Adam Sandler, John Francis Daley Pay Tribute to ‘Happy Gilmore’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ Star Joe Flaherty

Joe Flaherty, who got his start in Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV and was best known for his roles as Harold Weir in Freaks and Geeks, Donald in Happy Gilmore and Western Union Man in Back to the Future Part II, died on Tuesday after battling an undisclosed illness. He was 82.

His death was confirmed to the Canadian press by his daughter Gudrun Flaherty. As reported in February, Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe organized a fundraiser to facilitate with the late actor’s health.

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The message on the fundraiser read, “Our beloved SCTV cast member, Joe Flaherty, is very ill. Joe is aware of the gravity of his failing health and would like to spend whatever time he has left at home rather than in a facility.”

Following the confirmation of his death, many of Flaherty’s co-stars and notable fans reacted to the news. His Freaks and Geeks co-star John Francis Daley, who starred as his son Sam in the cult classic series, wrote on X (formerly Twitter), “Joe Flaherty made me crack up so hard it ruined takes. My favorite days on set were the ones where we had scenes together. What a lovely guy.”

Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig also paid tribute to Flaherty on X, writing, “So sad to hear about dear Joe. He was my TV dad and a true comedy hero. 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.”

Adam Sandler shared of his Happy Gilmore co-star on Instagram, “Oh man. Worshipped Joe growing up. Always had me and my brother laughing. Count Floyd, Guy Caballero. Any move he made. 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.”

Read the tributes as they pour in, below.

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