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|Also Known As:||Allen Kelsey Grammer||Died:|
|Born:||February 21, 1955||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Profession:||actor, producer, singer, author, director, painter, waiter|
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Although a classically trained actor with a number of impressive stage performances on his résumé, Kelsey Grammer was best known for playing the pompous, but ultimately likable psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on two classic and award-winning sitcoms, "Cheers" (NBC, 1984-1993) and "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). Prior to him landing the role that defined his career, Grammer was struggling on stage and in small roles to make a name for himself, while behind the scenes, suffering from numerous personal tragedies that befell both himself and his family. Perhaps as a means of coping with the seemingly unending string of deaths of loved ones, Grammer fell into a dependency on cocaine and alcohol, which he later attributed to his inability to cope after the rape and murder of his sister by a man released on the grounds of insanity. For years, Grammer struggled to cope with his addictions, while audiences saw little to nothing of his problems in their enjoyment of Frasier Crane. Entering rehab for the first time in 1990, Grammer eventually attained sobriety in 1996, well into his Emmy Award-winning run on "Frasier," largely considered to be one of the most successful television spin-offs of all time. After...
Although a classically trained actor with a number of impressive stage performances on his résumé, Kelsey Grammer was best known for playing the pompous, but ultimately likable psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on two classic and award-winning sitcoms, "Cheers" (NBC, 1984-1993) and "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). Prior to him landing the role that defined his career, Grammer was struggling on stage and in small roles to make a name for himself, while behind the scenes, suffering from numerous personal tragedies that befell both himself and his family. Perhaps as a means of coping with the seemingly unending string of deaths of loved ones, Grammer fell into a dependency on cocaine and alcohol, which he later attributed to his inability to cope after the rape and murder of his sister by a man released on the grounds of insanity. For years, Grammer struggled to cope with his addictions, while audiences saw little to nothing of his problems in their enjoyment of Frasier Crane. Entering rehab for the first time in 1990, Grammer eventually attained sobriety in 1996, well into his Emmy Award-winning run on "Frasier," largely considered to be one of the most successful television spin-offs of all time. After "Frasier" finally left the airwaves in 2004, Grammer was finally able to concentrate on other projects. Despite memorable performances in other sitcoms and in features, Grammer was indelibly linked to the beloved character he had played so convincingly for years.
Born on Feb. 21, 1955 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Grammer was raised in New Jersey and Florida after his parents divorced when he was two. Grammer lived with his mother and maternal grandparents, but suffered tragedy when his beloved grandfather died when he was 11. Adding to further heartbreak, the young Kelsey saw his father, Allen, only twice before he was murdered on his front lawn when Grammer was just 13. His father's killer was acquitted on the grounds he was insane at the time of the crime. His life was plagued by more personal tragedy when his younger sister, Karen, was raped and murdered outside a Red Lobster in Colorado Springs, CO. But through it all, Grammer tried to have some semblance of a normal life. After discovering acting while performing in plays at Pine Crest Preparatory High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Grammer attended The Juilliard School alongside Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams and Mandy Patinkin. But his sister's murder proved to be too much to bear, causing him to miss classes and eventually get expelled.
In an attempt to exercise his personal demons, Grammer flung himself into work, performing with the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, CA for three years in the late 1970s. After a short stint at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, he made his Broadway debut as Lennox in a 1981 production of "Macbeth," eventually taking over the lead role. Then tragedy struck yet again the year before when his two twin half-brothers, Billy and Stephen, were killed by a shark while SCUBA diving. Meanwhile, Grammer had his first onscreen break playing shipping magnate and Kennedy insider Stephen Smith in the three-part miniseries, "Kennedy" (NBC, 1983). After playing Lieutenant Stewart in the sweeping eight-hour miniseries "George Washington" (CBS, 1984), Grammer landed the role that defined the rest of his career, playing psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, fiancé of bar waitress Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), on the hit sitcom "Cheers." Originally, the show's creators wanted John Lithgow for a brief recurring role, but the actor was unavailable. Grammer's former Juilliard classmate Mandy Patinkin suggested him to the New York casting director and he got the job, parlaying a six-episode arc into a career that would span two decades.
