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ACTOR JOHN CANDY, 43, DIES OF HEART ATTACK IN MEXICO

Published: Saturday, March 5 1994 12:00 a.m. MST

John Candy, the lovable, overweight comic actor who rose from television skits to starring roles in some of Hollywood's most successful comedies, died of a heart attack on a movie set in Mexico Friday. He was 43.

The star of "Uncle Buck," "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" and many other films was found dead at his residence during filming of the Western comedy "Wagons East" near Durango, Mexico, said Gary Goodman, the film's producer.Hector Partida, spokesman for the Durango state government, said Candy had a heart attack in his sleep and was dead when paramedics arrived.

The production of "Wagons East" was suspended. Candy played the drunken wagonmaster of an 1860s prairie schooner heading the wrong way.

Said co-star Richard Lewis: "Everyone should know that the night before he died, myself and (co-star) Robert Picardo were blessed to be in a scene with John Candy which showed all of us his genius."

It was unclear if the film could be completed, Goodman said.

Born and reared in Toronto, Candy co-starred in last year's "Cool Runnings," a hit film about the Jamaican bobsled team. He had a small part in the comedy blockbuster "Home Alone."

He appeared in the 1991 drama "Only the Lonely" and the comedies "Stripes," "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Splash" and "The Great Outdoors."

Candy recently completed directing a made-for-TV comedy, "Hostage for a Day," his debut behind the camera.

He was cast with Steve Martin in 1987's "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" as a slob whose Neanderthal habits disguise a lonely, tender man.

And in 1989's "Uncle Buck," Candy played a ne'er-do-well left in charge of his sister's rampaging children. The sentimental story showed that despite being a slob, Uncle Buck was in fact a loving guardian.

While he often played obnoxious characters, friends and colleagues said he was reserved and self-effacing.

"I've never been very comfortable talking about myself," he said in a 1991 interview with The Associated Press.

"John Candy was a gentleman and a great comic talent," Martin said. "I count myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him."

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