Remembering Mahoney, Devi, and More

On Monday, Variety’s Kirsten Chuba reported that John Mahoney, “best known for playing Martin Crane on eleven seasons of Frasier,” had passed away the previous day at the age of seventy-seven. “He won a SAG Award and received two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations for his work on Frasier. He was also a mainstay of Chicago’s theater community and a Tony winner in 1986 for his work on Broadway in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves.

“His theatrical breakthrough came in 1985, as a mobster in Orphans at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, where he remained a longtime ensemble member,” writes Emily Brennan in the New York Times. “In those parts, as well as memorable turns in Moonstruck,Say Anything . . . , and Prelude to a Kiss, Mr. Mahoney colored his performances with an Everyman charm and a touch of melancholy.”

Ted Cox for the Chicago Reader: “Only last fall, he appeared onstage at Steppenwolf Theatre, where he'd been an ensemble member since the late 70s, in the guise of the Greek poet Homer at the end of his days, musing in Jessica Dickey's drama The Rembrandt on mortality in the form of ‘your fragile, freckled hands and your toenails and your puckered rear.’ He seemed as vivid and irrepressible as ever—old, sure, as any actor entering his late seventies is apt to appear (especially clad in a toga), but still in full grasp of his craft.”

“The only curveball of a role that I saw Mahoney play—in fact, it’s such a curveball that you might remember the performance but be surprised to remember that it was his—was in Barton Fink, the Coen brothers movie from 1989, in which he plays W. P. Mayhew, a white-suited Faulkneresque novelist turned Hollywood screenwriter,” writes Sarah Larson for the New Yorker. “When Fink (played by John Turturro) lands in Hollywood and tries to make his way in screenwriting, too, Mayhew dispenses steely wisdom with a Southern drawl and staggers around with a bottle of whiskey. He’s a souse with writer’s block, yelling, ‘Mah honey!,’ and failing to do much but philosophize, sing, and cash checks. The performance was wild, controlled, and tinged with pathos; it might have influenced your impression of Faulkner.”

Over the course of Frazier’s run, “Martin grows out of being a foil and into a fully-formed character—this had as much to do with the terrific writing as with John Mahoney’s memorable, delightful, superb portrayal of the Crane patriarch,” writes Ari Arikan in an appreciation of some of the character’s greatest moments at


Screenwriter David Sherwin, who has passed away at the age of seventy-five, “wrote three acerbic, funny, trailblazing films for the director Lindsay Anderson,” If.... (1968), O Lucky Man! (1973), and Britannia Hospital (1982), “each starring Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis,” writes Ryan Gilbey for the Guardian. While they were working on If…., Anderson remarked, “You know, I’m only making this for a few friends in Cannes,” to which Sherwin replied, “And I’m making it for the world.” Sherwin also rewrote John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). “A film of Sherwin’s 1996 published diaries, Going Mad in Hollywood, was planned by the director Michael Winterbottom, with McDowell cast as Anderson, but never materialized.”

Supriya Devi, “one of Bengal’s most celebrated icons,” as Premankur Biswas writes in the Indian Express, has passed away in Kolkata at the age of eighty-five.

For international audiences, her most famous role is Neeta in Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star (1960). “She played an array of sexually-liberated, assertive characters in the ’50s and ’60s when Bollywood heroines were still playing virginal prototypes. . . . One can’t remember exactly how it happened, but some time in the late ’60s, Devi earned the sobriquet of ‘Sophia Loren of Bengal.’ . . . Devi celebrated that nickname with boat-lined blouses, chokers and the elaborate eye make-up. . . . In 2006, when celebrated filmmaker Mira Nair cast her for a small role in The Namesake, she mentioned how honored she was to have Ghatak’s Neeta in her film.”

“John Morris, a composer who had a long list of movie, theater and television credits but was best known for a long association with Mel Brooks that earned him Academy Award nominations for Blazing Saddles and The Elephant Man,” has died at the age of ninety-one, reports Richard Sandomir for the New York Times.

“Mickey Jones, whose bearded, grizzled face added texture to scores of shows from The Rockford Files to Justified and dozens of films including Sling Blade and National Lampoon’s Vacation and whose drumming still beats away on oldies radio, died today following a lengthy illness,” reports Greg Evans at Deadline.

Actor Wojciech Pokora, who “appeared in Polish cinema classics such as Andrzej Munk’s Bad Luck (Zezowate szczęście, 1960), Andrzej Piwowski’s The Cruise (Rejs, 1970), and Janusz Majewski’s The Deserters (C.K. Dezerterzy, 1986),” has passed away at the age of eighty-three, reports Radio Poland. Via Movie City News.

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