Because of his erudite ramblings, haughty air and natty style of dress, Dr. Frasier Crane was an immediate outsider in an establishment populated by blue collar barflies (George Wendt and John Ratzenberger), a wisecracking waitress (Rhea Pearlman) and a former Red Sox pitcher-turned-bar owner (Ted Danson). From the start, Frasier was a source of derision and ridicule, thanks to his overbearing, snobbish behavior. But eventually, he managed to fit in with the rest of the gang, even after Diane - whom Frasier planned to marry, only to be left at the altar, a jilted groom - had long left the scene. For nine seasons, Grammer essayed Dr. Crane, who, after being left by Diane, married fellow uptight psychiatrist, Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth), only to be jilted anew when she had an affair with another colleague. When the show wound down in 1993 after having been atop of the ratings heap for numerous seasons, Frasier Crane was as much a fixture at the bar as Norm, Cliff and the drunk old man in the corner. Meanwhile, Grammer was twice nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1988 and 1990). As "Cheers" wound down, however, Grammer was the subject of salacious rumors when his half-brother John sold a story to the media that the actor had underage sex with a 15-year-old girl. A grand jury later heard the case, but refused to file charges against Grammer. Nonetheless, the damage to his reputation had been done.
Right on the heels of "Cheers" leaving the airwaves after 11 seasons, Grammer portrayed the good doctor in his own series, "Frasier," one of the most successful television spin-offs of all time. After breaking it off for good with Lilith, Frasier returns to his native Seattle, WA, where he plans on living the good life as a bachelor. But his new life becomes complicated when he is forced to take in his ex-cop father (John Mahoney), who is unable to care for himself after being injured in the line of duty. Meanwhile, his father's live-in therapist (Jane Leeves) also moves in, while his overly-prissy brother (David Hyde Pierce) makes routine visits. Frasier also has a successful career as the host of a popular radio show dispensing psychological advice, though he is routinely hassled by his wisecracking producer (Peri Gilpin). For more than a decade, Dr. Crane searches for love, while battling his blue-collar father over differences in taste and trying to one-up his brother, Niles, in a quest to gain acceptance into Seattle's cultural elite. During its run, "Frasier" won a stunning 37 Emmy Awards, breaking the record set by "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1970-77). Included in that total were Grammer's four Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1994, 1995, 1998 and 2004).
During his runs on both "Cheers" and "Frasier," Grammer became a frequent face on television, appearing in episodes of "Roc" (Fox, 1991-94) and reviving Frasier Crane for episodes of "Wings" (NBC, 1989-1997). Grammer was nominated for another Emmy for his "Wings" appearance, marking the first time an American actor was nominated on three different shows for the same character. He even landed a popular recurring role on "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ), voicing Sideshow Bob, the underappreciated sidekick of Krusty the Clown with homicidal urges toward Bart Simpson. Meanwhile, Grammer made his feature debut in the forgettable road comedy "Galaxies Are Colliding" (1992). Thanks to his increasing success on television, he leapt to the big screen with the lead in the comedy "Down Periscope" (1996), about a misfit naval crew who must use a broken-down submarine for war exercises. Grammer has also voiced characters in the Mickey Mouse short "Runaway Brain" (1995), the feature length musical "Anastasia" (1997), the TNT animated version of "Animal Farm" (1999), his self-produced Spike TV! series "Gary the Rat" (2003), the big screen spin-off of the animated series "Teacher's Pet" (2004) and as the narrator of the 1998 holiday-themed "How the Finch Stole Christmas" episode of "Just Shoot Me" (NBC, 1996-2003).
In 1999, Grammer made a return to the stage to play the title character in "Sweeney Todd" opposite long-time friend Christine Baranski in L.A.'s Reprise! musical revival series. Earlier that year, Grammer had invited Baranski to appear on "Frasier" and both collaborations won kudos from critics and audiences alike. In 2000, Grammer was seen in a less-than-successful stage endeavor when attempting to fulfill a life-long dream to play "Macbeth" on Broadway. The new production, which co-starred Juilliard classmate Diane Venora, suffered from scathing reviews and closed after only a handful of performances. Grammer was not in the critical doghouse for long, however earning yet another Emmy for "Frasier." In addition to returning for the 2000-01 season, Grammer executive-produced the sitcom "Girlfriends" (UPN/CW, 2000-08), as well as the pilot for the NBC cop drama "County 187," which was written by famed crime writer James Ellroy. On the big screen, Grammer had a small role in the comedy thriller "15 Minutes" (2001), starring Robert De Niro. Thanks to a deal signed in the summer of 2001, Grammer became the highest paid actor on television, making $1.6 million per episode of "Frasier." But Ray Romano, of "Everyone Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005), eclipsed him the next year.
