John Mahoney, best known for playing Martin Crane on 11 seasons of “Frasier,” died in Chicago on Sunday while in hospice care, his manager, Paul Martino, confirmed. He was 77.
Mahoney played the father of Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce’s characters during the show’s run on NBC from 1993 to 2004. He won a SAG Award and received two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations for his work on “Frasier.” He was also a mainstay of Chicago’s theater community and a Tony winner in 1986 for his work on Broadway in John Guare’s “The House of Blue Leaves.”
From 2011 to 2014, Mahoney had a recurring role on “Hot in Cleveland” as Roy, the love interest of Betty White’s character, Elka. He was much praised for his performance as an anguished CEO in psychological counseling on Season 2 of HBO’s “In Treatment” in 2009.
Producer Greg Berlanti credited Mahoney with allowing him to secure a greenlight for his first feature, the 2000 romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Club.”
“He never wavered in his belief in me — a first time director,” Berlanti said via Twitter. “And he was even more kind than he was brilliant.”
Mahoney worked in film for more than 35 years, appearing in classics like “The American President,” “Moonstruck,” “In the Line of Fire,” and “Say Anything,” along with voicing animated characters in the “Antz” and “Atlantis” films. He also had guest spots in a number of TV shows including “Cheers,” the forerunner of “Frasier” (although he played a different character), and “3rd Rock from the Sun.”
Born in Blackpool, England, the actor started his career in theater and continued to return to the stage, appearing in “Prelude to a Kiss” on Broadway and “The Outgoing Tide” and “The Birthday Party” in Chicago after “Frasier” ended.
He came to the U.S. at age 19 and taught English at Western Illinois University; Mahoney was already in his late thirties when he began working with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble, which needed an actor who could play older roles.
Mahoney never married and had no children.