On Screen, On Stage | 5 Notes on The Passing of John Mahoney

Actor John Mahoney has died at age 77. The award-winning actor passed away on Sunday after a brief hospitalisation, though exact details and cause of death are currently unknown. It’s likely that his passing was not a surprise for his loved one, as the actor died in hospice care in Chicago, Illinois.

The British born actor left behind quite the legacy, with a ranged filmography to showcase his acting abilities. Mahoney was a talented man, both dramatically and comedically, entertaining the masses on screen and stage into his elder years. To honour him it’s fitting to celebrate the career he built and enjoyed over his years in the industry. To do this, we’ll take a look at five of his best moments he presented to us throughout his time with us.

Mahoney was best known for his role as Martin Crane in the hit TV sitcom, Frasier. Being a main character on the show for 11 years, he has undoubtedly given his fair share of memorable scenes and moments. The likes of the clown scare and his speech to Frasier about happiness and living in the moment are often mentioned standouts. However, the scene below showcases his reactionary comedic timing flawlessly. Frasier was a comedy, and Mahoney did comedy very well. Here he reacts to having high blood pressure with an over-the-top fearful tone mixed with frustration to deliver a home run of a scene.

Before his breakout role in Frasier, he appeared in its predecessor Cheers as Sy Flembeck, a jingle writer hired for the bar’s advertising in the 11th season. Here he gives a very fast-paced and trademark energetic performance. Breathing life into his performance, he gives the character a sort of slimy yet charming hybrid feel, one you wouldn’t want to meet but certainly enjoy watching. Seeming like a conman type with a used car salesman vibe, he proves to be the real deal. His one-off guest appearance was done so well he would be cast in the Cheers spin-off, Frasier.


Along with his TV career, Mahoney was also a serious stage actor, appearing in many plays throughout his career, a number of which were Irish or by Irish playwrights. Similar to his successful TV career, his work on stage was just as, if not more, lauded. In 1986 he won a Tony award for ‘Best Featured Actor in a Play’ for his performance in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves.  In Hugh Leonard’s A Life, Mahoney plays a very stern character and displays the more serious side of his acting range, despite the elements of comedy mixed in with the play. He gives a presence to his character to show he can do more than the iconic Frasier asked of him.

Mahoney had an immense love of Ireland, and Galway in particular. Stating that “it’s inconceivable for me to come to Ireland, without coming to Galway”. For either theatre work or holiday, it was one of his favourite places. He expresses his adoration for the county and its culture, loving the atmosphere and the way the Irish present their culture, which he in turn gives back and adds to with his theatre performances. “Anything that feeds the soul, is culture as far as I’m concerned” an example of which would be the plays he performs in. The genuine admiration for Galway is ever present and touching and his love of the culture matches his love of acting and entertaining.

Just as Mahoney loved the Galway stage, it loved him back. The Galway International Arts Festival tweeted the following after his death;

“We are so sad to hear of the death of our dear friend John Mahoney. He performed so many memorable roles at the Festival and often holidayed in Galway. A truly brilliant actor. What a wonderful, sweet and gentle man he was. We loved him dearly.”

in 2014, the play Chapatti premiered in Galway to a positive release. Here is where Mahoney gives one of the most genuine performances of his career, with a light-hearted feel and pleasant aura. Looking at the previous video on his love of Galway, you can see a lot of his real self on stage for Chapatti.

John Mahoney 1940 – 2018

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