Kelsey Grammer

Active - 1988 - Present  |   Born - Feb 21, 1955 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

For better or worse, leading actor Kelsey Grammer's name will probably forever be associated with the pompous, garrulous, and self-absorbed but lovable psychiatrist Frasier Crane, a character Grammer has played on television since he first appeared on the NBC sitcom Cheers, in 1984, as a love interest for Shelley Long. Though Frasier was not intended to become a series regular, Grammer's performance of the blowhard neurotic charmed audiences and he remained with Cheers through its 1993 demise. At the beginning of the 1993-1994 television season, Grammer's character was resurrected in his own show and moved from Boston to Seattle, where he became a radio psychologist and faced a whole slew of folks just waiting to poke metaphorical pins in his hot air balloon. Thanks to excellent performances and top-notch writing, Frasier became as big a hit as its predecessor. Grammer won three Emmy awards and was nominated for seven more (twice for Cheers, once for his guest appearance on a 1992 episode of Wings, four times for Frasier) for playing the character.

Born on St. Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Grammer knew extreme tragedy in youth. Following the shooting death of his father when he was a boy, he was raised in New Jersey and then Florida, by his mother and grandfather. His grandfather died before Grammer became a teen. When he was 20, his sister was abducted and violently murdered. Five years later, he lost two half brothers in a diving accident. As a young man, Grammer found comfort in Shakespeare; with his acting debut in a high school production of The Little Foxes came an interest in pursuing drama as a career. He enrolled in Juilliard, but dropped out after two years to work at San Diego's Old Globe Theater, where he gained three years' invaluable experience performing in Shakespearean and classical dramas; afterward, Grammer performed in productions across the country. He eventually made it to Broadway, where he appeared in various productions, including Othello.

Prior to playing Frasier, Grammer appeared occasionally on television and had regular roles in three soap operas, including One Life to Live. He continues to occasionally guest star on other series. Fans of the animated satire The Simpsons will recognize his periodic voice characterization as the venomous Sideshow Bob. Miniseries and telemovies in which he has appeared include London Suite and Beyond Suspicion. Grammer made his feature film debut with a small role in Top of the Hill (1989) and had his first starring role in the much-panned comedy Down Periscope (1996). In addition to his Emmy kudos, Grammer has received an American Comedy Award, two Golden Globes, and a People's Choice Award. In 1995, he published his autobiography So Far.

Grammer would spend the following years taking on TV roles on shows like Back to You and Boss, but would find even more success as a producer, helping bring shows like The Game, Girlfriends, Hank, Medium, and World Cup Comedy to fruition. In 2014, he returned to acting in a big way, making a cameo appearance in X-Men: Days of Future Past, reprising his role as Beast, playing the bad guy in Transformers: Age of Extinction, and returning to television in the FX series Partners.

Movie Highlights

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  • Played the role of Sweeney Todd on stage in Los Angeles in 1999 opposite friend Christine Baranski.
  • Was cast as Frasier Crane on Cheers after John Lithgow, the producers' first choice, became unavailable.
  • Played Dr. Crane for 20 years, matching the record run of James Arness as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke.
  • Is the only actor to be nominated for Emmys playing the same character in three different shows: Cheers, Wings and Frasier.
  • Provides the voice of Sideshow Bob in guest appearances on The Simpsons.
  • Co-owns (with ex-wife Camille) Grammnet Productions, credited with numerous television programs including Medium.
  • Married fourth wife Kayte on the Longacre Theater stage soon after his Broadway run in the revival of La Cage aux Folles, which played in that venue.
  • Daughter Greer was named Miss Golden Globe 2015.