English-American stage, film, voice and television actor John Mahoney – best known for playing the blue collar patriarch Martin Crane on Frasier – passed away on February 4, 2018. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company confirmed his death, saying in a statement, “John Mahoney passed away due to complications from cancer while in hospice care on Sunday.” He was 77.
Born in Blackpool, England on June 20, 1940, Mahoney was the seventh of eight children in the family. He discovered his love for acting as a child at the Stretford Children’s Theatre, but would not pursue the career until somewhat late in life. When he was 19, Mahoney moved to the United States and eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois. He taught English at Western Illinois University for some time before working as an editor for a medical magazine. In his late 30s, he quit his job and started taking acting classes at St. Nicholas Theatre.
Mahoney made his professional stage debut in The Water Engine in 1977, after which he was invited to join Steppenwolf Theatre by founding members John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. He went on to serve as an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre for the next 39 years. Mahoney’s role in Lyle Kessler’s play Orphans won him the Clarence Derwent Award as Most Promising Male Newcomer as well as the Theatre World Award. He went on to win a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves. Outside of the stage, Mahoney starred in such films as Tin Men, Moonstruck, Eight Men Out, Say Anything, In the Line of Fire, Reality Bites, The American President, Barton Fink, and The Hudsucker Proxy.
Between 1993 to 2004, Mahoney played the grouchy and sharp-witted father of Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce on the NBC hit show Frasier. Over his 11-year career as Martin Crane, Mahoney earned two supporting actor Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe Award nominations. Following the conclusion of Frasier, Mahoney provided voice work for films including Antz, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Atlantis: Milo’s Return, The Iron Giant, and Kronk’s New Groove. More recent roles for Mahoney included guest appearances on the television shows ER, Burn Notice, In Treatment, $#@! My Dad Says, and Hot in Cleveland. Mahoney also starred in the Broadway revival of Prelude to a Kiss, Bruce Graham’s play The Outgoing Tide, and the Steppenwolf Theatre play The Birthday Party. Mahoney portrayed his last role in the play The Rembrandt.
Countless celebrity friends and fans took to social media to pay tribute to the actor. John Cusack, who starred alongside Mahoney in Say Anything, tweeted “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.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also issued a statement saying, “John Mahoney was a fixture on the Chicago stage for over 30 years through 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. Though he will be missed, his work and impact will endure for generations to come.”