‘SCTV’ star Joe Flaherty, a Pittsburgh native, has died at 82

Actor Joe Flaherty, in a promotional photo for the NBC show "Freaks and Geeks," 1999. (Getty Images)

By Associated Press

April 2, 2024

Flaherty established himself while working with Eugene Levy, Martin Short, and Catherine O’Hara on the classic Canadian sketch comedy show, and later had memorable roles in the Adam Sandler movie “Happy Gilmore,” and the cult favorite TV comedy “Freaks and Geeks.”

TORONTO — Comedian Joe Flaherty, a founding member of the beloved Canadian sketch series “SCTV,” has died. He was 82.

His daughter Gudrun said Tuesday that Flaherty died Monday following a brief illness.

Flaherty, who was born in Pittsburgh, spent seven years at The Second City in Chicago before moving north of the border to help establish the theater’s Toronto outpost.

He went on to star alongside John Candy and Catherine O’Hara in “SCTV,” about a fictional TV station known as Second City Television that was stacked with buffoons in front of and behind the cameras. Flaherty’s characters included network boss Guy Caballero, shallow talk show host Sammy Maudlin, and the vampiric TV host Count Floyd.

Former castmates also included Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, and Andrea Martin.

He won Emmys in 1982 and 1983 for his writing on “SCTV” and continued to work in TV and film for decades.

He was introduced to later generations through memorable turns as a jeering heckler in the 1996 film “Happy Gilmore” and as an old fashioned dad in the TV comedy “Freaks and Geeks,” which ran from 1999 to 2000.

“Oh man. Worshipped Joe growing up,” comedian Adam Sandler said on X.

“He crushed as border guard in Stripes. 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.”

After graduating from Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic High School, Flaherty joined the Air Force. He had taken a class at Pittsburgh Playhouse before enlisting, and after leaving the Air Force, he returned to the theater to take more classes, he told WESA Pittsburgh, in 2016.

Flaherty maintained deep ties to Toronto, serving as an artist-in-residence at Humber College.

“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. “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.”

Keystone senior community editor Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.

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