John Mahoney, the cranky and blue-collared dad from popular American sitcom Frasier is no more. The 77-year-old actor died in Chicago on Sunday after a brief hospitalization although the cause of death is yet to be ascertained. The show aired from 1993 to 2004 and was a spin-off of hit sitcom Cheers. Mahoney played the role of Martin Crane, a disabled former policeman who spends most of the show in a battered old armchair and played counterpoint to pompous sons Frasier and Niles.
Mahoney, a British native who made Chicago his hometown, also worked as a voice actor and performed on Broadway and in the Chicago theatre. In his lifetime he saw two Emmy nominations for Frasier, won a 1986 Tony Award for ‘The House of Blue Leaves,’ and regularly worked in movies. Mahoney’s recent TV credits included ‘Hot in Cleveland’ and a guest appearance on ‘Foyle’s War.’ On the big screen, he was in ‘The American President,’ ‘Eight Men Out’, ‘Tin Men,’ and the 2007’s ‘Dan in Real Life’ starring Steve Carell. John Cusack, who has the opportunity of acting alongside Mahoney in the 1989 film ‘Say Anything,’ took to Twitter to express his feelings about the “lovely kind human.”
The English-American stage and screen actor was born in 1940 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England during World War II. His pregnant mother was evacuated to safety from Nazi attacks, but the family soon returned to its home in Manchester. He started his career on the stage in 1977 and moved into film in 1980. In an interview with The Associated Press in 2015, Mahoney told stories of huddling in an air raid shelter and playing among bombed-out houses.
One of Mahoney’s sisters, who moved to the Midwest after marrying a US sailor, was responsible for Mahoney’s decision to make his life in America. He visited Chicago as a college student and fell in love with it. “The lake, the skyline, the museums, the symphony, the lyric opera and it’s my favorite place in the world. I give up nothing professionally by being in Chicago,” said Mahoney in 2015 when he was preparing to begin rehearsal on a Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of The Herd.The theater canceled Monday’s scheduled performance in honor of Mahoney. “John’s impact on this institution, on Chicago Theater and the world of arts and entertainment are great and will endure,” the theater said.