John Mahoney, the Tony Award-winning Chicago actor and Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member, died Sunday.
Like so many others, I remember Mahoney fondly in the role of Martin Crane on Frasier. He became a welcome family member in my living room, helping me study and laugh through library school. It wasn’t until I came to Chicago and began working with the Chicago Theater Collection, that I learned what a mark he had made locally.
Mahoney was nearly 40 when he began acting professionally. He had been working as an associate editor for the Quality Review Bulletin of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals to pay the bills. On the side, he took acting classes at the St. Nicholas Theatre Company, where he played a part in the 1977 world premiere of The Water Engine by David Mamet.
Mahoney graced many stages throughout his career, playing regularly at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, as well as National Jewish Theatre and Irish Repertory in Chicago. However, he was best known for his stage work at Steppenwolf Theatre, where he joined the ensemble in 1979. Mahoney acted in over three dozen productions at the theater over nearly 40 years. Take a look back at some of his early roles in the photos in this post, as documented by then-Steppenwolf photographer Lisa Howe-Ebright.