Actor and comedian Joe Flaherty dies at 82


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Joe Flaherty performs on stage during Second City’s 20th anniversary show in Chicago, 1979.

Joe Flaherty, the American actor and comedian known for his roles in Freaks and Geeks and the comedy series SCTV, has died at the age of 82.

Flaherty’s death was announced by his daughter, Gudrun, who said it came after a “brief illness.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Flaherty got his start in comedy as part of the Chicago improv group The Second City.

His career spanned nearly five decades, with credits on many beloved television comedies such as Frasier and Family Guy.

In a statement, Gudrun said her father had an “unwavering passion for the films of the ’40s and ’50s,” which influenced his career.

He added that he especially liked his time at SCTV.

“He cherished every moment he spent on the show, very proud of its success and very proud to be part of an incredible cast,” he said.

Comedian Martin Short, Flaherty’s former SCTV castmate, said in a statement: “There were very few people as wise or hilarious when it came to comedy, teaching improv, and the art of character work as Joe .

“At SCTV we called him the host. In life, he was just the funniest man in the room. I just adored him.”

After eight years at SCTV, Flaherty was cast in the teen comedy-drama Freaks and Greeks as Harold Weir, the father of two awkward teenagers.

The series was canceled after a single season, but later became a cult classic and launched the careers of several young actors, including James Franco, Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini.

Flaherty was also known for a small but memorable role in the 1996 film Happy Gilmore, where he played an interlocutor who mocks the titular golfer, played by Adam Sandler.

The actor was beloved not only in his native United States, but also in Canada, where he later moved to launch the Toronto branch of the improv group The Second City.

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SCTV cast members including Joe Flaherty (far left) around his star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto, Canada.

He appeared in several Canadian sitcoms and had a guest appearance on the Canadian comedy show Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Co-stars remembered Flaherty as a kind and talented comedian.

In a post on Instagram, Adam Sandler said he “adored Joe growing up.”

“Couldn’t be more fun having him interrupt me on the golf course. The nicest guy you’ll ever meet. A genius of a comedian. And a true sweetheart. Perfect combination,” Sandler wrote.

“Much love to your children and thanks to Joe for all the greatness he gave to us all.”

“I was very excited to work with him,” wrote Jennifer Tilly, who starred alongside Flaherty in the 1997 film The Wrong Guy.

“His performance was perfect. A great comedian. He left too soon.”

Flaherty was married to Judith Dagley for 22 years until their divorce in 1996. He leaves two children, Gudrun and Gabriel Flaherty.

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