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John Mahoney

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John Mahoney
Mahoney in 1994
Charles John Mahoney

(1940-06-20)June 20, 1940
DiedFebruary 4, 2018(2018-02-04) (aged 77)
Years active1977–2017

Charles John Mahoney (June 20, 1940 – February 4, 2018) was an English-American actor. He played retired police officer Martin Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier from 1993 to 2004, receiving nominations for two Golden Globe Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards.

After moving from England to the United States, Mahoney began his career in Chicago as a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He earned the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in the 1986 Broadway revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves, and went on to achieve wider recognition for his roles in the films Suspect and Moonstruck (both 1987). Other notable credits included Tin Men (1987), Frantic, Eight Men Out (both 1988), Say Anything... (1989), Barton Fink (1991), Striking Distance, In the Line of Fire (both 1993), Reality Bites (1994), The American President (1995), Primal Fear (1996), and The Broken Hearts Club (2000). He also voiced roles in animated films such as Antz (1998), The Iron Giant (1999), and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001).

Early life and education[edit]

Charles John Mahoney was born in Blackpool, England on June 20, 1940,[1] the seventh of eight children. His father, Reg, was a baker[2] who played classical piano, and his mother, Margaret (née Watson), was a housewife who loved reading. His paternal grandfather was Irish.[3][4][5] The family had been evacuated to Blackpool from their home city of Manchester when it was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Mahoney started school at St Joseph's College. After the war, the family moved back to Manchester, where Mahoney grew up in the suburb of Withington and discovered acting at the Stretford Children's Theatre. His parents' marriage was not happy. They would not speak to each other for long periods of time—and when they did, it often led to heated arguments. The family situation, combined with the war, fueled Mahoney's interest in acting and he vowed to leave Manchester.[6][7]

Mahoney moved to the United States aged 18 in 1959 when his older sister Vera (a war bride living in rural Illinois, where he had visited in 1951) agreed to sponsor him. He studied at Quincy University before joining the United States Army. After graduating from Quincy, he lived in Macomb, Illinois, and earned his Master's degree in English[8] from Western Illinois University, where he went on to teach English in the late 1960s[9] before settling in Forest Park, Illinois, and later in Oak Park, Illinois. He became a U.S. citizen in 1971[10] and served as an associate editor of the Quality Review Bulletin medical journal through much of the late 1970s.[9][11]

Mahoney made a concerted effort to lose his English accent after joining the U.S. Army, later stating that he felt that he did not want to "stand out" in his new adopted country. He spoke with an American accent for the rest of his life.[12][13]


1977–1992: Rise to prominence[edit]

Dissatisfied with his career, Mahoney took acting classes at St. Nicholas Theatre, which inspired him to resign from his day job and pursue acting full-time. After a stage production in Chicago in 1977, John Malkovich encouraged him to join the Steppenwolf Theatre.[14][15] He did so and went on to win the Clarence Derwent Award as Most Promising Male Newcomer in 1986. Steppenwolf founder Gary Sinise said in an interview for Bomb Magazine that Lyle Kessler's play Orphans in 1985 "kicked John Mahoney, Kevin Anderson and Terry Kinney off into the movie business"[16] after their Steppenwolf performance of the play for which he won the Derwent Award and the Theatre World Award.[17] Mahoney won Broadway's Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1986 for his performance in John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.[18]

Mahoney's first major film roles both came in 1987, in Barry Levinson's Tin Men and in Peter Yates' Suspect, a courtroom drama/mystery starring Cher, Dennis Quaid, and Liam Neeson. In the next decade, he had prominent roles in many acclaimed films including the John Patrick Shanley romantic comedy film Moonstruck (1987) starring Nicolas Cage and Cher. In 1988, Mahoney portrayed Kid Gleason in the sports drama Eight Men Out, and the following year portrayed the protective father in the Cameron Crowe teen coming of age film Say Anything... (1989). He portrayed Secret Service Director Sam Campagna in the Wolfgang Petersen directed drama In the Line of Fire (1993), Grant Gubler in Ben Stiller's romance film Reality Bites (1994), environmental lobbyist Leo Solomon in Rob Reiner's political romance film The American President (1995) and John Shaughnessy in the legal mystery thriller Primal Fear (1996).[18][19][9] He also is known for his collaboration with the Coen brothers in films such as the period black comedy Barton Fink[20] and the screwball comedy The Hudsucker Proxy.[21] Mahoney also played a pivotal gay role in Greg Berlanti's 2000 GLAAD Award-winning film The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy.