Grammer continued to deliver fine performances in a variety of fare, including the holiday telepic "Mr. St. Nick" (2002), as George Washington in the television movie "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor" (2003), and in the ensemble indie comedy "The Big Empty" (2003). But it was still "Frasier" for which he was most beloved. Though it began to flounder a bit in its later years, the series experienced a long-needed creative resurgence when it entered its final season. In fact, both cast and crew were having so much fun that Grammer briefly tried to convince the network to keep the show running for one more season. Although the passing of its NBC brethren "Friends" (1994-2004) that same year dominated the headlines, "Frasier's" departure in 2004 stirred similar emotion among viewers. Just as the show aired its final episode, news broke that Grammer - who had played Frasier Crane for a whopping 20 years; just one year shy of the record set by James Arness in "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-1975) - and NBC were in discussions about launching another series chronicling the next phase in the life of the fussy psychiatrist.
Immediately post-"Frasier," the actor received good notices for his crotchety turn as Ebeneezer Scrooge in the NBC musical telepic, "A Christmas Carol" (2004), while behind the scenes, his production shingle Grammnet scored a major hit with the psychic detective series "Medium" (NBC, 2005-2011) starring Patricia Arquette. Back in the feature world, Grammer appeared in the third installment to the X-Men series, "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), playing the hairy, blue, acrobatic mutant, Dr. Hank McCoy, a.k.a. The Beast. While serving as executive producer on the "Girlfriends" spin-off, "The Game" (UPN/CW, 2006- ), Grammer returned to regular sitcom work with "Back To You" (Fox, 2007-08), playing Chuck Darling, a local news anchor who has great onscreen chemistry with co-anchor Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton), even though the two despise each other behind the scenes. Despite fine performances from the two leads, both the critical reception and ratings for the show was mixed. After a few schedule changes, the network decided not to renew the show for another season, though there was an outside shot the show could still return.
Then on May 31, 2008, just weeks after learning "Back To You" was effectively canceled, Grammer had what was originally announced as a mild heart attack, which he suffered while paddle boating in Hawaii with his third wife, former Playboy model, Camille Donatacci. He was released on June 4th and spent the ensuing weeks recovering in his Hawaiian home. On July 24, 2008, while on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1992-2009, 2010- ), Grammer claimed that it took paramedics an hour and a half to respond to the emergency call. He also revealed on "Entertainment Tonight" (Syndicated, 1981- ) that his heart attack was more severe than his publicist revealed; his heart had stopped beating, forcing doctors to use a defibrillator to revive him. Then in July, Grammer suffered more health problems while at the premiere of his next film, "Swing Vote" (2008). After feeling faint, he was admitted to an undisclosed hospital in New York as a precaution.
Through it all, Grammer kept working, playing a Wall Street exec on the short-lived sitcom "Hank" (ABC, 2009) and an orchestra conductor in the feature remake of "Fame" (2009). Grammer made his Broadway musical debut in a revival of "La Cage aux Folles" (2010), which earned him a Tony Award nomination for Leading Actor, and had a supporting role as a district attorney in the comedic drama "Middle Men" (2010), starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and James Caan. Grammer returned to the small screen, only this time as the lead in a drama, with "Boss" (Starz, 2011- ), in which he played the mayor of Chicago who is diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease, but conceals the problem from everyone in order to maintain his grip on power. Grammer's performance as the ruthless mayor earned him rave reviews, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Prior to his revelatory role on "Boss," Grammer was back in the tabloids with fresh drama, this time created by his divorce from Donatacci following their separation in 2010 after 13 years of marriage. Before the ink was dry on the reports of his announcement, Grammer declared that he was going to be a father with his much-younger girlfriend, Kayte Walsh, whom he married in early 2011 allegedly before his divorce was even finalized.
