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Many of us dream of fame and fortune, of being alive on the big screen. Rick Moranis achieved the dream.
Moranis loved comedy and became a reluctant actor after being discovered on SCTV. First, he worked as a DJ in Toronto and began doing comedy specials for radio. Then, he was cast in several TV comedy pilots before being invited to join the cast of SCTV, Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live. In 1980, he was working alongside the biggest names in comedy: Steve Martin, John Candy and Martin Short.
He grew up in a traditional household and laughs about his father telling him: “You can be absolutely anything you want. A doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant.” He wasn’t interested in any of those choices. Moranis’ greatest talent was improvisation. His radio career began at age 16 when he took over a spot in the back room for his cousin, pulling albums, spinning records, doing the paperwork. Eventually, he began making suggestions to the deejays about what to talk about or how to introduce an album. He had a quirky sense of humor, and the deejays loved it. So, they asked him if he wanted to be on the air. As Moranis started college, he began writing what he describes as “terrible stuff,” but he had found a creative outlet and began to explore it.
It wasn’t until Moranis saw an old friend doing stand-up comedy that the path opened up for him. He and another buddy put together 30 minutes of material, stitched it into a series of sketches and did the routine at a comedy club in Toronto. People loved it.
When Moranis told his parents, he recalls, “My father nearly fell into his soup.” His parents would soon support his career choice, and Moranis moved rapidly into stardom, from sketches to blockbuster movies like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Moranis plays hapless inventor and devoted father Wayne Szalinski, who shrinks his own children with an experimental ray gun. Much of the film involves Szalinski looking for his children in the backyard that has become a jungle to them. When he finally finds them and returns them to normal size, there is a wonderful family reunion. And not only does the family experience bigger-than-normal emotions, Szalinski uses the ray gun to oversize their meal as well.
This might be a clue as to why Moranis left show business. In 1986, he married Ann Belsky, and they had two children. Sadly, Ann died of cancer only five years after they were married. “I’m a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage to raise my kids and to do the traveling involved in making movies,” Moranis said. Turns out, he had an oversized love for his children that meant more to him than stardom.
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