SCTV and Happy Gilmore actor Joe Flaherty dead at 82

Joe Flaherty on Freaks and Geeks
Joe Flaherty passed away at the age of 82. Pic credit: NBC

Beloved actor, writer, and comedian Joe Flaherty, known for his memorable roles in iconic sketch comedy series such as Second City Television (SCTV) and Freaks and Geeks, has passed away at 82. 

The sad news was confirmed by Flaherty’s daughter, Gudrun, through a statement to Variety, expressing the family’s grief over the loss of a remarkable talent.

“After a brief illness, he left us yesterday, and since then, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this immense loss,” Gudrun said.

She continued, “Dad was an extraordinary man, known for his boundless heart and an unwavering passion for movies from the ’40s and ’50s. His insights into the golden age of cinema didn’t just shape his professional life; they were also a source of endless fascination for me.”

“In these last few months, as he faced his health challenges, we had the precious opportunity to watch many of those classic movies together — moments I will forever hold dear,” the statement concluded.

Flaherty, whose comedic genius graced television screens for decades, was a pivotal figure on SCTV, where he collaborated with comedy legends like John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Short. 

The show, which aired from 1976 to 1984, showcased Flaherty’s versatility as he portrayed a multitude of characters and celebrities with uncanny precision. His contributions to SCTV earned the show numerous Emmy nominations and accolades.

Martin Short and Adam Sandler lead tributes for Joe Flaherty

In a heartfelt tribute, Flaherty’s longtime friend and colleague Martin Short remembered him as a comedic anchor and the funniest person in any room. Remarking on their friendship spanning over five decades. He highlighted Flaherty’s unparalleled wisdom and humor in comedy and his expertise in teaching improvisation and character work.

Short affectionately referred to Flaherty as the anchor of their time together on SCTV, emphasizing his role as the comedic centerpiece. In personal interactions, Flaherty consistently stood out as the most humorous individual, earning Short’s deep admiration and affection.

Adam Sandler expressed his admiration for his co-star from Happy Gilmore on Instagram, reminiscing about how he idolized Joe Flaherty during his youth. Flaherty’s iconic characters, like Count Floyd and Guy Caballero, never failed to bring laughter to Sandler and his brother. 

Sandler also fondly recalled Flaherty’s memorable role as a border guard in Stripes. He cherished the opportunity to share moments with Flaherty, even enjoying his playful heckling on the golf course. Sandler described Flaherty as a comedic genius and a genuinely kind-hearted individual, creating a perfect blend of talent and warmth. 

He extended his love and gratitude to Flaherty’s children, acknowledging his immense contribution to the comedy world.

Mark Hamill remembered Flaherty as one of the greatest sketch comedians in history.

Joe Flaherty faced health challenges before his death

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Flaherty’s journey in comedy began at The Second City in Chicago, where he honed his craft before making a significant impact on Canadian television. His talent wasn’t confined to the small screen; Flaherty also graced the silver screen with memorable appearances in films like Back to the Future II and Happy Gilmore.

Before his passing, Flaherty faced illness and decided to spend his final days at home rather than in a care facility. In a show of solidarity and support, his fellow SCTV colleagues turned to social media to raise funds for Flaherty through the Comedic Artists Alliance.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Flaherty is survived by his younger brother, Paul Flaherty, who wrote for SCTV and other shows like Muppets Tonight, and his children, Gabriel and Gudrun.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments