John Mahoney, who played cranky dad on ‘Frasier,’ dies at 77

In this July 26, 2010 file photo, actor John Mahoney arrives at the premiere of "Flipped" in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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John Mahoney, who played cranky dad on ‘Frasier,’ dies at 77

LOS ANGELES: 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.
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 US 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.


Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

Updated 15 October 2018
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Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

  • Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year before he died
  • “He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said

LONDON: Stephen Hawking’s final work, which tackles issues from the existence of God to the potential for time travel, was launched on Monday by his children, who helped complete the book after the British astrophysics giant’s death.
Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year — but did not finish it before he died in March, aged 76.
It has been completed by the theoretical physicist’s family and academic colleagues, with material drawn from his vast personal archive.
“He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said at the Science Museum in London.
The book was an attempt to “bring together the most definitive, clearest, most authentic answers that he gave.
“We all just wish he has here to see it.”
Hawking, who was wheelchair bound due to motor neurone disease, dedicated his life’s work to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
The cosmologist was propelled to stardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an unlikely worldwide bestseller.
It won over fans from far beyond the rarefied world of astrophysics and prompted people into asking the mastermind his thoughts on broader topics, answered in his final work.

The 10 questions Hawking tackles are:
-- Is there a God?
-- How did it all begin?
-- What is inside a black hole?
-- Can we predict the future?
-- Is time travel possible?
-- Will we survive on Earth?
-- Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
-- Should we colonize space?
-- Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
-- How do we shape the future?


In his book, Hawking says humans have no option but to leave Earth, risking being “annihilated” if they do not.
He says computers will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years, but “we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Hawking says the human race had to improve its mental and physical qualities, but a genetically-modified race of superhumans, say with greater memory and disease resistance, would imperil the others.
He says that by the time people realize what is happening with climate change, it may be too late.
Hawking says the simplest explanation is that God does not exist and there is no reliable evidence for an afterlife, though people could live on through their influence and genes.
He says that in the next 50 years, we will come to understand how life began and possibly discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.
“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said.
“It’s a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.”
In his final academic paper, Hawking shed new light on black holes and the information paradox, with new work calculating the entropy of black holes.
Turned into an animation narrated by Hawking’s artificial voice, it was shown at the book launch.
“It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming,” Lucy Hawking told AFP on hearing her father’s voice again.
“It feels sometimes like he’s still here because we talk about him and hear his voice — and then we have the reminder that he’s left us.”