John Candy was a beloved Canadian comedian and actor who starred in classic comedy films like Splash, Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Born in Toronto in 1950, Candy got his start in comedy as a member of Toronto’s Second City improv troupe in the 1970s. He went on to become a cast member on the hit sketch comedy show Second City Television (SCTV) and later starred in several Hollywood films throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Some of Candy’s most popular roles included Johnny LaRue in SCTV, Del Griffith in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Irv Blitzer in Cool Runnings, and Barf in Spaceballs. Known for his larger-than-life comedic persona and ability to get big laughs playing lovable underdog characters, Candy was one of the most bankable comedic actors of his era. Tragically, he passed away in 1994 at the age of 43 due to a heart attack. However, Candy’s iconic performances continue to entertain audiences to this day.
What Was John Candy’s Net Worth?
It is estimated that John Candy had a net worth of around $15 million at the time of his death in 1994. This is equivalent to around $27 million in today’s dollars when accounting for inflation.
The bulk of Candy’s wealth came from his lucrative film career that spanned nearly 20 years. During his Hollywood heyday in the 1980s and early 90s, Candy was able to command millions per film role at the peak of his career. Some of his biggest paydays included:
- $2 million for starring in The Great Outdoors in 1988
- $3 million for starring in Uncle Buck in 1989
- $3.5 million for starring in Only the Lonely in 1991
Candy also earned a sizable income from his work on SCTV and from other television projects. While his early SCTV salary was more modest, he was making over $40,000 per episode by the show’s final seasons according to contemporary reports. Candy also voiced the lead character on the Saturday morning cartoon Camp Candy, which likely earned him additional income through syndication and merchandising royalties.
In addition to his salaries as an actor, Candy owned a production company called Frostbacks Productions. This company gave him backend ownership stakes in several of his later films, which added to his overall net worth.
What Were Some of John Candy’s Most Lucrative Films?
While John Candy starred in many hit comedies, some of his most commercially successful films that contributed significantly to his wealth included:
- Box office gross: $69.8 million
- Candy’s role: Freddie Bauer
This surprise hit romantic comedy, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, featured Candy in a breakout supporting role and became one of the most successful films of 1984. It likely earned Candy one of his highest paychecks up to that point in his career.
- Box office gross: $38.1 million
- Candy’s role: Barf
Candy nabbed a lucrative part playing the half-man, half-dog sidekick in Mel Brooks’ Star Wars spoof. It was one of his most quoted and beloved roles.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
- Box office gross: $129 million
- Candy’s role: Del Griffith
This John Hughes road trip comedy marked the first film where Candy received top billing. It was a major box office smash and is considered one of Candy’s most iconic performances.
Uncle Buck (1989)
- Box office gross: $79.2 million
- Candy’s role: Buck Russell
Candy earned one of his biggest paychecks to star in this John Hughes comedy about an unreliable uncle tasked with babysitting his nieces and nephew. It was Candy’s largest leading role on the big screen.
Home Alone (1990)
- Box office gross: $476.7 million
- Candy’s role: Gus Polinski
Candy made an uncredited cameo as the polka band leader in the record-breaking holiday hit. The tiny role likely earned him a massive backend payday.
What Were Some of John Candy’s Most Notable Business Ventures?
In addition to his acting, some of Candy’s major business ventures included:
- Toronto Argonauts – Candy was part owner of the Canadian Football League team from 1991-1994. This was a passion project for the Toronto native.
- Frostbacks Productions – Candy’s production company gave him more control and backend ownership of films like Once Upon A Crime, Hostage for a Day, and Canadian Bacon.
- Candy Stationery – Candy launched his own line of greeting cards and stationery products. This allowed him to earn licensing and merchandising revenue from his name and likeness.
- Laughton Automotive – Candy started an unsuccessful car dealership in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1992. It was one of his few failed ventures.
- Candy Brand Foods – Just prior to his death, Candy was preparing to launch a line of premium candies and confections that would bear his name.
Even with some ill-fated ventures, these business interests provided Candy with additional income streams beyond just his acting career. They demonstrated his drive to build a diverse enterprise around his celebrity and popularity.
How Much Wealth Did John Candy Leave Behind?
The bulk of John Candy’s estate, including his various properties and assets, was left to his widow Rose Candy and their two children, Jennifer and Christopher Candy.
Reports at the time estimated the value of Candy’s estate between $19-25 million. However, after taxes, fees, and other expenses were accounted for, the actual inheritance was likely in the $15 million range.
Some of the notable assets left behind included:
- Candy’s Los Angeles luxury home, valued around $4 million.
- His country estate outside Toronto, valued around $2.5 million.
- A large portfolio of stock investments and income properties.
- Profits and royalties from his production company and other business ventures.
- The rights to his film catalogue and ongoing merchandising income.
While the worth of his estate has fluctuated over the years, it ensured generational wealth for his family. Candy’s widow and children have been involved in managing his legacy and keeping his comedy work alive for new generations of fans.
How Have Candy’s Heirs Built Upon His Wealth and Legacy?
Since John Candy’s untimely death, his widow and children have worked to expand his wealth and solidify his pop culture legacy:
- Rose Candy – Candy’s widow has managed his name, likeness rights, and intellectual property. She oversees licensing deals and produces official John Candy merchandise.
- Jennifer Candy – Their daughter Jennifer handles PR and helps produce documentaries and other content about her father’s life and career.
- Christopher Candy – Their son is involved in the family’s real estate and investment portfolio. He manages their property assets.
- The John Candy Visual Arts Studio – Opened in 2015 at Candy’s former high school in Toronto, it provides space and resources for visual arts students.
- Memorabilia Auctions – Personal items of Candy’s have periodically been auctioned off, such as his SCTV scripts and Hollywood memorabilia.
- Name Rights Cases – The Candy estate has been involved in lawsuits against improper usage of Candy’s name and likeness. This protects his intellectual property rights.
Overall, Candy’s widow and children have worked successfully to grow his wealth through smart licensing deals and investments while also securing his pop culture status for generations to come. Their work has ensured Candy’s enduring legacy as a comedy icon.
John Candy was one of the most popular comedy stars of the 1980s and amassed an impressive net worth of around $15 million at his peak. While a heart attack sadly claimed his life prematurely at 43, Candy’s iconic film roles endure, as does the wealth he left behind for his family. Through smart licensing deals, merchandising, and investing, Candy’s widow Rose and his children Jennifer and Christopher have successfully built upon his fortune while cementing his comedic legacy. Candy’s unforgettable performances will no doubt continue entertaining audiences and influencing comedians for many generations to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How did John Candy build his fortune?
Candy built his fortune primarily through his successful comedy film career. At his peak in the late 80s/early 90s, he was earning between $2-3.5 million per movie role. Secondary income sources included his SCTV salary, television work, and his various business ventures.
What was John Candy’s most financially successful film?
Home Alone was likely Candy’s most financially lucrative film due to its record-breaking box office gross. Even though it was a small cameo role, Candy likely earned a massive backend payday from the film’s profits.
Did John Candy make money from merchandising deals?
Yes. Candy earned merchandising income from properties like Camp Candy as well as his own Candy Brand Foods line and Candy Stationery brand. His estate continues to license his name and likeness.
How much was John Candy’s estate worth?
At the time of his death, estimates put the total value of Candy’s estate between $19-25 million after accounting for taxes and fees. The actual inheritance was likely around $15 million.
Who inherited John Candy’s wealth?
The bulk of Candy’s estate went to his widow Rose Candy and their two children, Jennifer Candy and Christopher Candy. They continue to build on his wealth through investments, licensing deals, and protecting his intellectual property.