David Canary – Wall of Champions

Story by Bill Porrini

Wow?  David Canary: Alias Candy, Bonanza; Stuart Chandler, All My Children; Russ Gehring, Peyton Place; Dundee, Cimeron Strip; Cultrane, S.W.A.T.; and on and on; 35 TV shows in all!

David was an acclaimed and accomplished actor, starring on TV, in dinner theater, and on and off Broadway.  But he first starred as an acclaimed Massillon Tiger.  Born in Elwood, Indiana, he moved to Massillon at age five and grew up there.  As a Tiger, he played both ways, at offensive and defensive end, and was awarded 2nd Team All-Ohio honors following his senior year, in 1955, on a team that finished second on the state.  He attributed his success to his work ethic, which he learned while traversing through the city’s various schools.  He always gave 120 percent every time the ball was snapped.  He said he wasn’t very fast or big.  But he was a good student of the game because he had to be.  He just did what the coaches said and learned the fundamentals and tried as hard as possible on every play.  He said, “I owe a lot to football!”  He also played baseball for the Tigers.  High school friends called him “A nice guy, a humble guy.”

“Dave Canary was the toughest, hardest-nosed kid I ever coached.  One night he blocked an extra point against Mansfield that preserved a 12-12 tie.  He blocked it with his face.  He ruptured a blood vessel in his eye and his eye was shut.  He just kept right on going.  He was solid as a rock and tough.  Intelligent.  He knew what he wanted to do.” – Former Massillon coach Tom Harp,

After graduating, David continued his athletic career at The University of Cincinnati on a football scholarship.  There, he continued to play both ways.  In spite of having a small stature for a lineman (5’-11”, 172 lbs.) he was good enough to be named All-Conference.  He was also a fine student and was recognized as a Pop Warner Academic All-American.  At the end of this time at Cincinnati, Canary graduated with a degree in Voice, and was then selected in the second round of the American Football League draft by Denver.  Only, tired of football, he instead joined the Army, where he was also a member of the theater group.  He even won an All-Army entertainment contest.

Following discharge, it was time to tackle his loves: theater, music and performing, becoming a regular or appearing in 35 different TV shows.   In fact, he spent his entire career starring in TV, Off-Broadway, Broadway and Dinner Theater.  Dave often returned to Massillon to visit and perform, usually at the local Carousel Dinner Theater.

In 1964 Canary was inducted into the Massillon Wall of Champions.  In 1991 he was honored as a Washington High School Distinguished Citizen.  Then, in 2016 inducted into the Massillon Football Hall of Fame.  He died on December 16, 2015, at the age of 71.