John Mahoney, who starred as Martin Crane in US sitcom Frasier, has died aged 77.

Mahoney become one of the show’s most loved characters, playing Frasier and Niles Crane’s cranky father.

His longtime manager, Paul Martino, said he died on Sunday in Chicago after a brief stint in hospital.

The actor’s cause of death has not been publicly announced.

Born in Blackpool, Mahoney moved to the US as a young man after his older sister, Vera, who was married to an American, agreed to sponsor him.

After university in Illinois he joined the US army to speed up his citizenship process before teaching English at Western Illinois University in the early 1970s and serving as the editor of a medical journal.

Unhappy with his career, he took acting classes and in 1977 joined the Steppenwolf Theatre where a performance in the play Orphans propelled him into the world of film.

After roles in a few films he appeared in Frasier’s first episode in 1993 and starred in the Cheers spin-off until its final episode in 2003.

He received two Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations for his role as Martin Crane.

After Frasier he worked on Broadway and appeared as an elderly drag queen in an ER episode.

His last foray as an actor was in 2015 in an episode of Foyle’s War.

A private man, Mahoney only once revealed he had been in several relationships but had never married.

(c) Sky News 2018: Frasier star John Mahoney dies aged 77