Joseph Maher

Joseph Sylvester Maher (pronounced Ma-her or Ma-HARR,[1][2] December 29, 1933 – July 17, 1998) was an Irish-born naturalized American character actor, playwright and director, best known for his roles in motion pictures, television and the theater. He was nominated for three Tony Awards, won a Drama Desk Award and Obie Award, and was a nominee of the Olivier Award for his supporting roles on the stage. He was also known for appearing in plays by Joe Orton.

Joseph Maher
Born(1933-12-29)December 29, 1933
DiedJuly 17, 1998(1998-07-17) (aged 64)
  • Character actor (stage, film and television)
  • playwright
  • director (theatre)
Years active1958−1998

Early life

Maher was one of ten children born to Delia A. (née O'Malley) and Joseph Maher, a schoolteacher, in Westport, County Mayo, Irish Free State. He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers and emigrated to Canada in 1956 where he worked for an oil company before becoming interested in theater. He worked for three years with the Canadian Players before making his New York stage debut in Brendan Behan's The Hostage.[3]


Maher's Broadway theatre credits include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, King Henry V, The Royal Family, Night and Day, and Loot.


Maher's film credits include For Pete's Sake, Heaven Can Wait, Time After Time, Just Tell Me What You Want, I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, The Evil That Men Do, Frankenweenie, My Stepmother is an Alien, Sister Act, Funny Farm, I.Q., In & Out, The Shadow, Mars Attacks! and The Out-of-Towners.


Maher's appearances on television included roles in the soap operas Guiding Light and Another World. He also guest-starred in several other TV series including M*A*S*H, Wonder Woman, When Things Were Rotten, Ellery Queen, St. Elsewhere, ALF, Gimme a Break!, Moonlighting, Thirtysomething, Murder, She Wrote, Seinfeld, Tales from the Crypt and Chicago Hope.


Maher died of a brain tumor at his home in Los Angeles, California, on July 17, 1998. Maher's interment was in his hometown of Westport, County Mayo, Ireland.


Year Title Role Notes
1966Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans WakeCelebrant
1972It Ain't EasyCharlie
1974For Pete's SakeMr. Coates
1976Diary of the DeadWalter Johnson
1978Heaven Can WaitSisk
1979Time After TimeAdams
1980Just Tell Me What You WantDr. Coleson
1980Those Lips, Those EyesFibby Geyer
1981Going Ape!Gridley
1981Under the RainbowThe Duke
1982I'm Dancing as Fast as I CanDoctor Kalman
1984The Evil That Men DoMolloch
1984FrankenweenieMr. ChambersShort
1988Funny FarmMichael Sinclair
1988My Stepmother is an AlienLucas Budlong
1990The Local StigmaticDavid
1992Sister ActBishop O'Hara
1994KillerDr. Alstricht
1994The ShadowIsaac Newboldt
1994I.Q.Nathan Liebknecht
1996Surviving PicassoKahnweiler
1996Mars Attacks!White House Decorator
1997In & OutFather Tim
1998O.K. GarageLilly
1998HoodsDr. Alstrich
1999The Out-of-TownersMr. Wellstone(final film role)


  1. "Joseph Maher Biography (1933-)". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  2. "Joseph Maher, Versatile Character Actor, Is Dead at 64 - The New York Times". July 21, 1998. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  3. Joseph Maher profile,; accessed June 11, 2017.
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