Rob Ford, the flamboyant former mayor of Toronto who became a late-night joke staple after a scandal-filled term of parties and drugs, died of cancer Tuesday. He was 46. Ford had battled a rare form of cancer that was made public in 2014 as he was making a bid to run again for mayor.
During his 2010-2014 term, Ford was the focus of a police probe over substance abuse allegations. He eventually admitted to all of it, including smoking crack cocaine, driving drunk and hiring prostitutes. The news of the mayor’s wild life hit a chord in the U.S. and overseas, with Ford becoming the punch line for all the late-night talk shows. (Will Ferrell, to promote Anchorman 2, even summoned his Ron Burgundy sing a campaign song he wrote for Ford on Conan.)
Ford and his brother Doug hosted a Canadian reality TV show Ford Nation. It was canceled after one episode, which aired the week before Ford was stripped of most of his mayoral powers owing to the scandal. The pair also had a radio show that was shuttered amid the investigation.
At the height of Ford’s notoriety, he was in Los Angeles to attend the Oscars in 2014 and was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which included a bit where Kimmel picked him up personally at the airport. His appearance was one of the biggest late-night talkers of that TV season.
As a politician Ford was a populist, sweeping to the Toronto mayor’s office after 10 years on the city council. He was no stranger to ruffling feathers even before the drug probe, admission and rehab stint: According to the Toronto Star‘s obit today, Ford’s “seemingly endless controversy” in office included “his use of city staff to coach football and calling police on a comedian at his house.”
Ford was re-elected to his old Councillor seat after his cancer diagnosis.