1993–2004: Breakthrough in Frasier[edit]

Mahoney appeared in Frasier from its debut in 1993 until the final episode in 2004; Mahoney received two Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations for the role of Martin Crane, the father of Frasier Crane and Niles Crane. NBC executives held Mahoney in such high esteem that Warren Littlefield declared he was pre-approved when the Frasier creative team suggested casting him as the father.[22] Before appearing on the series, Mahoney had appeared in the episode "Do Not Forsake Me, O' My Postman" of Cheers – from which Frasier was a spinoff – as Sy Flembeck, an inept jingle writer who has a brief conversation with Frasier. Mahoney also appeared as a priest in Becker, which starred Cheers star Ted Danson.

Mahoney in 2007

Mahoney's first voice job was in W. B. Yeats's "The Words upon the Window-Pane" for the award-winning National Radio Theater of Chicago. He provided the voices for several characters in Antz (1998), Preston Whitmore in Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Atlantis: Milo's Return, General Rogard in The Iron Giant (1999), and Papi in Kronk's New Groove (but was succeeded by Jeff Bennett in The Emperor's New School for an unknown reason). In 2007, Mahoney provided the voice of Dr. Robert Terwilliger, Sr. (Sideshow Bob's father) in The Simpsons episode "Funeral for a Fiend". This reunited him with his Frasier co-stars Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob) and David Hyde Pierce (Cecil, Sideshow Bob's brother).

2005–2018: Post-Frasier[edit]

Mahoney co-starred as the Old Man in the Broadway revival of Prelude to a Kiss at the American Airlines Theater in a limited-run engagement running from previews on February 17, 2007, through to April 29, 2007.[23][24] He appeared as an elderly drag queen in the ER season 13 episode "Somebody to Love," and co-starred with Steve Carell (himself a veteran of Chicago theater) as the father of Carell's character in Dan in Real Life. In March 2008, he opened in the world premiere of Better Late at the Northlight Theatre.[25] He was also the narrator for Midwest Airlines commercials. Mahoney also made two appearances on USA's Burn Notice in the second (2009) and third (2010) season finales. His character, referred to only as "Management," is a senior intelligence agency official who is the apparent main mover of the conspiracy which blacklisted Michael Westen.[26][27]

Mahoney joined the cast of In Treatment for the series' second season (2009) as a frenetic CEO who is overwhelmed by his personal and professional responsibilities and experiences chronic physical anxiety attacks. In 2010, he made a guest appearance on $#*! My Dad Says as homophobic retired naval officer Lt. Commander Wally Durham.

Beginning in April 2011, Mahoney began rehearsing The Outgoing Tide, a new play by Bruce Graham at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Illinois (suburban Chicago). The play also stars fellow Chicago actors Rondi Reed and Thom Cox. In 2011, he had two guest appearances on Hot in Cleveland as Roy, a waiter and a love interest for Betty White's character Elka.[28] This reunited him with his Frasier co-star Jane Leeves, as well as Wendie Malick whose character he eventually married in Frasier and his co-star in the movie The American President. Mahoney was a featured ensemble cast member in The Birthday Party, playing in Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre from January 24 to April 28, 2013.[29] His last role was in the play The Rembrandt, from September to November 2017.[30][31]

Despite the numerous successes throughout his career, Mahoney maintained that his early work in the play Orphans has "affected people more than any other play I've ever done. I still get mail from it, I still get people stopping me on the street, and it's 20 years later."[32]

Personal life[edit]

Mahoney lived in Oak Park, Illinois,[7] and suffered from colon cancer in the mid-1980s.[33] He was successfully treated for cancer again in 2014, and credited his love of acting and desire to continue it for giving him enough determination to survive both bouts, saying in October 2017: "I refused to yield to it because I love what I'm doing so much."[34]

Mahoney rarely spoke publicly about his private life,[6] and he died without marrying or having any children.[35] In 2002, he said, "I was never very mature in my relationships with women. First sign of conflict, I was gone. Wouldn't discuss it, because I was afraid it would lead to an argument." This stemmed from a fear of having an unhappy marriage like the one his parents had, though Mahoney did previously have "several long-term relationships".

He was a Catholic who called Christianity "probably the most important facet of my life": before each of his performances, he would pray "Most glorious blessed spirit, I thank you for all the gifts and talents that you've given me. Please help me to use all these gifts and talents to their fullest. And please accept this performance as a prayer of praise and thanks to you". Mahoney would also say prayers upon waking up and before going to sleep daily, and would repeatedly pray "Dear God, please help me to treat everybody – including myself – with love, respect, and dignity."[36]