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Grammer has the distinction of being the first actor to receive Emmy nominations for peformances as the same character over three different seasons. He garnered two Emmy nods for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series playing Dr. Frasier Crane on "Cheers" and one in 1992 for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for a guest shot as a vacationing Dr. Crane on "Wings". He finally won the statuette for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 1994 for the first season of "Frasier".
In September 1996, after being involved in a traffic accident, Grammer checked into the Betty Ford Clinic.
He launched his own website at Kelseylive.com.
In May 2001, Grammer received an honorary doctorate from Amherst College in Massachusetts.
"The one thing Kelsey couldn't leave behind in playing Frasier is his big heart, and that's what people respond to ... But he is, in almost every way, diametrically opposed to the part he has played for so many years." --actor David Hyde Pierce to GQ, March 1997.
"Kelsey has no boundaries ... He was never told what was right and wrong. And now he has all the fame, the money and the power. So, he's like a child let loose on the world." --Grammer's former girlfriend Tammi Baliszewski to US, May 1997.
"I know now that drinking, for me, is something that will kill me." --Grammer to US, May 1997.
"I know the questions about 'my problems' or whatever, but they are not the defining factor of my life. The way I dealt with my problems defines me. I have cause to be proud of who I am, and I always did, but I just didn't know it. Now I do." --Grammer to TV Guide, February 21, 1998.
"Frasier is enormously human ... People recognize themselves in him, and are charmed by his willingness to fail. He just throws himself into life. He still thinks he can find love and do good.
"Oddly enough, he succeeds now and then. He's endearing because he's flawed, yet he does his best. Don't forget that he's a good man, too. But he takes himself way too seriously. His behavior becomes almost insane sometimes, because he misunderstands the facts in many situations. As long as human beings are like that--and we all are--Frasier will be popular." --Grammer to Biography, April 1998.
"I used to run away ... I used to be able to hide out in my addictions. That stopped being successful, so I quit. Quitting was very easy in one way. Once you embrace the fact that addiction is bad for you, it's easy. As Hamlet said, 'The readiness is all.' If you're ready, it's simple." --Grammer to Biography, April 1998.
"Despite the fact that I developed a reputation for being quite the L.A. partyer, I did most of my partying at home. I would pour myself five or six drinks and lose them in the house. There was always a drink around somewhere. I realized that the kind of drinking they did on 'Cheers' was nothing like real drinking. My choice at the end was vodka. That's where most people wind up. I don't know why--maybe because it has less color. I ended up at potato vodka, which I convinced myself was more real, and I thought there was some payoff for me in the potato. When I was going through a bottle a day, it became too much.
"I was about three weeks away from bottoming out when I finally checked into the Betty Ford clinic in 1996." --Grammer to Details, March 1999.
"'Othello' was a real eye-opener for me, because that's when I made the decision that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life ... And that happened because of what I had to fight for. James [Earl Jones] is one of the most generous actors in the world on stage. Christopher [Plummer] is not. In any work I go into, my goal is to always stay true to the text and true to myself, to my actor's instinct. My actor's instinct was challenged by Christopher's performance, and having learned how to stand up for the part I needed to play, I knew that acting was what I wanted to do." --Grammer to InTheater, March 15, 1999.
"Kelsey taught me Shakespeare. We were in the same class at Juilliard, and he knew more about Shakespeare than anyone. He's a classical actor who happens to have made a successful career in television." --Diane Venora, who starred as Lady Macbeth opposite Grammer, to the Boston Globe, May 14, 2000.
"There was a time when I thought there was nothing of Frasier Crane in Kelsey Grammer ... When I first knew him, there he was in torn shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, with unruly hair and all the mad partying. But over the years, I've seen the two get closer together. No one is as pompous as Frasier, but what they do share is both are driven by the desire to be kind and do the right thing." --"Cheers" writer and producer David Lee to Newsday, June 11, 2000.
"If I don't go back to live theatre every few years, I begin to feel ... rusted." --Grammer to The Observer, June 11, 2000.
"Of course I'm annoyed," Grammer said, referring to some of the cracks he had heard about his performance in "Macbeth". "All this time I was suffering under the delusion that Americans thought I was an actor." -- Grammer to Newsday, June 11, 2000.
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