John Candy. Just his name brings a smile and memories of all the great characters he played: Johnny LaRue, Yosh Shmenge, Dewey Oxberger, Tom Tuttle, Barf, Del Griffith, Harry Crumb, Uncle Buck, Danny Muldoon.
His performance in Planes, Trains & Automobiles - "I like me. My wife likes me" - is a master class in the subtleties of broad comedy.
Candy secretly wished he could've played pro football. Though he played ball in high school, he was such a gentle soul that it's difficult to imagine him being able to knock people senseless over a piece of pigskin. (You only need watch his hilarious mud wrestling scene in Stripes to realize how incongruous the idea of Candy tackling anybody is.)
But his passion for the sport led him to partner with Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall to buy the Toronto Argonauts in 1991.
The Argos, led by rookie sensation Rocket Ismail, won the Grey Cup that season, although Candy's name was not inscribed on the trophy.
The CFL intends to change that at a special blue-carpet event honouring Candy. The evening, hosted by Dan Aykroyd, coincides with the player awards tonight (Thursday, November 22) at Roy Thomson Hall.
"John would be humbled by the tribute," says Rose Candy, John's widow. "Football was a love of his since early childhood. I know John's time with the Argos brought him some of his happiest memories, as did his time with Second City."
"He constantly made fun of his own playing ability," says Argos head coach Michael "Pinball" Clemons, who played under Candy and was awestruck by the man's genuineness. "He spoke fondly of his football days and had a way of making the players feel like they were doing something he always wished he could do."
Clemons even recalls a road trip Candy took with the team when he set up a special preview screening of Cool Runnings.
"That's the way John was, very down-to-earth and authentic, always making you feel like you were the most important person in the world," says Clemons. "He was the biggest star on the team, but he never acted like it. The players were the stars to him. As a result, we felt more like entertainers than athletes."