While filming the Western parody Wagons East!, Candy died of a myocardial infarction in Durango, Mexico, on March 4, 1994, aged 43. His final two films, Wagons East! and Canadian Bacon, are dedicated to his memory.
mong Candy's memorable characterizations for SCTV were unscrupulous street-beat TV personality Johnny LaRue, 3-D horror auteur Doctor Tongue, sycophantic and easily amused talk-show sidekick William B. Williams, and Melonville's corrupt Mayor Tommy Shanks. Other characters included the cheerful Leutonian clarinetist Yosh Shmenge, who was half of the Happy Wanderers and the subject of the mockumentary The Last Polka, folksy fishin' musician Gil Fisher, handsome if accent-challenged TV actor Steve Roman, Pippy Long Socks, hapless children's entertainer Mr. Messenger, corrupt soap-opera doctor William Wainwright, smut merchant Harry, "the Guy With the Snake on His Face", and Giorgy, everyone's favourite Cossack.
Mimicry was one of Candy's talents, which he used often at SCTV. Celebrities impersonated by Candy include Jerry Mathers, Divine, Orson Welles, Julia Child, Richard Burton, Silvio Gigante, Luciano Pavarotti, Jimmy the Greek, Andrew Sarris, Tip O'Neill, Don Rickles, Curly Howard, Merlin Olsen, Jackie Gleason, Tom Selleck, Gordon Pinsent, Darryl Sittler, Ed Asner, Gertrude Stein, Morgy Kneele, Doug McGrath, and Hervé Villechaize.
In 1979, Candy took a short hiatus from SCTV and began a more active film career, appearing in a minor role as a US Army soldier in Steven Spielberg's big-budget comedy 1941 and had a supporting role as corrections officer Burton Mercer in The Blues Brothers. A year later, Candy played the lovable, mild-mannered Army recruit Dewey Oxberger in 1981's Stripes, one of the most successful films of the year. In 1983, Candy had a small but memorable cameo appearance in Harold Ramis's National Lampoon's Vacation and appeared on Saturday Night Live twice (hosting in 1983) while still appearing on SCTV. According to writer-comedian Bob Odenkirk, Candy was reputedly the "most-burned potential host" of SNL, in that he was asked to host many times, only to be told 'no thanks' by the SNL staff at the last minute.
In 1983, Candy headlined in the film Going Berserk, and was also approached to play the character of accountant Louis Tully in Ghostbusters (completed and released in 1984), but ultimately did not get the role because of his conflicting ideas of how to play the character; the part went instead to Rick Moranis. Candy was one of the many celebrities who appeared chanting "Ghostbusters" in Ray Parker, Jr.'s hit "single" for the movie. In 1984, Candy played Tom Hanks's womanizing brother in the hit romantic comedy Splash, generally considered his break-out role.
Throughout the latter half of the 1980s, Candy often took roles in substandard films (even performing the voice of a talking horse in the Bobcat Goldthwait comedy Hot to Trot). While continuing to play supporting roles in films such as Spaceballs, Candy headlined or co-starred in such comedy movies as Volunteers, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Brewster's Millions, The Great Outdoors, Armed and Dangerous, Who's Harry Crumb?, Summer Rental, and Uncle Buck. He also continued to provide memorable bit roles, including a disc jockey in the comic musical film Little Shop of Horrors and a policeman in the Sesame Street film Follow That Bird.
Candy also produced and starred in a Saturday-morning animated series on NBC titled Camp Candy in 1989. The show was set in a fictional summer camp run by Candy, featured his two children in supporting roles, and also spawned a brief comic book series published by Marvel Comics' Star Comics imprint.
In 1994, while on vacation from film production (Wagons East!) in Mexico City, Mexico, Candy called his friends, including Canadian Football League commissioner Larry Smith, and told them that he had just let go of his team and was putting it up for sale. He then called his assistant, who invited Candy to play golf with him in the spring when he returned to Toronto. After cooking a late lasagna dinner for his assistants, Candy called his co-stars from his hotel, then went to sleep. Some time after midnight, on March 4, 1994, Candy was found dead from a myocardial infarction. He was only 43; no autopsy was performed. The heavyset Candy had struggled for some years with weight-related health issues.
Candy was survived by his wife, Rosemary Hobor, and his two children, Jennifer and Christopher Candy.