John Mahoney, a veteran character actor best known for playing the curmudgeonly dog-loving father of the title character in TV’s “Frasier,” has died, his publicist said Monday.He was 77 years old. Mahoney, who played Martin Crane, father of Frasier Crane and Niles Crane on the long-running sitcom, died Sunday in Chicago after a short illness, Wendy Morris told CNN. Mahoney was an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago for 39 years, the theater said in a tweet.
Mahoney played the father of Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier and David Hyde Pierce’s Niles. The series, a spinoff of Cheers, ran for 13 seasons on NBC from 1993 to 2004. Mahoney’s portrayal of Marty earned him two Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a Screen Actors Guild award. The actor was born in Blackpool, England, but made Chicago his adopted hometown. Beginning his acting career in theatre in the 1970s, he joined Steppenwolf Theatre on the suggestion of actor John Malkovich, eventually winning a Tony Award for his performance in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves in 1986.
Mahoney made his feature film debut in Tin Men in 1987, later appearing in films including In the Line of Fire, Reality Bites, Say Anything, The American President and Primal Fear. He was also a frequent voice actor, including voicing characters in the 1998 animated film Antz, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and an episode of the Simpsons. Mahoney’s recent work included guest appearances on Hot in Cleveland and a 2015 episode of Foyle’s War. Mahoney moved to the United States as a young man when his older sister, Vera, a war bride living in rural Illinois, agreed to sponsor him. He studied at Quincy University, Illinois, before joining the United States Army to speed up the U.S. citizenship process; he received citizenship in 1959.
Along with David Hyde Pierce, Mahoney was godfather to Frasier co-star Jane Leeves’ son Finn. Mahoney rarely spoke publicly about his private life, but in a 2002 article he revealed he had been in several relationships, although he had never married. He suffered from colon cancer in the mid-1980s.