John Mahoney, the veteran actor best known for playing the cantankerous father on the 90s NBC hit Frasier, has died at 77 on Sunday.
Mahoney’s longtime manager, Paul Martino, said Monday that Mahoney died in Chicago after a brief spell in hospital.
The cause of death was not immediately announced.
The British-born actor starred as Martin Crane alongside his on-screen sons Kelsey Grammer, who played the titular Frasier, and David Hyde Pierce, who played Niles, in the sitcom for a whopping 11 seasons, from 1993 to 2004.
The sitcom’s casting director, Jeff Greenberg, tweeted: ‘I’ve not known a kinder man nor more brilliant actor. We were all blessed to have spent 11 glorious years together.’
US actress Peri Gilpin, who appeared alongside him throughout Frasier‘s 263 episodes, tweeted a picture of Mahoney singing at her wedding, adding: ‘Watch Moonstruck, Say Anything and/or Frasier or anything you can with him in it and raise a glass to John. Remember him well.’
Mahoney’s former co-star Ben Stiller tweeted: ‘John Mahoney has moved on. A Great actor. Incredible wicked sense of humor. And someone who made a huge difference in my life and many others.’
In 2000, Mahoney was awarded a SAG Award for his work on the show, and was also nominated for two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.
Besides starring in the hugely popular sitcom, John also had a lucrative film career, with roles in productions including The American President, Say Anything, and Eight Men Out.
Most recently, John had a recurring role in TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland, where he appeared as Roy in six episodes between 2011 and 2014.
His last TV appearance was in Foyle’s War in 2015, where he played Andrew Del Mar.
Aside from his careers in film and television, John was also active in theatre, and won a Tony in 1986.
John was intensely private about his personal life, but is thought to have never married nor had children, despite previously claiming to have been in several relationships.
‘The theater is my brothers, my sisters, my father, my mother, my wife,’ he once explained. ‘It is everything to me.’
However, it is for Martin Crane, the grumpy ex-cop father of Frasier and Niles Crane that John Mahoney is best known.
Starring in Frasier alongside Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce for 11 years, the show was originally a spin-off from the mega-hit Cheers.
However, Frasier became one of the most successful follow-on shows in history securing 37-Primetime Emmy Awards – which in 2004 was a record for any television show.
Playing an ex-Seattle cop forced by injury to gate-crash his son’s luxury lifestyle, the clash of salt-of-the-earth police officer and cultured psychiatrist provided the crux of the witty comedy the show became known for.
‘I’m very proud to have ‘Frasier’ as my television legacy,’ Mahoney told the Associated Press in 2014. ‘I’ve done a lot of good television myself. But still I think nothing can quite compare to ‘Frasier.”
Mahoney was born in 1940 the seventh of eight children in Blackpool, England after his family left their family home in Manchester to avoid Germany bombing during the Second World War.
Indeed, his early life in Manchester allowed him to school fellow Brit Jane Leeves in getting the city accent right for her Frasier character, Daphne Moon, a kooky physical therapist from Lancashire.
Mahoney moved to the United States as a teenager with his sister Vera and he studied at Quincy University in Illinois and joined the US Army, which helped him become a citizen in 1959.
‘It was so bleak and dark in England — those gray and foggy postwar years,’ he previously told the Chicago Tribune.
‘In the United States, it was so sunny. The people smiled.’
He worked through the 1960s and 1970s as a former Midwestern medical-magazine editor and he quit his job there in his late 30s to take up his passion of acting.
‘There was this deep-seated frustration,’ he told the Chicago Tribune. ‘I knew that the only place I had ever been really happy was on stage.’
John Malkovich encouraged him to join the famed Steppenwolf Theater revue of Chicago soon after and then moved to New York to further his burgeoning career.
His first role was in 1977 David Mamet’s Water Engine.
Mahoney became noted for an off-Broadway production of Orphans directed by Gary Sinise and he received a Theater World Award for that performance in 1985.
He would later claim that show ‘kicked off my career’.
The next year in 1986, Mahoney won the Tony Award for for his performance in a revival of John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves. The production was aired on PBS’ Theatre in America series.
The prestigious award opened his career up to the world of film and television and he appeared in 1987 in Barry Levison’s Tin Men, alongside Richard Dreyfuss.
He then appeared in the Cher and Nicolas Cage vehicle, Moonstruck, in which he played a depressed college professor always sleeping with his students.
In 1988 he would appear as the manager of the White Sox in Eight Men Out and then alongside John Cusack in Say Anything in 1988.
He admitted that he was concerned about taking on Frasier because he had previously appeared on television shows canceled after only a few episodes.
However, he realized upon reading the script that Martin Crane was his defining role.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered a statement on Monday in response to the news and said that Mahoney was a fixture of the city for more than 30 years and was known for his ‘countless award-winning performances.’
‘Even as his fame grew through his fantastic work in movies and television, John stayed connected to his artistic home here in Chicago in theaters and as a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company,’ Emanuel said. ‘Though he will be missed, his work and impact will endure for generations to come.’
In addition to his work in film and television, he also appeared as voice talent in the animated movies, Antz in 1997, The Iron Giant in 1999 and Atlantis: The Lost Empire in 2001.
After finishing his run on Frasier in 2004, Mahoney declined many starring roles, instead returning to the Steppenwold Theater Company.
‘Chicago is always home,’ Mahoney said of the city according to NBC Chicago. ‘No matter what, I wanted to come back to Chicago during those four months off. What better thing to do than do a play with my friends at Steppenwolf?’
SOURCE: Daily Mail