Joe Flaherty, 'Freaks and Geeks' and 'SCTV' star, dies at 82

Joe Flaherty, the two-time Emmy-winning actor best known for his work in comedies including Canadian sketch comedy show “SCTV,” died on Monday after a brief illness. He was 82.

Flaherty’s daughter, Gudrun, confirmed his death on Tuesday to the Associated Press.

The comedian, actor and writer was also known for his role as Lindsay and Sam’s beloved dad, Harold Weir, on “Freaks and Geeks.” He also played a heckler to Adam Sandler’s titular character in “Happy Gilmore.” Flaherty’s most lasting contribution to comedy, though, was through his work with the Second City.

Flaherty began his comedy career at Second City’s Chicago location, where he wrote and performed in multiple revues over seven years. In those performances, he starred alongside Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis and John Belushi. Flaherty later moved to Toronto to help develop a new Second City location.

While he was in Canada, Flaherty also starred in and wrote for “SCTV,” working with comedic legends John Candy, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. He was nominated for nine Primetime Emmy Awards for his writing on the show, winning twice in 1982 and 1983. His work on the series is regarded highly to this day, from his impressions of Richard Nixon and Gregory Peck, to his original characters Big Jim McBob, Guy Caballero and Count Floyd.

Flaherty continued work in film and television long after his time on “SCTV,” appearing in “Back to the Future II,” “One Crazy Summer,” “National Security,” “Family Guy,” “The King of Queens” and more.

“Dad was an extraordinary man, known for his boundless heart and an unwavering passion for movies from the ’40s and ’50s,” his daughter wrote in Tuesday’s statement, according to AP. “Cinema wasn’t merely a hobby for him; it profoundly influenced his career, particularly his unforgettable time with ‘SCTV.’ He cherished every moment spent on the show, so proud of its success and so proud to be part of an amazing cast.”

Flaherty’s former castmates and collaborators, including Adam Sandler and Martin Short, shared tributes to the actor. Sandler wrote on Instagram Tuesday morning that he “worshiped” Flaherty growing up and that it “couldn’t be more fun to have him heckle me on the golf course,” referring to their infamous scene together in “Happy Gilmore.”

“The nicest guy you could know. Genius of a comedian. And a true sweetheart. Perfect combo,” Sandler’s post continued. “Much love to his kids and thanks to Joe for all the greatness he gave us all.

“Freaks and Geeks” creator Paul Feig also shared a tribute on X, writing that he was “so sad to hear about dear Joe.”

“He was my TV dad and a true comedy hero,” his post continued. “Always happy to tell any story about your favorite ‘SCTV’ sketch, he was just the greatest guy. I will truly miss him and always be grateful to have known him. Rest in comedy, Joe.”

Short, who was involved in a fundraiser to cover some of Flaherty’s medical expenses prior to his death, said in a statement to The Times that the actor was the “anchor” of “SCTV.”

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

Short worked with the Comedic Artists Alliance, an organization dedicated to financially helping comedy creators going through challenges, including illness, to support Flaherty and his daughter, who was his caretaker.

It’s not the first time “SCTV” cast and crew members have banded together to support their peers. In 2008, Flaherty and co-stars Short, O’Hara, Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy reunited on stage for the first time in 24 years to raise money for a former member of the “SCTV” production staff who was ill and had hefty medical bills.

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