'Geeks and Freaks' actor Joe Flaherty dies at age 82

 April 3, 2024

Comedic actor Joe Flaherty, best known for Canadian series "SCTV" and "Freaks and Geeks," died Monday at age 82 after a brief illness.

Flaherty's daughter Gundrum said about her father's passing,

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

Flaherty wrote and performed on the two-time Emmy-winning sketch comedy show "Second City Television," or "SCTV," with John Candy, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short between 1976 and 1984.

Short said about his longtime friend, “In over 50 years of our friendship, there were very few people as wise or hilarious when it came to comedy, teaching improvisation and the art of character work as Joe. In ‘SCTV’ we called him the anchor. In life, he was simply the funniest man in the room. I just adored him.”

Flaherty's career

Flaherty was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and started his career in Chicago, performing with "The Second City" improv troupe. He acted with John Belushi and performed in the National Lampoon Radio Hour with Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, and others.

Some of his film and television credits include “Back to the Future II,” “Happy Gilmore,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “One Crazy Summer,” "Frasier," “Family Guy” and “The King of Queens.”

He relocated to Toronto and established "Second City Toronto" there, which led to "SCTV."

Besides writing on the show, he did celebrity impressions of Kirk Douglas, Richard Nixon, Art Garfunkel, Gregory Peck and Alan Alda. He also played original characters SCTV president Guy Caballero, Big Jim McBob and Count Floyd, among others.

"He cherished every moment spent on the show, so proud of its success and so proud to be part of an amazing cast," his daughter said.

In a post on Instagram, Adam Sandler said he "worshipped Joe growing up" and that he was a "genius as a comedian."

Loving father

The Comedic Artists Alliance of which he was a part raised money for him to have home care when he became ill, since he didn't want to live in a facility.

His daughter said Flaherty was a loving father who would be greatly missed.

"No matter the occasion, he was always there to offer a laugh or wisdom when I needed it most," she said. "His absence has left a void in my life that feels insurmountable at the moment. As I try to navigate through this grieving process, I take solace in the memories we shared and the incredible impact he had on those around him. His spirit, humor and love will be a part of me forever.

She continued, "My dad was a kind, sweet soul who blessed all who knew him and those who loved his work. Thank you to everyone who cared for him; he loved that he was able to make people laugh. He will be so deeply missed, but we are eternally grateful to God for him being in our lives.”

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