Oct/96
St. Martin's Press (U.S.) Oct/97

The Life Of John Candy

John Candy -- the actor and comedian who died of a heart attack at age 43 in 1994 -- was one of film and television's best loved personalities. In the 1970's, Candy became an audience favorite on the cult-hit series SCTV, creating such hilarious characters as the self-indulgent, conniving conman, Johnny LaRue. Then, following friends and colleagues Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, John Candy made the move to Hollywood -- appearing in more than two dozen pictures, including Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck.

When John Candy met entrepreneur/movie producer/sports promoter Bruce McNall, he thought he had met the man who embodied Hollywood success. Candy saw McNall as a role model, and someone who was in control of his career -- a position that had so far eluded Candy. They became partners (along with hockey star Wayne Gretzky) in an ill-fated sports venture -- the ownership of Candy's beloved hometown football team, The Toronto Argonauts. When the McNall empire crashed in 1993, Candy apparently was a victim of a man who bore a distinct resemblance to Johnny LaRue.

Martin Knelman shows how small roles in successful comedies like Stripes and The Blues Brothers led John Candy to one of his best roles ever, the high-living brother of the hero, Tom Hanks, in Splash. As Freddie, Candy is endearing and hilarious; he plays racquetball with Hanks, smoking and drinking beer from a large cooler he has brought to the gym. The character of the lovable slob, full of sweetness, mirrors Candy's life. He was a compulsive over-eater, a chain-smoker and a heavy drinker. He was also a sensitive, generous and much-loved man whose rapport with millions of fans was based on the fact that he always came across as an ordinary guy.