John Mahoney, the Actor Who Played Dad on Frasier, Has Died Aged 77

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John Mahoney has died.

The actor passed away on Sunday in Chicago, Illinois, his manager confirmed to PEOPLE. He was 77.

Born in Blackpool, England, in 1940, Mahoney became best known for his role as Martin Crane in NBC’s Frasier, though he didn’t kick-start his acting career until later on in life. As a child, Mahoney — who was one of eight children from a Irish-Catholic family — witnessed the struggles of war firsthand as it quickly tore apart his parents’ marriage.

The British native attended St. Joseph’s College in Blackpool but was determined to immigrate to the United States. At 19, he moved to the America with the help of his older sister, Vera, a war bride living in Illinois.

 

As Mahoney acclimated himself with life Stateside, he began studying at Quincy University in Illinois. Shortly after, he spent three years in the United States Army and received his citizenship in 1959.

“It was so bleak and dark in England — those gray and foggy postwar years,” he previously told the Chicago Tribune. “[The United States], it was so sunny. The people smiled.”

After graduating from Quincy with a Bachelor’s degree, he began working on his Master’s degree while teaching English at Western Illinois University and working as a hospital orderly. Shortly after, Mahoney made the move to Chicago and began editing a medical journal.

However, according to the Tribune, Mahoney wasn’t completed satisfied with his life. He spent most of his time “at home, smoking and drinking a few beers.”

 

“There was this deep-seated frustration,” he said. “I knew that the only place I had ever been really happy was on stage.”

Ready to take on showbiz, Mahoney quit his job and started taking acting classes and soon got his first role in David Mamet’s Water Engine in 1977. Four years after pursuing acting, John Malkovich encouraged him to join Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theatre.

“The theater is my brothers, my sisters, my father, my mother, my wife,” he explained. “It is everything to me.”

In 1986, 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.

Before finding success in television, Mahoney made his film debut in Tin Men and Moonstruck.

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