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Charles John Mahoney (June 20, 1940 – February 4, 2018) was an English-American actor of stage, film, and television.

Born in Blackpool, England, Mahoney emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 and started his acting career on the stage in 1977, moving into film in 1980. He was best known for playing the blue-collar patriarch Martin Crane in the American sitcom Frasier, which aired on NBC from 1993 to 2004. In addition to his film and television work, Mahoney also worked as a voice actor and was particularly passionate about his stage work on Broadway and in Chicago theatre.

Early life

Mahoney was born in the Bispham area of Blackpool, England on June 20, 1940, the seventh of eight children. His paternal grandfather was Irish Catholic.[4][5]

The family had been evacuated to Blackpool from the Mahoneys' home city of Manchester, when it was heavily bombed during the Second World War. He started school at St Joseph's College, Blackpool. After the war, the family moved back to Manchester. Mahoney grew up in the Withington area of the city and discovered acting at the Stretford Children's Theatre. His father Reg was a baker[6] who played classical piano, and his mother Margaret (née Watson) was a housewife who loved reading. His parents' marriage was not happy and they either would not speak to each other or have heated arguments. The family situation, combined with the war, fueled Mahoney's interest in acting and he vowed to leave Manchester.[7][8]

Mahoney moved to the United States aged 18 in March 1959[9] 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. After graduating from Quincy, he lived in Macomb, Illinois, earned his Master's degree in English [10]and taught English at Western Illinois University in the early 1970s,[11] before settling in Forest Park, Illinois, and later in Oak Park, Illinois. He became a US citizen in 1971[12] and served as editor of a medical journal through much of the 1970s.[11]

Career

Early work

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.[13][14] He did so and went on to win the Clarence Derwent Award as Most Promising Male Newcomer. Gary Sinise said in an interview for Bomb Magazine that Lyle Kessler's play Orphans "kicked John Mahoney, Kevin Anderson and Terry Kinney off into the movie business"[15] after their Steppenwolf performance of the play for which he won the Derwent Award and the Theatre World Award.[16] Mahoney won Broadway's Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.[17]

Mahoney's first major film role was in the 1987 Barry Levinson film Tin Men. He went on to have prominent roles in a number of acclaimed films throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, including MoonstruckEight Men OutSay Anything...In the Line of FireReality Bites, and The American President.[17][18][11] He appeared in two Coen brothers films, Barton Fink[19] and The Hudsucker Proxy.[20]

Frasier

Main article: Martin Crane

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.[21] Prior to appearing on the series, Mahoney had appeared in an episode of Cheers – from which Frasier was a spin-off – as 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.

Voice acting

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).

Post-Frasier

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.[22][23] 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 theatre) 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.[24] 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.[25][26]

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. Despite the numerous successes throughout his career, Mahoney has maintained that his early work in Lyle Kessler's 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."[27]

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] Mahoney portrayed his last role in the play The Rembrandt, from September to November 2017.[30]

Personal life

Along with David Hyde Pierce, Mahoney was godfather to Frasier co-star Jane Leeves' son Finn.[31] Mahoney rarely spoke publicly about his private life,[7] but in a 2002 article he revealed he had been in several relationships, although he had never married, citing his parents' unhappy marriage as something he feared he would repeat.[8] He suffered from colon cancer in the mid-1980s and felt unable to have sex following a colostomy.[32] His Catholic faith was at the center of his life and work.[33][34]

Mahoney lived in Oak Park, Illinois.[8]

Death

Mahoney died in a Chicago hospice on February 4, 2018, of complications from throat cancer, originally diagnosed in 2014. He was 77 years old. According to his friend Anna 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 he was clean of cancer... But other health issues came up and he was just too fragile."[35][36][37][38][39]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1982 Mission Hill Michael Doyle
1985 Code of Silence Prowler Representative
1986 The Manhattan Project Lt. Col. Conroy
Streets of Gold Linnehan
1987 Suspect Judge Matthew Bishop Helms
Tin Men[17] Moe Adams
Moonstruck Perry
1988 Frantic Williams, U.S. Embassy Official
Betrayed Shorty
Eight Men Out[17] William "Kid" Gleason
1989 Say Anything...[18] James Court
1990 Love Hurts Boomer
The Russia House Brady
1991 Barton Fink[19] W. P. Mayhew
1992 Article 99 Dr. Henry Dreyfoos
1993 In the Line of Fire[18] Sam Campagna
Striking Distance Capt. Vince Hardy
1994 A Hard Rain Ross Stewart Short film
Reality Bites[18] Grant Gubler
The Hudsucker Proxy[20] Chief
1995 The American President[17] Leo Solomon
1996 Primal Fear[18] Shaughnessy
She's the One Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mariette in Ecstasy Dr. Claude Baptiste
1998 Antz[18] Grebs Voice
1999 The Iron Giant General Kenneth Rogard
2000 The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy Jack
2001 Almost Salinas Max Harris
Atlantis: The Lost Empire[18] Preston B. Whitmore Voice
2003 Atlantis: Milo's Return Preston B. Whitmore
2005 Kronk's New Groove Papi
2007 Dan in Real Life[17] Poppy
2010 Flipped Chet Duncan Final film role

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1982 Chicago Story Lt. Roselli 13 episodes
1985 Lady Blue Capt. Flynn TV movie
1986 Trapped in Silence Doctor Winslow TV movie
1987 Saturday Night Live Fast Eddie Felson / Paul Newman Episode: "Charlton Heston/Wynton Marsalis"
1987 American Playhouse Artie Shaughnessy Episode: "The House of Blue Leaves"
1988 Favorite Son Lou Brenner Episode: "Part One"
1989 Dinner at Eight Oliver Jordan TV movie
1990 The Image Irv Mickelson TV movie
1990 H.E.L.P. Chief Patrick Meacham 6 episodes
1991 The 10 Million Dollar Getaway Jimmy Burke TV movie
1992 The Human Factor Dr. Alec McMurtry 5 episodes
1992 The Water Engine Mason Gross TV movie
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 264 episodes 

Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2000) 
Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film (1994, 2001) 
Nominated–Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1999, 2003) 
Nominated–Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series (1998, 2000) 
Nominated–Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2001) 
Nominated–Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995–1999, 2001–2004) 
Nominated–TV Guide Award for Supporting Actor of the Year in a Comedy Series (2001)

1995 Biography Narrator (voice) Episode: "Al Capone: Scarface"
1996 3rd Rock from the Sun Dr. Leonard Hamlin 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: #1.12
2000 Nature Narrator Episode: "Intimate Enemies: Lions and Buffalo"
2003 Gary the Rat Steele (voice) Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"
2005 Fathers and Sons Gene TV movie
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 7 episodes

Nominated–PRISM Award for Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

2009–10 Burn Notice Management 2 episodes
2010 $#*! My Dad Says Lt. Col. Wally Durham Episode: "The Manly Thing to Do"
2011–14 Hot in Cleveland Roy 6 episodes
2015 Foyle's War Andrew Del Mar Episode: "High Castle"
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