LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Mahoney, who as the cranky, blue-collar dad in "Frasier" played counterpoint to pompous sons Frasier and Niles, has died. Mahoney was 77.
The actor died Sunday in Chicago after a brief hospitalization, Paul Martino, his manager for more than 30 years, said Monday. The cause of death was not immediately provided.
Mahoney has ties to West-Central Illinois. According to the Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau's "Off the Record" guide, Mahoney attended Quincy University, then Quincy College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1966.†
He worked as an English professor at an assortment of colleges, including Western Illinois University in Macomb during the 1970s. While employed as a medical journalist at age 37, he made the decision to transition to acting.†
"We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of John Mahoney," a written statement released by QU said. "John was a devoted and caring alum who had many fond memories of his time at QU. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."
Jerilyn Dufresne of Quincy was a freshman at QU when Mahoney was a senior.
“He was handsome, and he was a bit exotic because he was from England. He was very friendly, and he always spoke,” Dufresne said.
Mahoney was a "faithful supporter" of the university, the statement said. He served as the honorary chairman of the Forever Forward Capital Campaign that launched in 2015.
Mahoney also spoke in campaign ads on behalf of his nephew, John Sullivan, when the Rushville resident ran successfully for the Illinois Senate.
In "Frasier," the hit "Cheers" spinoff that aired from 1993 to 2004, Mahoney played Martin Crane, a disabled ex-policeman who parked himself in a battered old armchair in Frasier's chic Seattle living room.
Kelsey Grammer's Frasier and David Hyde Pierce's Niles, both psychiatrists with lofty views of their own intellect, squabbled constantly with their dad but, when needed, the family closed ranks.
Martin's beloved dog, Eddie, also took up residence to annoy the fussy Frasier.
Mahoney, a British native who made Chicago his home town, was a two-time Emmy nominee for "Frasier," won a 1986 Tony Award for "The House of Blue Leaves," and worked steadily in movies.
John Cusack, who appeared with Mahoney is the 1989 film "Say Anything," tweeted that he was a great actor and a "lovely kind human — any time you saw him you left feeling better."
Mahoney's recent TV credits included a recurring role as Betty White's love interest on "Hot in Cleveland" and a 2015 guest appearance on "Foyle's War." On the big screen, he was in "The American President," ''Eight Men Out" and "Tin Men," with 2007's "Dan in Real Life" starring Steve Carell among his last movie credits.
The actor was born in 1940 in Blackpool, England, during World War II. That's where his pregnant mother had been evacuated for safety from Nazi attacks, but the family soon returned to its home in Manchester.
In a 2015 interview with The Associated Press, Mahoney recounted memories of huddling in an air raid shelter and playing among bombed-out houses. The accounts his four older sisters shared with him, he said, included tucking him into a baby carriage outfitted with a shield against feared gas attacks.
One sister, who moved to the Midwest after marrying a U.S. sailor, was responsible for Mahoney's decision to make his life in America. He visited Chicago as a college student and fell in love with it.
"The lake, the skyline, the museums, the symphony, the lyric opera," he said in extolling the city in 2015. Add in reliably friendly Midwesterners, Mahoney said, and it's "my favorite place in the world."
"I give up nothing (professionally) by being in Chicago," said Mahoney, who at the time was preparing to begin rehearsal on a Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of "The Herd."
The theater canceled Monday’s scheduled performance in honor of Mahoney, according to an outgoing phone message that said he had been an ensemble member since 1979.
“John’s impact on this institution, on Chicago theater and the world of arts and entertainment are great and will endure,” the theater said.