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Actor John Mahoney, Dad On 'Frasier,' Dies At 77

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The actor John Mahoney has died. He was best known as the gruff but lovable patriarch on the TV show "Frasier." He was 77 and had been suffering from throat cancer. Jeff Lunden has this remembrance.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: The gravel-voiced, genial actor became famous as retired cop Martin Crane in "Frasier." He played the blue-collar, beer-drinking foil to his effete sons played by Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FRASIER")

JOHN MAHONEY: (As Martin Crane) Hey, guys, are you sure you don't want to stick around? I was just going to open a can of spaghetti.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID HYDE PIERCE: (As Niles Crane) But you have sea bass in the fridge.

MAHONEY: (As Martin Crane) Oh, it'll probably last another day.

PIERCE: (As Niles Crane) Oh, I think you should cook it tonight.

MAHONEY: (As Martin Crane) Fine. I'll nuke it with some ketchup.

(LAUGHTER)

LUNDEN: Mahoney came to acting relatively late in life. Born in Blackpool, England, he moved to America at the age of 19 and settled in Chicago. In his late 30s, he quit a job editing a medical magazine and started taking acting classes. John Malkovich and Gary Sinise asked him to join the Steppenwolf Theatre. He appeared in over 30 roles with the company. In New York, he won a Tony Award for his role as an aspiring songwriter in "The House Of Blue Leaves."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK TOGETHER AGAIN")

MAHONEY: (As Artie Shaughnessy, singing) Back together again, back together again. Thank you.

LUNDEN: Mahoney was cast in many films, among them, "Eight Men Out," "Moonstruck" and "Say Anything," where he played a father protecting his daughter from slacker John Cusack.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SAY ANYTHING")

MAHONEY: (As Jim Court) Yeah, Lloyd, what are your plans for the future?

JOHN CUSACK: (As Lloyd Dobler) Spend as much time as possible with Diane before she leaves.

MAHONEY: (As Jim Court) Seriously, Lloyd.

LUNDEN: Mahoney left LA in 2004 and moved back to Chicago. He appeared in his final role at the Steppenwolf last fall, playing a dying poet in a play called "The Rembrandt." For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden.

(SOUNDBITE OF KELSEY GRAMMER SONG, "TOSSED SALADS AND SCRAMBLED EGGS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.