Death of an actor

A beloved actor passed away earlier this week. I didn’t know him, not personally. My only interaction with him was through the magic of TV and the power of a sitcom titled Frasier.

Week after week, I’d wait eagerly for the appearance of the Crane family on the air and laugh right along with the witty comebacks and the heartwarming equation shared by the brothers Crane and their father.

Death itself is no stranger to my world. I’ve had more than my fair share of close encounters with this inevitable merchant of doom. From the loss of a grandmother when I was 13 to the painful demise of aunts, uncles and many other beloved relatives, it’s never been easy, no matter how often I’ve seen it.

News of his passing, which I noticed through a tweet by Kelsey Grammer, left me with a sense of emptiness and I chided myself. Why was I mourning the loss of a person I didn’t even know personally? It wasn’t like he’d been to my graduation or cheered me on while I won accolades at school. Our paths had never crossed.

But, deep down, I knew that this connection was beyond anything that could be explained by logic.

Frasier was a show that I’d watch with my uncle, a kind, wise and witty soul who left us 12 years ago. I had no dearth of loving and kind father figures in my life; in fact, quite the opposite. But the absolute love for wit and the ability to appreciate the nuances of said wit, I learnt from this uncle.

In all the years I knew him, I’ve never heard him raise his voice. If he had a point, he’d get it across with kindness and with a hint of impishness.

Much like Martin Crane.

I’ve heard him counsel the family, especially the kids, when they reached out to him with dilemmas and troubles. And each time the wisdom he’d share would be helpful yet unobtrusive. All he did was point towards the solution. The choice to move forward on that path was totally up to the questioner.

A lot like Martin Crane would do in every episode.

Reports say that Mahoney passed away due to cancer and a combination of other factors; just like my uncle did, in the Spring of 2006.

People may be amused by the fact that I choose to draw parallels between a real human being and a character on a TV show, but isn’t all life that? Drawing connections between the virtual and the real? Finding our way through messages and ideas that float around in the ether and manifest in relationships with people we care?

And that’s when I realised why I truly mourn the passing of the actor, John Mahoney also known as Martin Crane. Through his death, I experienced what it was like to lose my uncle all over again.

Rest in peace, Marty Crane. Thank you for the laughs and thank you for the memories.

9 thoughts on “Death of an actor

  1. May his soaul rest in peace. Its a similar relationship for me too, through the television. Loved watching him on screen and his place can probably never be filled.

  2. Oh! Just a few days ago, husband was watching this series on Netflix.
    We do connect with some characters from books, movies and sitcoms so well. And yes, we do draw parallels between real people and fictional characters, for I believe reel characters are sometimes loosely or wholly based on real people.

  3. Yes, we often do that – draw parallels between the reel life and the real life. But, that is how we relate so many things happening in our world with emotions that we see our favourite characters enacting on the screen!
    True, the memories stay alive, years after our loved ones move to the other side. It’s these memories that keep us afloat.
    Hugs, my dear!

  4. I’ve only watched a few episodes but your parallel with your uncle, made him feel more real than just a character in a TV show.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about John Mahoney’s passing! I guess it was years back when I used to watch Frasier and quite regularly and this definitely feels like a loss to me as well, because he was a familiar figure and any death to me is always always sad. It brings me into a different frame of mind that makes me question my own feelings and emotions and I would react very similar to you, Shailaja. I am glad that your uncle left you with some beautiful memories that you still cherish, something that folks and family who knew Mahoney would say as well.

  6. I’ve just watched a few episodes of Frasier long ago so I don’t much connect with this particular character but I do understand how film or televisions personalities can become a part of our lives. I remember when Robin Williams and Alan Rickman or back home Shammi Kapoor had passed away I felt such a sense of loss.

  7. Despite the number of years that have passed since it was aired and the fact that I got to watch it only as reruns, Fraser has been so relatable and funny in a non preachy kinda way. I have never paid attention the actor but only Crane! RIP his soul.

  8. I think it’s perfectly normal to grieve for celebrities especially if they’ve touched us in some way. We connect with them on-screen for a reason and as you’ve said, Martin Crane was your connection with your uncle.

    Last year, when Chester Bennington from Linkin Park suicided, I was devastated. I cried. I was in a funk. I still occasionally weep when I listen to his songs and know he’ll never sing again. Sure, I won’t miss him like his family does but he gave voice to a lot of my feelings right from my teenage years. He gave me and so many other young people reasons to live. So yes, we can completely grieve the death of someone unknown. Because they speak to us in ways only we know.

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