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The Untold Truth Of Happy Gilmore

Many great stories are inspired by lived experiences and "Happy Gilmore" is a prime example. When coming up with ideas for the story, Adam Sandler turned to one of his Happy places, spending quality time with his dad. The end result is one of the most hilarious golf movies of all time, which answers the question of what happens when a hockey mentality collides with the high society sport.

Even though Sandler's manchild brand of humor started with his previous film, "Billy Madison," one could argue that the comedian enhanced it with Happy since he brought more heart to the character. While he's still an immature ass in many circumstances, Happy is motivated by the desire to help his grandma and save her home, which makes him a more relatable and likable protagonist than Billy. And even though it was early in the comedian's career, "Happy Gilmore" remains one of his best films. A lot of love and dedication went into making the movie, which is clear from the inside stories revealed below. 

Adam Sandler's love of golf led to Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler's father, Stanley, was such an avid golfer that after he retired at 54, he spent a considerable amount of his free time on the links. Naturally, he often took his son with him, so Sandler grew to love the game as well, especially after watching the classic comedy "Caddyshack." Years later, it only made sense that he'd write his own wacky story taking place on the course. So, Sandler and his cowriting pal Tim Herlihy started brainstorming ideas — and it was one unique outing with his dad that served as inspiration.

When golfing with his father in New Hampshire as a teen, the comedian brought along his friend Kyle McDonough who would later become a professional hockey player. In his biography, "Adam Sandler: America's Comedian," the actor recalled, "[Kyle] didn't really know how to play, he just smacked the ball real far." But just like with Happy in the film, that skill was enough to dominate everyone and even beat Sandler's dad.

In an interview on the "Dan Patrick Show," the comedian joked that his father may have liked Kyle more than his own son. He said, "My father loved Kyle so much. It was like, Kyle was the only guy in my life that I'd be like 'Dad, remember I'm your kid, man.'"

Christopher McDonald almost passed on the role of Shooter McGavin

After "Happy Gilmore," Christopher McDonald has often been associated with his iconic role as the villain Shooter McGavin, so it might be hard to believe that he originally turned down the part not just once, but twice. When talking with And So it Begins..., McDonald explained, "I was tired, I wanted to see more of my family. But then I played a round of golf in Seattle, and we won. And that high was something else. So, with my golf shoes still on, I went in the locker room, called my agent and said, 'Is that golf movie still available, because I just won this tournament and I'm feeling a little bit, well, Shooterish.'"

McDonald then met with Adam Sandler and quickly decided to appear in the film because the comedian made him laugh nearly their entire conversation. Director Dennis Dugan wanted McDonald for the role so badly that he made sure the actor's family could come live near the production, which also influenced his decision to take the part.

Ed McMahon might have kicked Happy Gilmore's butt instead

One of the best scenes of "Happy Gilmore" was when his arguments with Bob Barker escalated into a full-blown fist fight. The gameshow host was impressive in his beat down on the lead character, but Barker was not the primary choice for the memorable cameo. When talking on the "Dan Patrick Show," Adam Sandler revealed that when his writing buddy Tim Herlihy was working on the script, Ed McMahon was who he originally had in mind.

At first, Sandler simply said that when they reached out to McMahon, he said "no." However, when pressed on if he was really contacted, the comedian added, "I doubt he got it. I think we heard something like it's too vulgar or something like that. But I think the script was a little rougher, we cursed a little bit more. And then when Ed said no, we dialed it down a bit for Bob Barker."

Bob Barker has been happy to destroy Adam Sandler more than once

When Bob Barker was asked to make what would later become the most popular cameo in "Happy Gilmore," he had already spent years training with martial arts expert Chuck Norris, as well as karate champion and fight choreographer Pat Johnson. The gameshow host joked that his experience honing his skills over those many years is why he accepted the part. 

In "Adam Sandler: America's Comedian," Barker explained, "And, of course, in twenty years I never won a fight. They both beat me up. So, when they offered me this script, I said, 'I'll do it,' because I win the fight."

