John Mahoney of Frasier fame dies age 77
John Mahoney, who played Kelsey Grammer’s father on Frasier, has died at the age of 77.
The British-born actor died after a brief spell in hospital, according to his longtime manager, Paul Martino.
Mahoney earned two Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a place in his audience’s hearts while playing Martin Crane during Frasier’s 11 years on TV.
In 1986, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in The House of Blue Leaves.
The actor, who was unmarried, also starred in The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, a 2002 film about gay friends and Mahoney’s character Jack, a restaurant owner who dresses up in drag.
Mahoney moved to the US from Blackpool when he was young and served in the US Army for three years. He said it was this spell in the military which erased his British accent.
He only began acting in his 30s, joining Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre on the suggestion of actor John Malkovich.
He was a member of Steppenwolf for 39 years, and a fixture of the Chicago theatre scene.
The company said that Mahoney had died “due to complications from cancer”.
In a statement, it added: “John was a beloved member of our Steppenwolf family who was known for his extraordinary kindness, generosity of spirit and quick smile.”
Among a long list of credits, Mahoney featured in two Coen brothers films – Barton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy.
He also voiced characters in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Iron Giant and Antz.
And on a 2007 episode of The Simpsons, he reprised his role as Kelsey Grammer’s father by playing Sideshow Bob’s dad, Dr Robert Terwilliger.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2002, he spoke humbly about how lucky he felt to be in his position.
“Believe me, I’m an aberration,” he said. “With me, it was all the stars aligning at exactly the right time. There was so much luck involved”.
“So much luck! I’m not putting myself down, I’m not saying I don’t have talent – I must have, to have got this far – but I honestly believe that some of the greatest actors in America are tending bar and waiting tables and driving taxis, and it will never happen for them.”
The tributes have poured in for the late, great actor.
Gary Sinise, an Emmy and Golden Globe award winner and Steppenwolf co-founder, remembered “so many wonderful plays together over the years.
“A wonderful actor I’ll never forget his 1985 performance in Orphans (Chicago and New York).
“It was a great pleasure to know him and work with him. From Moira and I, Rest In Peace old friend,” he added.
Jeff Greenberg, the casting director for Frasier, said: “I’ve not known a kinder man nor more brilliant actor.
“We were all blessed to have spent 11 glorious years together,” added Greenberg, who is now the casting director for Modern Family.
Director and producer Greg Berlanti said he was “devastated by the loss of John Mahoney who was so kind and supportive of me early in my career when we made The Broken Hearts Club”.
Berlanti, who now works on TV’s Arrow, Riverdale and Black Lightning, continued: John helped get it greenlit.
“He never wavered in his belief in me – a first time director. And he was even more kind than he was brilliant.
“I’ve been blessed in my life but can’t imagine a greater blessing than to work with someone as wonderful as John at the start of my career”.
“He set a standard and an example of how talent and warmth and generosity of spirit can all exist in one person.”
Ryan Williams, director of multicultural initiatives at NBC News, paid tribute on Twitter.
“John Mahoney’s portrayal of Jack in “The Broken Hearts Club” taught me in my coming out years how to lean on, learn from, and love my gay elders. RIP John Mahoney,” he wrote.
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— Ryan Williams (@RyanWmsNBC) February 6, 2018
Peri Gilpin, who played Roz on Frasier, posted a picture of Mahoney singing at her wedding.
She told her followers: “Watch Moonstruck, Say Anything and/or Frasier or anything you can with him in it and raise a glass to John. Remember him well.”