Who Was Joe Flaherty? Know More About The Freaks and Geeks Star Who Died At 82

Joe Flaherty passed away at the age of 82 after a "brief illness" and left a decades long legacy behind. Co-stars including Jennifer Tilly, Joel Murray and others pay tribute on social media

Published on Apr 02, 2024  |  09:41 PM IST |  42.7K
Getty Images
Joe Flaherty with SCTV Co-stars Robin Duke, Tony Rosato, and Dave Thomas (via Getty Images)

A comedic icon, Joe Flaherty, known for his roles in the Canadian sketch comedy SCTV, passed away on Monday at the age of 82. Upon the death of beloved Harold Weir [Flaherty] from Freaks and Greeks, co-stars and fans expressed their grief on social media. In honor of the late actor, here’s a rundown of his life and legacy!

Who was Joe Flaherty?

Flaherty, 82, was an actor, comedian, and writer born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1941. He was best known for playing oddball characters like Harold Weir in Freaks and Greeks and Owen Fergus in National Security. 

The comedian made his name through remarkable impressions on the Canadian sketch comedy SCTV. On the show, he impersonated many celebrities, including Kirk Douglas, Richard Nixon, Art Garfunkel, Gregory Peck, and Alan Alda, and played a myriad of characters. The SCTV alum started his comedy career through the Second City Theatre and eventually became a household name in the 70s and 80s. Before jumping into the acting world, he also served in the United States Air Force for four years. 


How did Joe Flaherty pass away?

After his death on April 1, his daughter, Gudrun, confirmed the news to Variety and released a statement in his memory. “After a brief illness, he left us yesterday, and since then, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this immense loss,” she said. 


Gudrun concluded her statement by reminiscing about her precious moments with her father. “In these last few months, as he faced his health challenges, we had the precious opportunity to watch many of those classic movies together — moments I will forever hold dear,” she said. 


Flaherty’s iconic roles, appearances and legacy

After working in the Second City Theatre, the actor appeared on National Lampoon Radio Hour with fellow theatre mates. Later, he started his own theatre troupe in Toronto called the Toronto Second City Theatre Troupe. This became a bridge to his breakthrough contribution to SCTV, where he served as an original writer and performer. 

He worked on sketch comedy for eight successful years and appeared on several other shows afterward. His roles included Cmdt. Stuart Hefilfinger in the Police Academy TV adaptation, a short role in Maniac Mansion, and Count Floyd in a short film.

But the most loved and memorable role was on the NBC sitcoms Freaks and Greeks as Harold Weir. Apart from being in the cult classic sitcom, the actor was part of some incredible movies in his later years. It included Happy Gilmore, Back to The Future Part II, The King of Queens, Clone High, Robson Arms, The Life & Times of Tim, and his appearances on Family Guy and Big Band Theory. 


Co-stars honor the late actor’s memories

Flaherty’s One Crazy Summer co-star Joel Murray paid tribute to the actor via a tweet on X. “We’ve lost another of my idols. RIP Joe Flaherty 1941-2024,” he captioned a picture of him with the late actor. 


Actress Jennifer Tilly recalls the SCTV alum playing her dad in The Wrong Guy and wrote, “Joe Flaherty played my dad in “The Wrong Guy.” I was so thrilled to be able to work with him. His performance was pitch perfect. A great comedian. Gone too soon.”

Happy Gilmore co-star Shooter McGavin said, “No one could have played the role of Donald like Joe Flaherty did.” 

“His comedic delivery was perfect and his role alone made Happy Gilmore the classic it is today. He will be missed. Rest easy Joe,” he wrote on X. 


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