John Mahoney: Kelsey Grammer has paid an emotional tribute to his on-screen father on Frasier
Kelsey Grammer has paid an emotional tribute to John Mahoney, who played his father on Frasier for 11 years.
Mahoney died on Sunday, at the age of 77, of complications from throat cancer.
He earned two Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a place in his audience’s hearts while playing the cantankerous 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.
Born Charles John Mahoney in Blackpool, England, he starred in all 263 episodes of Frasier as the show cemented its place at the forefront of popular culture.
Grammer, who played the title character Frasier, has now joined other stars in remembering Mahoney.
In a short, emotive post, he wrote: “He was my father. I loved him.”
The message, with an accompanying image of the two men embracing, has received more than 210,000 retweets and likes.
John Cusack, who starred alongside Mahoney in Say Anything and Eight Men Out, joined Grammer in paying tribute.
He wrote: “Terrible news. A wonderful artist & man, so kind & generous. RIP”.
“Such a lovely human – lucky enough to work with him twice”.
“He always said it took him a long time to find out what he loved and he loved performing, he was so happy to be there.
“He made everyone around him better and happier each day – blessed to know him,” added Cusack.
Zach Braff said he was “so honoured to work with the legendary John Mahoney on ‘The Broken Heart’s Club.’
“I was so nervous because ‘Say Anything’ is one of my favourite films ever. He could not have been a kinder man. #RIPJohnMahoney”
Mahoney only began acting in his 30s, joining Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre on the suggestion of actors John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.
He had 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.
The actor was a member of Steppenwolf for 39 years, and a fixture of the Chicago theatre scene.
In a statement, the company said: “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.”
Other 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.”