Mahoney died in a Chicago hospice on February 4, 2018,[15] due to complications from throat cancer, originally diagnosed in 2014. He was 77 years old. According to his friend Anna D. Shapiro, "He was fragile and he was supposed to be having a routine procedure. But having just beat Stage 3 throat cancer, I think he was just too weak ... by the time he did The Rembrandt [a play at Steppenwolf Theatre] he was clean of cancer ... but other health issues came up and he was just too fragile."[37]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Hudson Taylor Unknown
1982 Mission Hill Michael Doyle
1984 The Killing Floor Factory Representative
1985 Code of Silence Prowler Representative
1986 The Manhattan Project Lieutenant Colonel Conroy
1986 The Christmas Gift Town Mayor
1986 Streets of Gold Linnehan
1987 Tin Men Moe Adams [18]
1987 Suspect Judge Matthew Bishop Helms
1987 Moonstruck Perry
1988 Frantic Williams, U.S. Embassy Official
1988 Betrayed 'Shorty'
1988 Eight Men Out William 'Kid' Gleason [18]
1989 Say Anything... James Court [19]
1990 Love Hurts Boomer
1990 The Russia House Brady
1991 Barton Fink W.P. Mayhew [20]
1992 Article 99 Dr. Henry Dreyfoos
1993 In the Line of Fire Secret Service Director Sam Campagna [19]
1993 Striking Distance Captain Vince Hardy
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy Chief [21]
1994 Reality Bites Grant Gubler [19]
1995 An Affectionate Look at Fatherhood Bob
1995 The American President Leo Solomon [18]
1996 Primal Fear John Shaughnessy [19]
1996 She's the One Mr. Fitzpatrick
1996 Mariette in Ecstasy Dr. Claude Baptiste Unreleased
1998 Antz Grebs, The Drunken Scout Voice[38]
1999 The Iron Giant General Shannon Rogard Voice[38]
2000 The Broken Hearts Club Jack
2001 Almost Salinas Max Harris
2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire Preston B. Whitmore Voice[38]
2003 Atlantis: Milo's Return Preston B. Whitmore Voice[38]
2005 Kronk's New Groove Papi Voice, direct-to-video[38]
2007 Dan in Real Life Poppy [18]
2010 Flipped Chet Duncan


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Chicago Story Lieutenant Roselli Main role
1985 Lady Blue Captain Flynn Television film
1986 Trapped in Silence Dr. Winslow Television film
1987 Saturday Night Live Eddie 'Fast Eddie' Felson / Paul Newman Episode: "Charlton Heston/Wynton Marsalis"
1987 The House of Blue Leaves Artie Shaughnessy Television film
1988 Favorite Son Lou Brenner Episode: "Part One"
1989 Dinner at Eight Oliver Jordan Television film
1990 The Image Irv Mickelson Television film
1990 H.E.L.P. Chief Patrick Meacham Main role
1991 The 10 Million Dollar Getaway Jimmy Burke Television film
1992 The Human Factor Dr. Alec McMurtry Main role
1992 The Water Engine Mason Gross Television film
1992 Screenplay Walter Partin Episode: "Buying a Landslide"
1992 Cheers Sy Flembeck Episode: "Do Not Forsake Me, O' My Postman"
1992 Unnatural Pursuits Paddy Quinn Episode: "I Don't Do Cuddles"
1993–2004 Frasier Martin Crane Main role
1995 Biography Narrator Voice, episode: "Al Capone: Scarface"
1996 3rd Rock from the Sun Dr. Leonard Hanlin Episode: "Body & Soul & Dick"
1997 Tracey Takes On... Jeffrey Ayliss Episode: "Childhood"
1998 Nothing Sacred Vince Reyneaux Episode: "The Coldest Night of the Year"
2000 Becker Father Joe D'Andrea Episode: "Crosstalk"
2000 Teacher's Pet Narrator / Tim Tim Tim Voice, episode: "A Dog for All Seasons"
2000 Nature Narrator Episode: "Intimate Enemies: Lions and Buffalo"
2003 Gary the Rat Steele Voice, episode: "Strange Bedfellows"
2005 Fathers and Sons Gene Television film
2006 ER Bennett Cray Episode: "Somebody to Love"
2007 Mobsters Narrator Episode: "Al Capone"
2007 The Simpsons Dr. Robert Terwilliger Sr. Voice, episode: "Funeral for a Fiend"
2009 In Treatment Walter Barnett Recurring role (season 2), 7 episodes
2009–2010 Burn Notice Management 2 episodes
2010 $#*! My Dad Says Lieutenant Colonel Wally Durham Episode: "The Manly Thing to Do"
2011–2014 Hot in Cleveland Roy Recurring role (seasons 2–3, 5), 6 episodes
2015 Foyle's War Andrew Del Mar Episode: "High Castle"


Year Title Role Playwright Venue
1986 The House of Blue Leaves Artie Shaughnessy John Guare Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
2007 Prelude to a Kiss Old Man Craig Lucas American Airlines Theatre, Broadway


Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1986 Tony Award Featured Actor in a Play The House of Blue Leaves Won [39]
1999 Primetime Emmy Award Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Frasier Nominated [40]
2003 Nominated
1994 Golden Globe Award Supporting Actor – Television Nominated [41]
2001 Nominated
1995 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated [41]
1996 Nominated
1997 Nominated
1998 Nominated
1999 Nominated
2000 Won
2001 Nominated
2002 Nominated
2003 Nominated
2004 Nominated
2007 Prism Award Performance - Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline In Treatment Nominated