Adam Sandler recalled how early in the morning on the day of filming the classic showdown, Barker was stretching and getting ready for the fight in the bitter cold like a boss. On the other hand, Barker admitted that he thought he was going to get killed form pneumonia, so he added, "Next time I'd like to work inside. And I told Adam the other night that when he makes 'Happy Gilmore II' that I would like more money and I want a love scene in my next picture."

Since Barker has reached the impressive age of 98, he may not be able to appear in a future sequel. On the other hand, fans got to see a hilarious, epic second round of fighting (indoors) with Sandler on Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars."

The writers feud over who wrote the best joke of the film

For many of Adam Sandler's classic hits, including "Happy Gilmore," his old college roommate and close friend, Tim Herlihy, was there as his partner in crime writing much of the comedy. One of the reasons that the two have worked so well together is because they respect each other's ideas. In an interview with Esquire, Herlihy explained, "SNL teaches you to be very generous with credit for stuff. To take credit for someone else's joke is a s*****, s***** thing to do. Adam is really good about that. If I say, 'That's a good idea, Adam,' then he'll say, 'Well, actually so and so gave me that joke.' It's a responsibility to be upfront about it."

There is one joke, however, that neither comedy writer is willing to admit the other one came up with, which just so happens to be one of the funniest lines in the movie when Shooter McGavin accidentally blurts out, "I eat pieces of s*** like you for breakfast." Herlihy is completely positive he wrote that, but also says, "And Adam is equally sure that he wrote that joke," so the disagreement lives on.

Happy Gilmore led to Happy Madison Productions

In the late '90s, Adam Sandler cowrote and starred in a string of hits like "The Wedding Singer," "Bid Daddy," and "The Waterboy," but that success had to start somewhere, and it happened to be at a difficult moment in his life. After five years on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," the comedian was fired from the show and admitted that at the time he was both sad and angry over how it all played out. 

On "The Howard Stern Show," Sandler said, "I remember when I saw Farley, and he said 'Me too, they don't want me either,' we were both like 'f*** this s***.' We got mad together, pretended we weren't sad, pretended this was for the best" (via CNBC).

Yet just a few months before his final "SNL" performance in 1995, "Billy Madison" was released with massive success at the box office with $25.6 million. Sandler then followed up his first film with "Happy Gilmore" in 1996, which raked in even more cash at $41.2 million. With how great their first two projects turned out, the movie star and his writing partner, Tim Herlihy, gained the confidence to establish their own film company, Happy Madison Productions in 1999.

Chubbs was originally written for John Amos, not Carl Weathers

There are so many memorable characters in "Happy Gilmore," but one of the best was Chubbs, played by Carl Weathers. However, just like how Ed McMahon was the first choice before the writing duo went with Bob Barker, Carl Weathers was also not who Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy had in mind at first.

Decades later, Amos appeared in "Uncut Gems" starring Sandler and the truth was revealed. In an interview with Vulture, the two directors the film, brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, explained how Sandler and Herlihy approached the executives at Universal for their plan for Chubbs, by saying, "And then the studio is like, 'Love John Amos, but what about Carl Weathers?' Sandler and Herlihy were like, 'Well, we love Carl Weathers, but we kind of wrote it for John Amos.' The studio is like, 'It's gonna be Carl Weathers.' It was very brief in time, but they talked to Amos about it."

Amos would later confirm his brief involvement with the film to Insider and said, "There was talk about it at one time. From what I remember I even did a screen test. It was up in Canada. It never worked out, but no hard feelings." But the actor also admitted that he has never seen "Happy Gilmore," or watched other movies he didn't get to appear in because it might stir up sad feelings over roles he missed out on.

Carl Weathers keeps losing his right hand

Aside from his classic performance as Chubbs in "Happy Gilmore," Carl Weathers is also well-known for his role as badass Colonel Al Dillon in "Predator," alongside action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the film, the duo are part of a military team sent into South America but are caught completely unprepared when they encounter an extremely advanced alien with horrific technology. Spoilers ahead, but Weathers' character Dillon didn't fare too well in his fight with the lethal, sci-fi creature hunting the group of human warriors, which resulted in the loss of his right arm.

