This popped up on Facebook tonight, courtesy writer Cathleen Falsani Possley. (Huge h/t to Frank Weathers for sending it my way!) She posted a long piece on the late, great John Mahoney, best known as Martin Crane, the plaid-shirt-wearing dad on “Frasier.” Mahoney died today at the age of 77. And he was, it turns out, a profoundly spiritual, even religious man.
This comes from her book “The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006).
John’s focus on kind living evolved over time. “I was very, very self-centered when I was young,” he says. “I thought the world revolved around me. It even affected my work when I became an actor. I used to think about how great I had to be and how wonderful I had to be on that stage instead of honoring the playwright or honoring the screenwriter and becoming a part of something that was wonderful.”
While he can’t put an exact date on it, John believes his mind began to change when his heart did, around the time he had what he describes as an “epiphany” in a Roman Catholic church in downtown Chicago around 1975. “I was in the Loop, and I went into St. Peter’s and went to Mass, and it was just about the most emotional thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know where it came from, I just had a little breakdown of some sort, and after that, made a conscious effort to be a better person, to be a part of the world, and to try to revolve around everyone else in the world instead of expecting them to revolve around me.
“I think maybe it was the intercession of the Holy Ghost,” he continues. “I’ve always prayed to the Holy Ghost for wisdom and for understanding and knowledge. I think he answered my prayers when I stopped in the church that day. My life was totally different from that day on. I saw myself as I was, and I saw into the future and saw what I wanted to be. And I sort of rededicated myself to God and begged him to make me a better person. It wasn’t fear of hell or anything like that. I just somehow knew that to be like this, like what I was, wasn’t the reason I was created. I had to be better. I had to be a better person. And I think I am now. I like myself,” he says, breaking into one of his patented head-back-eyes-closed-mouth-open laughs.
“I’m pretty much in a spiritual state most of the time. Even when I’m out drinking with my friends, and even when I drink too much, God’s never far from my thoughts. I’m not a freak, asking ‘What would Jesus do?’ and stuff like that. I don’t think things like that. I don’t pride myself on being able to do what he did anyway. We don’t really know. I just try to live a good life.”
God love you, John Mahoney. Thank you for your gift.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…
Check out a classic “Frasier” moment below…and a wonderful interview with him above.