“Happy Gilmore” Comedian Dies at 82

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Joe Flaherty, a seminal figure in North American comedy, has passed away at the age of 82, following a brief illness. His daughter, Gudrun Flaherty, confirmed his passing on Monday, April 1, 2024. Flaherty was well-known for his roles on the Canadian sketch series “Second City Television” (SCTV) and the American series “Freaks and Geeks.”

Flaherty was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but his impact on comedy was felt far beyond the United States. His significant contributions to Canadian comedy, particularly through his work on SCTV, left a lasting legacy. The show, which aired from 1976 to 1984, satirized television and pop culture and featured Flaherty in unforgettable roles such as Guy Caballero, the unscrupulous network boss, and Count Floyd, the horror show host.

His contributions to SCTV won him two Emmy awards, showcasing his writing skills and creative vision. Flaherty’s influence extended into the world of teaching, where he helped nurture budding talents and shared his passion and knowledge for comedy.

In 1999, Flaherty joined the cast of “Freaks and Geeks,” portraying Harold Weir, the confused but loving father. Despite the series only running until 2000, it is remembered for its genuine depiction of high school life and for helping to kickstart the careers of actors such as Jason Segel, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Busy Philipps.

Flaherty’s influence also extended into the film industry, with notable performances in films such as “Happy Gilmore,” where he acted alongside Adam Sandler.

Upon news of his death, tributes from colleagues and fans alike poured in on social media, acknowledging his comedic prowess and his gentle nature.

Adam Sandler, in a post on Instagram, expressed his admiration for Flaherty, hailing him as a comedic genius and a kind soul. Sandler offered his condolences to Flaherty’s family and gratitude for Flaherty’s contributions to comedy.

Joel Murray, Flaherty’s co-star from “One Crazy Summer,” mourned his loss on the social media platform “X,” acknowledging the breadth of Flaherty’s life and career and referring to him as one of his idols.

Martin Short, a friend of Flaherty’s for over 50 years, praised his unique wisdom and humor in comedy and improvisation. Short emphasized Flaherty’s role as the “anchor” on “SCTV” and celebrated him as the funniest person in any room.

Jennifer Tilly posted on “X” about her experience working with Flaherty in “The Wrong Guy,” commending his flawless comedic performance and expressing her sorrow over his passing.

Director Martin Scorsese expressed his admiration for Flaherty’s work, emphasizing the discipline and mastery required in comedy, and hailed Flaherty as a true master of the art form.

John Francis Daley, recalling the filming of “Freaks & Geeks,” fondly remembered how Flaherty’s humor often disrupted shoots, expressing fondness for their time working together and Flaherty’s friendly demeanor.

Paul Feig, the creator of “Freaks and Geeks,” remembered Flaherty as a comedy hero and a wonderful person on “X.” Feig shared his sadness and appreciation for Flaherty’s willingness to share his “SCTV” experiences, noting how much he will miss him.

The Comedic Artists Alliance had launched a fundraiser in February to support 24-hour home health care for Flaherty in response to his illness, demonstrating the deep respect and affection his peers had for him. This campaign underscored Flaherty’s esteemed position in the comedy world and the collective effort to support him through his health challenges.

Flaherty’s daughter fondly remembered him, stating: “Father was a remarkable individual, celebrated for his limitless kindness and his relentless enthusiasm for films of the 1940s and 1950s. For him, movies were not just a pastime; they significantly shaped his professional journey, especially his memorable tenure on ‘SCTV.’ He valued every second of his involvement with the series, taking immense pride in its achievements and being thrilled to work alongside an extraordinary ensemble.”

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