The British-born actor John Mahoney, who played Martin Crane in the US sitcom Frasier, has died aged 77.

He died on Sunday while in hospice care in Chicago.

Mahoney enjoyed a distinguished career in theatre, winning a Tony award, and had a long list of film and TV credits.

But he will be best remembered for playing the unpretentious, blunt father of Frasier and Niles Crane in the hit comedy, which ran for 11 seasons from 1993-2004.

Mahoney won a SAG award in 2000 for the role, and was also nominated for two Emmys and two Golden Globes.

Much of the comic spark in Frasier came from the relationship between the down-to-earth retired police officer Martin Crane and his pompous sons Frasier and Niles, played by Kelsey Grammer and David Pierce.

Mahoney was born in Blackpool, where his pregnant mother had been evacuated to escape Nazi bombing raids.

He moved to the US as a young man, serving in the US army for three years, which he credits with eradicating his native British accent.

It was only in 40s that he became a professional actor, after actors John Malkovich and Gary Sinise invited him to join the new Steppenwolf Theatre Company.