Canadian comic thesp John Candy died unexpectedly March 4 of a heart attack on location in Durango, Mexico, where he was shooting “Wagons East” for Carolco Pictures.

Candy was 43.

Details of the comedian’s death were sketchy late March 4. A publicist for Carolco, which is making the pic for TriStar Pictures, confirmed the death, but did not reveal a cause. However, a Durango government spokeswoman said the comedian died of a heart attack.

“We are all very saddened by the death of this very fine and talented man,” a Carolco statement said. “John Candy was a marvelous entertainer, a wonderful human being and one of the most respected actors in the motion picture and TV industry. For this to happen at the end of the shoot of ‘Wagons East’ makes it particularly personal for all of us.”

Sources on the set of “Wagons East” said production would shut down at least through the weekend, but producers Gary Goodman, Barry Rosen, Robert Newmyer and Jeffrey Silver would have to decide whether the pic can still be made.

Under Peter Markle’s helm, the pic has been shooting in Durango for 10 weeks with just 10 more days to go. It also stars Richard Lewis, Ellen Greene and John C. McGinley. TriStar is handling domestic distrib, while Carolco will distrib foreign.

Sources said Candy had only a minimal role in the scenes that have yet to be shot. “In terms of work, it wasn’t like he was in every scene,” said the source.

Meanwhile, Hollywood was stunned by the premature death of the star of such hits as “Cool Runnings,””Uncle Buck,””Planes, Trains, Automobiles” and “Splash.”

Brian Grazer, prexy of Imagine Films, which produced “Splash,” called the death “incredibly tragic and a really big loss” to the filmmaking community.

“I think we feel like he was one of the most talented comedians and actors in the last two decades,” Grazer said. “He was really a good friend of mine. I love him and I feel badly … There should be some kind of homage to the guy.”

The actor was last seen in 1993’s B.O. hit “Cool Runnings” about the Jamaican bobsled team.

Other acting roles included the 1991 drama “Only the Lonely” and the comedies “Stripes,””National Lampoon’s Vacation,””Three Amigos!” and “The Great Outdoors.”

An Emmy-winner in 1981 and ’82, Candy drew a cult following for his many offbeat roles in the Canadian “SCTV” series, which aired from 1977 to 1980. In 1981, the show moved to network television as the “SCTV Network.”

Candy starred on “SCTV” with Andrea Martin, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas.

Candy studied journalism in college in Toronto, where he was born, but was drawn to drama when he started getting small parts in plays and radio shows on campus.

A sports fan, Candy co-owned the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and was reportedly interested in buying the squad outright from co-owners Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall and hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

Candy is survived by his wife, Rosemary Margaret Hobor, daughter Jennifer and son Christopher.

* * *

Anita Morris

Anita Morris, comedic actress known for roles that displayed her good-natured sexuality, died March 3 in Los Angeles after a brief battle with cancer. She was 50.

She was perhaps best known for her role in the Broadway musical “Nine,” an award-winning performance that helped her gain recognition.

Morris began her career in the American Mime Theatre where her face was frequently hidden behind masks, her expression limited to her body.

A chance to appear in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” opened up doors for her.

Featured roles followed in such plays and musicals as “Seesaw,””The Magic Show,””Rachel Lily Rosenbloom,””Sugar Babies” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

For her role in “Nine,” she received a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award nomination.

She appeared in 12 films including “The Hotel New Hampshire,””Maria’s Lover, “”Absolute Beginners,””Ruthless People,””18 Again,””Blue City” and “Me and the Kid.” She will appear in the yet-to-be released George Lucas film, “Radioland Murders.”

Survivors include her husband, director Grover Dale; a son, James; her parents, J.B. and Eloise; and brothers Byron and Douglas.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Anita Morris Scholarship Fund established at the Los Angeles-based Choreographers Resourcenter, 350 South Roxbury Dr., Beverly Hills, CA, 90212.

* * *

Charles Woodward

Charles Woodward, who helped produce successful Broadway and Off Broadway productions, died Feb. 23 in New York of cancer. He was 71.

With his late partner Richard Barr, he was involved in such musicals and plays as “Boys in the Band,””Sweeney Todd,””The Front Page,””The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” and “All Over.”

His first production was “Johnny No-Trump,” starring Sada Thompson and Bernadette Peters at the Cort Theatre.

Other productions Woodward was involved in included “Watercolor, “”Criss-crossing,””What the Butler Saw,””Drat!” and “The Grass Harp.”

Survivors include a brother and a sister.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Woodward’s name to the Actors’ Fund of America, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036.

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