  1. ^ Schudel, Matt (February 6, 2018). "John Mahoney, Tony-winning actor who played crotchety blue-collar father on TV's 'Frasier,' dies at 77". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  2. ^ "John Mahoney (Martin Crane)". Personal.umich.edu. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  3. ^ Gates, Anita (February 6, 2018). "John Mahoney, Actor Best Known for 'Frasier,' Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  4. ^ Dobson, Charlotte (February 6, 2018). "Frasier actor John Mahoney's early life in Greater Manchester". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on February 6, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Gorman, Sophie (June 29, 2014). "Sitcom star John Mahoney all set for festival return". The Irish Independent. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Kogan, Rick (May 17, 1996). "The Curse of John Mahoney". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Lane, Harriet (August 4, 2002). "Take a chance on me". The Guardian. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  8. ^ Hayward, Anthony (February 6, 2018). "John Mahoney obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 7, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Matthew Dessem (2018) "Actor John Mahoney Has Died at 77" Archived February 6, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Slate, February 6, 2018; accessed February 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Northern District, Illinois, Naturalization Index, 1926-1979. Name: Charles John Mahoney Age: 31 Birth Year: 1940 Naturalization Year: 1971 Naturalization Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
  11. ^ "Quality Review Bulletin Publication Staff". Quality Review Bulletin. 3 (11): 0. 1977 – via Print.
  12. ^ Rees, Jasper (February 6, 2018). "John Mahoney: 'I wanted to be like everybody else'". theartsdesk.com.
  13. ^ Dobson, Charlotte (February 6, 2018). "Frasier actor John Mahoney's early life in Greater Manchester". Manchester Evening News.
  14. ^ "John Mahoney, Steppenwolf and 'Frasier' actor who walked away from Hollywood, dead at 77". Chicago Tribune. February 5, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "John Mahoney, Beloved Frasier Father, Dies at 77". Vanity Fair. February 5, 2018.
  16. ^ Loud, Lance. "BOMB Magazine: Gary Sinise by Scott Elliott". Bomb. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  17. ^ "In 1986". Steppenwolf.org. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d e f "John Mahoney, Who Played Cranky Dad on 'Frasier,' Dies at 77". The New York Times. February 6, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d e "John Mahoney, who played Frasier's Martin Crane, dies aged 77" Archived February 6, 2018, at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, February 8, 2018. Accessed February 8, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "30 Years of Coens: Barton Fink". The Atlantic. September 11, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "30 Years of Coens: The Hudsucker Proxy". The Atlantic. September 12, 2014.
  22. ^ Levine, Ken (December 15, 2010). "How Frasier Came to Be". Kenlevine.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  23. ^ The Broadway League. "Internet Broadway Database: Prelude to a Kiss". Ibdb.com. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  24. ^ "Mahoney, Parisse, Tudyk to Headline Roundabout's Prelude to a Kiss". Broadway.com. August 1, 2012. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  25. ^ "Northlight Theatre set for The Outgoing Tide". Theatre in Chicago. Associated Press. April 20, 2011. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  26. ^ "Burn Notice". usanetwork.com. October 8, 2012. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  27. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (June 23, 2011). "Review: 'Burn Notice' – 'Company Man': Back in from the cold?". hitfix. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  28. ^ Rousseau, Caryn (March 14, 2014). "After 'Frasier,' John Mahoney happy to be back in roles onstage". The Columbus Dispatch. John F. Wolfe. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  29. ^ "The Birthday Party". Archived from the original on April 24, 2013.
  30. ^ "The Rembrandt". Steppenwolf. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Rembrandt". Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  32. ^ "Associate Artistic Director Curt Columbus Speaks With Kevin Anderson and John Mahoney | Watch & Listen | Steppenwolf Theatre Company". Steppenwolf.org. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  33. ^ Parsi, Novid (April 1, 2008). "John Mahoney - Interview". Time Out. Archived from the original on February 6, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  34. ^ Nolasco, Stephanie (February 6, 2018). "'Frasier's' John Mahoney talks about beating cancer twice in one of his final interviews before his death". Fox News. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  35. ^ Kahana, Yoram (February 12, 2018). "In Memoriam: John Mahoney, Golden Globe Nominee, 1940-2018". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  36. ^ Falsani, Cathleen (March 7, 2006). The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 133–137. ISBN 0374163812.
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b c d e "John Mahoney (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved November 15, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  39. ^ "Remembering John Mahoney, The Tony Award-Winning Actor And 'Frasier' Star". NPR.
  40. ^ "John Mahoney". Television Academy.
  41. ^ a b "John Mahoney". IMDb.

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