Fast forward to the Adam Sandler flick nearly a decade later and Carl Weathers' Chubbs also had some terrible luck with a nasty creature. This time he got into a brutal confrontation with an alligator, and the animal ended up taking the hand from his right arm, the same one shot off in "Predator." VH1 says that this coincidence was most likely an inside joke and a nod to fans of the sci-fi action classic.

Lee Trevino regretted his cameos in the film

Stars like Carl Weathers, Christopher McDonald, and Bob Barker are very glad they got involved with "Happy Gilmore," but golfer Lee Trevino had a very different opinion about the project. The pro athlete made a few memorable, though mostly silent, cameos throughout the film, yet he did point out to Shooter McGavin that "Grizzly Adams DID have a beard."

The goofy, brief scenes with the golfer are great examples of what gives the movie some of its charm, and the film would be a little less without them. With that said, it is fortunate that Trevino did not read the script because if he had, he would not have chosen to appear in "Happy Gilmore." The pro golfer told CBS-19, "If they were going to use all those foul words in there, I never would have done it" (via Yahoo! Sports).

Allen Covert is friends with Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler is not just famous for starring in his own hit comedies, but the comedian is also known for basically having an entourage of fellow actor friends who appear in many of his films. Many have side roles or cameos in Sandler flicks, but some have also been featured as the lead, especially ones made by Happy Madison Productions.

One close friend in particular not only had a supporting part in all of Sandler's top movies early on, but he then got the opportunity to star in "Grandma's Boy" in 2006. Allen Covert met Sandler in a comedy class when they were students at NYU and the two have been friends ever since, according to PopEntertainment.com. Even though he had small roles in films with Sandler before "Happy Gilmore," like "Airheads" and "Bulletproof," the golf comedy was the first project written by the famous comedian that Covert appeared in as the caddy Otto.

Pro golfers love the signature Happy Gilmore swing

"Happy Gilmore" is now among the top golf comedies like "Caddyshack," and among its many fans are pro golfers themselves. In the interview for the "Dan Patrick Show," Christopher McDonald talked about how when he golfs with the pros, not only do they love the movie, but a lot of them think it is fun to try the signature Happy style swing. The actor explained, "I meet Rory McIlroy, I meet all these great players. J.T., you know, D.J., all these guys and they all try that shot. They all do it, they think it's the funniest thing in the world."

The odd method is a legal way to swing too, as McDonald added, "Anything you do behind the ball, apparently, is legal. And so, these guys are crushing it and I'm going, 'God, they're good athletes.' But you know, that's what it takes. It takes a good athlete to hit that shot."

Happy Gilmore and Shooter McGavin are down to make a sequel

As one of Adam Sandler's most popular films, fans have been clamoring for a sequel to "Happy Gilmore" for quite some time and it looks like they just might get one in the near future. In 2021, the comedian posted a video on Twitter performing the signature Happy shot and saying, "OK... it's been 25 years since I've done this. Let's see what happens. I'm scared. Shooter McGavin – this is for you." But after crushing the ball, he added, "That went pretty well. You're dead, Shooter" (via Boss Hunting).

In only a few hours, Christopher McDonald responded with his own video message on Twitter and said, "Nice drive, Gilmore. 25 years, huh? Let's see if it's Shooter's tour. Oh yeah... it's all about the short game. Drive for show, putt for the dough." And after hitting the shot for an indoor putt, he added, "Money. Shooter's still got it."

Then a few days later on the "Dan Patrick Show," Sandler was asked about a possible sequel and answered, "It has not been discussed, but it has certainly been discussed on the internet. Believe me – that Senior Tour idea, it would be so amazing." When pressed on if that meant the next movie was happening, the comedian said, "Yes, you can greenlight this." But he still seemed a little reluctant until McDonald confirmed he was in and added, "Yes, I would love to do it. Everyone's been screaming for it, like Adam said, on the internet. I just gotta say, it would be a complete blast. The Senior Tour with us too, oh my God."