Joseph Maher
Maher as St. Peter in Second Chance, c. 1987
Joseph Sylvester Maher[a]

(1933-12-29)29 December 1933
Died17 July 1998(1998-07-17) (aged 64)
Resting placeAughaval Cemetery
Years active1959–1998

Joseph Sylvester Maher (29 December 1933 – 17 July 1998) was an Irish actor, playwright, and occasional theatre director. He was best known for his roles in the comedies of Joe Orton.[1] He received three Tony Award nominations for his roles in the plays Spokesong, Night and Day, and Loot, with the last winning him a Drama Desk Award. His other accolades included an Obie Award and a Laurence Olivier Award nomination.

Early life

Maher was born in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, on 29 December 1933. He was one of ten children born to Delia A. (née O'Malley) and Joseph Maher Sr., a schoolteacher.[2]

Maher immigrated to Canada in 1956 and in his youth worked for an oil company. He started acting with the Canadian Players and performed across Canada for three years before moving to New York.[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 17 July 1998, at age 64.[1][3] He was buried at Aughaval Cemetery in his hometown of Westport, County Mayo.[citation needed]

Partial filmography

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (December 2022)
Year Title Role Notes
1966 Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake Celebrant
1972 It Ain't Easy Charlie
1974 For Pete's Sake Mr. Coates
1976 Diary of the Dead Walter Johnson
1978 Heaven Can Wait Sisk
1979 Time After Time Adams
1980 Just Tell Me What You Want Dr. Coleson
1980 Those Lips, Those Eyes Fibby Geyer
1981 Going Ape! Gridley
1981 Under the Rainbow The Duke
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Doctor Kalman
1984 The Evil That Men Do Molloch
1984 Frankenweenie Mr. Chambers Short
1986 Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp Sultan Episode 23, Faerie Tale Theatre
1987 Gimme A Break! Professor Dudley
1988 Funny Farm Michael Sinclair
1988 My Stepmother is an Alien Lucas Budlong

1988 ALF as angel bob on episode "Stairway to Heaven"

1990 The Local Stigmatic David
1992 Sister Act Monsignor O'Hara
1994 Killer Dr. Alstricht
1994 The Shadow Isaac Newboldt
1994 I.Q. Nathan Liebknecht
1996 Surviving Picasso Kahnweiler
1996 Mars Attacks! White House Decorator 1996 - 1997 "Goode Behavior" Chancellor Willoughby
1997 In & Out Father Tim
1998 OK Garage Lilly
1998 Hoods Dr. Alstrich
1999 The Out-of-Towners Mr. Wellstone (final film role)

Awards and nominations

Major associations
Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1977 22nd Village Voice Obie Awards Distinguished Performance by an Actor Savages Won
1979 33rd Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play Spokesong Nominated
1980 34th Tony Awards Night and Day Nominated
1986 40th Tony Awards Loot Nominated
31st Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Won
1991 15th Laurence Olivier Awards Comedy Performance of the Year What the Butler Saw Nominated


  1. ^ Joseph S. (Sylvie) Maher is the inscription on his tombstone.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Applebome, Peter (21 July 1998). "Joseph Maher, Versatile Character Actor, Is Dead at 64". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Joseph Maher Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b Oliver, Myrna (22 July 1998). "Joseph Maher, 64; TV, Screen and Stage Actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 September 2021.