Yes, he said that: John Mahon unplugged

By Sandra Snyder / For The Scranton Journal

You might know his face if not necessarily his name. After all, University of Scranton graduate John Mahon’s film credits include “Zodiac,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Armageddon,” “L.A. Confidential,” “The American President,” “The People Under The Stairs,” “Bad Influence,” “The Couch Trip” and “The Exorcist.” His television credits include “Just Ask My Children,” “That’s Life,” “JAG,” “Touched By An Angel,” “Martial Law,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Pretender,” “Brooklyn South,” “Police Story,” “Profiler,” “Roswell,” “Cold Case,” “Just Shoot Me,” “The X-Files” and “Frasier.”

Those all pile on top of some notable theater credits as well, such as “Subject To Fits,” an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot;” “Camelot,” in which he played Arthur; and fellow Scranton alumnus Jason Miller’s “Nobody Hears a Broken Drum,” in which he played a priest and scored a nomination for an Obie, or Off-Broadway Theater Award. He also directed a touring production of “That Championship Season,” for which he hired Danny Aiello, and shared the stage with Al Pacino in “Richard III” on Broadway.

Suffice to say John Mahon, wracked by polio as a child, lived to tell an incredible “checkerboard” story and found a distinctive voice, which pulls no punches. Here are some of his off-the-cuff thoughts on life:

On acting: “I didn’t want to be an actor. I had to be an actor. I didn’t want to BE anything. I gave corporate life a shot, and I loathed, abominated and abhorred it.”

On his best experience: “My favorite thing I ever did was Arthur in ‘Camelot.’ And the role I’m most proud of is chief of the Los Angeles Police in ‘L.A. Confidential.’ ”

On his worst theater experience: “It was Richard III, or Richard the Turd. I did it with Al Pacino. We got murdered.”

On polio: “Well, that knocked me out of sports. And I had made all these plans. You know what they say, you want to make God smile, make plans.”

On polio and Hollywood: “I was advised during auditions to say there was something wrong with my arm, but not polio. So I told them the arm was screwed on. It was a war story.”

On California, his home of more than 40 years: “Back East you see books in people’s home and apartments. Out here you see mirrors. This place floats on Botox. I don’t like it, but I found the teaching thing out here.”

On children, which he had late in life: “They’re really great. But sending a kid to college is like buying a house and not living in it.”

On belief and higher power: “I was really into my faith. I wanted to be a priest. I went to (Scranton) Prep for a while, but I had to get out of there. I had to go to a school where girls were.”

On his University of Scranton days: “Basketball was the best thing at the U back then (in the late 1950s through 1960, his graduation year). We beat the living daylights out of all the big universities.”

On his memoir, “A Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood:” “It’s like an acid trip. It’s one long confession. I just hope people buy it. It’s been reduced to about 12 bucks.”