Joe Flaherty, Beloved Comic Actor, Dead At 82

By Brian Myers | Published

joe flaherty

Comedic actor Joe Flaherty, known for his zany characters in films like Happy Gilmore and One Crazy Summer, died on Monday April 1 at the age of 82. Flaherty’s One Crazy Summer costar, Joel Murray, took to X on Monday to announce the news of Flaherty’s passing and ushering in a multitude of condolences and fond memories posted by screen and television stars that had worked with the comedic legend over the decades. Flaherty’s cause of death has not yet been released.

Joe Flaherty’s Early Career

Joe Flaherty began his storied career as a member of the Second City Theater in the early 1970s before moving to Toronto seven years later to help start a Second City theater troupe there. While in Canada, Flaherty grew to fame as a writer and performer on SCTV, where he spent the next eight years on the sketch comedy show with the likes of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Harold Ramis. After the show ended its run in 1984, Flaherty enjoyed a long string of walk-on roles on various sitcoms, as well as memorable small parts in films now considered comedy classics.

Other Appearances

In Back to the Future II (1989), Joe Flaherty played the part of a Western Union agent tasked with giving Marty McFly a letter from Doc Brown that the agency had been holding since 1885. Flaherty has a notable role in the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore, where he plays a fan that has been paid by the title character’s golf rival to heckle during golf tournaments. Appearances on popular TV series like Married with Children, Phenom, and Dinosaurs kept the actor busy throughout the 1990s before he landed what is widely considered to be his most memorable part, as father Harold Weir in the 1999 NBC series Freaks and Geeks.

Voice Work

Joe Flaherty also had a successful career as a voice actor, appearing in a good number of animated shows over the last several decades. You’ll hear his voice in guest parts in everything from Family Guy to Teamo Supremo, and in two episodes of The Life and Times of Tim.

Comedy seemed to run in the blood of Joe Flaherty’s family. His brother Paul Flaherty was a writer for The Tracey Ullman Show, while his brother Dave was a co-writer on SCTV.


joe flaherty

Joe Flaherty was considered to be one of the best comedic impressionists in the business, a talent that was showcased many times over throughout the lengthy run of SCTV. Among the celebrity and political personalities he took on were Don Knotts, Geraldo Rivera, Yassir Arafat, Richard Nixon, Art Garfunkel, Slim Whitman, Prince Phillip, and Hugh Hefner.

A Writer As Well As An Actor

joe flaherty

While acting was a skill he will likely be the most remembered for, Joe Flaherty was also a gifted writer. During his tenure at SCTV, he was nominated for Best Comedy Writing for the 1984 Cable Ace Awards. Additionally, Flaherty’s writing led to nine Prime Time Emmy nominations, two of which he won for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.

Surviving Joe Flaherty are his children, actress Gudrun Flaherty and his son Gabriel. The actor is also survived by his ex-wife of 22 years, Judith Dagley.

Sources: TV Insider