Actor John Mahoney, known as dad on ‘Frasier,’ dies at 77

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INDIANAPOLIS – AUGUST 02: John Mahoney during the Q&A session following the screening of “Flipped” at the Hilbert Circle Theatre on August 2, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)

Actor John Mahoney, known to most television fans for playing Frasier Crane’s father on the long-running series “Frasier,” has died. He was 77.

“I’m very proud to have ‘Frasier’ as my television legacy,” Mahoney told the Associated Press in 2014. “I’ve done a lot of good television myself. But still I think nothing can quite compare to ‘Frasier.'”

Earlier in his career, Mahoney was invited to join Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company, home to actors like John Malkovich and Joan Allen. The theater company confirmed his death. 

The cause of death was not immediately announced.

In 1985 he starred in the Steppenwolf play “Orphans” directed by Gary Sinise. That production went to New York and the exposure “kicked off my career,” Mahoney said. The next year he won the Tony Award for featured actor in a play for “The House of Blue Leaves.”

After that, Mahoney said, he didn’t have to audition for roles anymore.

Mahoney said he was a little leery when he heard about “Frasier” because he had previously done television shows that were canceled after a handful of episodes. But once he read the script, Mahoney said he was in. He calls it the “defining moment” of his career.

His role as Martin Crane, a retired police officer always accompanied by his lovable terrier Eddie, earned Mahoney Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.  

Mahoney, who lived in Oak Park, returned to Chicago during his hiatuses from “Frasier.” He was born in England and came to the U.S. at age 19. He received his undergraduate degree at Quincy University and his master’s degree in English from Western Illinois University.

“Chicago is always home,” he said. “No matter what, I wanted to come back to Chicago during those four months off. What better thing to do than do a play with my friends at Steppenwolf?”

He had done more than 30 productions with Steppenwolf and performed in plays around the world.

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