Iconic comedian Joe Flaherty, known for 'Happy Gilmore' and 'SCTV', dies

 April 3, 2024

Iconic character actor Joe Flaherty, known for his work on the sketch comedy show SCTV and the cult classic series Freaks and Geeks, has died. He was 82.

In death, Flaherty is being remembered by his family and his colleagues in show business, including Adam Sandler and Martin Short. Flaherty's daughter Gudrun said he died following a brief illness.

“Dad was an extraordinary man, known for his boundless heart and an unwavering passion for movies from the ’40s and ’50s,” she said in a statement.

“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.”

Emmy-winning writer

The Pittsburgh native won fame as one of the founding cast members of SCTV, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

Flaherty won two Emmys for his writing on the show, which featured some of the leading comics of the era, including Martin Short and John Candy. Some of Flaherty's memorable roles on SCTV include Count Floyd, Guy Caballero, and Big Jim McBob.

“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,” Short wrote in a statement honoring Flaherty.

"In ‘SCTV’ we called him the anchor. In life, he was simply the funniest man in the room. I just adored him.”

Adam Sandler pays tribute

After SCTV, Flaherty had a memorable cameo in the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore as the heckler who is hired by Happy Gilmore's rival to throw off his golf game.

“Oh man. Worshipped Joe growing up," Sandler wrote on Instagram.

“Couldn’t be more fun to have him heckle me on the golf course. The nicest guy you could know. Genius of a comedian. And a true sweetheart. Perfect combo. Much love to his kids and thanks to Joe for all the greatness he gave us all.”

Flaherty also had a notable role as Harold Weir, the conservative father and sporting goods store owner in the short-lived comedy series Freaks and Geeks, which ran for one season from 1999 to 2000.

“So sad to hear about dear Joe," Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig wrote. "He was my TV dad and a true comedy hero."

Flaherty is survived by his daughter Gudrun, his son Gabriel and his brother Paul Flaherty, who wrote for SCTV. Joe Flaherty divorced his ex-wife Judith Flaherty in 1996.

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