John Mahoney has received an immortality few actors could ever hope to receive. His work on TV’s Fraiser as the lead character’s father, Martin Crane, will be reshown year after year until the end of time. But Mahoney, who died in hospice care on Sunday after a short illness at the age of 77, had a career that deserved recognition for more than just that role.
Mahoney was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England on June 20, 1940, and his early life involved a lot of his family relocating to avoid German attacks during World War II. While the war was responsible for a quasi-transient childhood, it also gave him something else–and American brother-in-law and a pathway to becoming an American citizen.
After falling in love with the United States during a visit, Mahoney emigrated to our country and was sponsored by his sister, who married a G.I. and relocated to the States. After a stint in the U.S. Military, he became a U.S. Citizen in 1959.
Mahoney didn’t enter the acting profession until his late 30s, after leaving his job as an associate editor of a medical journal in Chicago. He trained at Chicago’s St. Nicholas Theater, the organization founded by playwright David Mamet, Patricia Cox, William H. Macy and Steven Schacter. In 1979, at the urging of his friend John Malkovich, he joined the ensemble of the prestigious Steppenwolf Theater Company.
It is with our deepest sorrow that we share the news that ensemble member of 39 years John Mahoney passed away. Tonight’s opening night performance of You Got Older has been cancelled. We are instead inviting all to gather in Front Bar this evening. All are welcome to join us. pic.twitter.com/k8yrrR7ICA
— Steppenwolf Theatre (@SteppenwolfThtr) February 6, 2018
He would perform in plays for the company, including such as Waiting for Lefty, Balm in Gilead, And a Nightingale Sang. In 1986, he appeared in Broadway in The House of Blue Leaves, a role which would win him a Tony and a Drama Desk Award.
It was then that his film career picked up. In 1987, he appeared as a judge in the Cher/Dennis Quaid thriller Suspect, as Moe Adams in Tin Men, and as reunited with Cher as Olympia Dukakis’ potential suitor in Moonstruck. He played Chicago White Sox manager Kid Gleason in 1988’s Eight Men Out and Ione Skye’s father in 1989’s Say Anything.
In 1991, Mahoney appeared as a William Faulkner-esque author in the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink. He would reunite with the brothers for 1994’s The Hudsucker Proxy.
Even after being cast in Frasier, Mahoney appeared in supporting roles in films such as Striking Distance, In The Line of Fire, Reality Bites, The American President and Primal Fear and voice work in animated films such as Antz and The Iron Giant.
Mahoney’s last film role was 2010’s Flipped. His last television role was in an episode of the British TV show, Foyle’s War, in 2015.