The actor who played one of the 1990s most beloved “dad” roles has died.
John Mahoney, 77, died Sunday in hospice care in Chicago, TMZ first reported Monday evening, citing his publicist.
Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company later confirmed the death and canceled Monday night’s opening of “You Got Older” in honor of Mr. Mahoney, who had acted for the famous troupe.
The British-born actor was best known for his 11 years on “Frasier,” playing the father of Kelsey Grammer’s fussy lead character.
He was nominated for two Emmys and two Golden Globes and won a Screen Actors Guild prize for the role of Martin Crane, the more down-to-earth, but sometimes cranky, forebear of Frasier and Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce).
Mr. Mahoney’s work in the 1985 Steppenwolf production of the play “Orphans” gave him his first big theatrical break, relatively late in life at 45, and launched his career as a film and TV actor.
He appeared in about 30 movies, including five as a voice actor in such animated classics as “Antz” and “The Iron Giant.”
His movie work mostly consisted of character and supporting roles for such prestigious 1980s and 1990s directors as John Sayles, the Coen brothers, Roman Polanski and Rob Reiner.
His best-known film role may be as the father in “Say Anything” who objects to dorky John Cusack, in the role that made him a star, courting his valedictorian daughter Ione Skye.
Mr. Mahoney has kept his private life under wraps, never having married and not known to have any children.
Film blogger Jake Bart took to Twitter to say that “John Mahoney was one of my favorite actors, full stop. Exquisite work in films like EIGHT MEN OUT, BARTON FINK, SAY ANYTHING, and of course MOONSTRUCK. A great lion of Chicago theater.”
His post linked to a moment from “Moonstruck” in which Mr. Mahoney’s character, upon seeing a marriage proposal to Cher, rolls his eyes and asks “is that man praying?”