Frasier Was One Of The Biggest Shows Of The ’90s, But Off Camera Its Stars Hid Some Dark Secrets

From 1993 to 2004, Frasier was huge. The Cheers spinoff had become just as acclaimed as its parent show, earning a whopping 37 Primetime Emmys over the course of its run. But behind the scenes its cast – the main members being Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney and Peri Gilpin – were experiencing difficulties. Even the show’s beloved dog Eddie wasn’t all that he seemed.

20. Grammer’s pre-Frasier life was full of tragedy

Grammer has been through terrible things in his life – more than anyone should ever have to face. In 1968 his father was murdered during a break-in; the man who killed him ended up being sent to a mental health hospital. Then, in 1975 something even worse happened. His sister Karen was kidnapped and killed at the age of 18.

Grammer – who was only 20 at that time – had to identify Karen’s body and tell their mom what had happened. It haunted him for the rest of his life. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his half-siblings Steven and Billy died while scuba-diving in 1980. Billy’s remains were never found.

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19. The show’s co-creator died on 9/11

David Angell, the man who helped create Frasier, died along with his spouse Lynn during the terrible events of 9/11. The two of them were onboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it was sent into the World Trade Center, the first aircraft to be crashed. Needless to say, the cast and crew of the show were utterly devastated.

In 2018 Pierce told Vanity Fair that on hearing the news, “I collapsed to the floor without even thinking. The impossibility of it. Not just because it was someone we knew, but because they were two of the best people that ever walked the Earth. It was an inconceivable loss of those two beautiful human beings.” The child of Niles and Daphne was named David as a tribute to Angell.

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18. Peri Gilpen found the show hard at first

When Peri Gilpen was first cast as Roz, she found it difficult acting alongside Grammer as Frasier. During an NBC celebration of the show’s co-creator called An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows in 2016, she told a story about how she found herself being compared unfavorably to Grammer’s Cheers co-star Kirstie Alley.

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Gilpen explained, “I wasn’t sure how far to take it. You know how in the beginning you’re trying to figure out your character and who they are? So, I was standing there with Kelsey [Grammer] and Jimmy [Burrows], and Jimmy goes, ‘Well, what’re you gonna do?’ And I was like, ‘Well…’ And Kelsey goes, ‘Ugh, I wish Kirstie was here.’” Ouch.

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17. David Hyde Pierce was closeted throughout the show

David Hyde Pierce played Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier, the long-time love interest of Daphne. Yet in real life, Pierce was actually gay – but he didn’t reveal this until after the show had ended. In fact, it was only in 2007 that he came out to the world, doing so at the Tony Awards.

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In 2010 Pierce told Time, “I tried for years to live my life and let that be the statement. But in the last year that wasn’t good enough for me. It stopped being honest, and with all the things that have happened over the last year with marriage equality, it just wasn’t enough.” Once he was out, he said, “I was amazed at how it changed me.”

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16. John Maloney disliked an aspect of the show

John Maloney played Marty, the father of Frasier and Niles. But just before the show reached its end, Maloney thought that it was starting to become tired. In 2005 he revealed to The Times, “We had taken the show as far as it could go. We did 260 episodes in 11 years.”

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Mahoney went on, “I was afraid we were beginning to repeat ourselves and vulgarize ourselves a bit in looking for things that we hadn’t done.” But his main complaint was with the Niles-Daphne relationship. He said, “I think it lost something when [they] got married. He stopped being so tense and fussy. She stopped being so weird. I think people wanted them to get together, but didn’t realize the consequences.”

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15. Kirstie Alley apparently turned down the show

Those who came to Frasier from Cheers would’ve noticed that Kirstie Alley’s character Rebecca was conspicuously missing from the spinoff. But why exactly was this the case? Well, according to those involved, it was because Frasier is about a psychologist. And as a Scientologist, Alley flat-out doesn’t believe in psychology.

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In 2004 Frasier producer and co-creator David Lee spoke to the Sun Sentinel. He explained that once the show was given the green light, Alley called him up and “coldly” told him she couldn’t be on the show because of her religious beliefs. Lee supposedly responded with the words, “I don’t recall asking.” Alley’s still a Scientologist to this day.

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14. Grammer would brag about money

In 2001 it was reported by the media that Grammer was the highest-paid actor there had ever been on television. According to Variety, he was getting more than $1.6 million every episode. But his co-stars, on the other hand, were paid less. David Hyde Pierce, in comparison, reportedly got around $750,000, with Jane Leeves picking up a “mere” $400,000.

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Grammer knew he was the star of the show right from the beginning, and he wasn’t above boasting. In 2018 Pierce recollected to Vanity Fair, “At some point in the first season, I said to Kelsey, ‘Does this mean I’ll never have to work again?’ and he said, ‘No, it means I’ll never have to work again.’”

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13. An actor’s true sexuality surprised everyone

Actor Dan Butler played Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe, the macho and sexist co-worker of Fraiser and Roz. His character certainly didn’t appear to be gay – but Butler was. In 1994, while Frasier was still in its youth, he came out publicly with a theater piece titled The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me.

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Just after his coming out, Butler did in interview with LA Times and said he loved playing a “maniacally heterosexual” person on Frasier. He told the publication, “I have a ball with the character. Bulldog is also a nice counterpoint to Frasier and the rest of the intelligentsia who come around.”

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12. Jane Leeves suffered “hell” during the finale

When Frasier came to an end after 11 seasons, all the cast members were sorry to leave. Even though the ending of the show was planned in advance after season ten, the actors were saying goodbye to their friends. Quite a lot of tears were shed while filming on the last batch of episodes got underway.

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In 2004 – which wasn’t long after the show went off the air – Leeves told The Telegraph, “Oh, God, the end of Frasier was absolute hell, devastating.” But interestingly she also added, “Everyone was begging Kelsey to carry on, even the network. But the studios had made all their money. They didn’t want to know.”

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11. David Hyde Pierce didn’t like his character

In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Pierce confessed that he wasn’t actually a big fan of his character Niles. Though he had won awards for playing him – a Screen Actors Guild award and an Emmy, no less – Pierce still disliked Niles’ personality. He even called him “finicky.”

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Pierce went on to say, “Now when I think about the character, it’s a little upsetting. That they met with me for 45 minutes and this is what they came up with… I think I couldn’t stand him. I remember people like him at school and never really hung out with them – people for whom their world is the only world.”

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10. Roz’s pregnancy caused difficulties

The writers of Frasier had a little trouble with pregnancies. During the filming of season seven, Leeves really was pregnant – but it was waved away in the show by explaining that Daphne had developed a stress-eating problem. But prior to that, the writers decided to give a pregnancy storyline to Gilpin’s Roz in season five.

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Gilpin herself, though, wasn’t expecting – but appearing on-screen as if she had been caused consternation among her friends and family. She had to explain it to them. But after all that, it was decided – apparently largely by Grammer – that the show couldn’t handle a child actor. So, Roz’s baby was quietly moved to the sidelines without appearing all that much in the program.

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9. Kelsey Grammer and Shelley Long had to make up

Back when Cheers was first kicking off, nobody expected that Grammer’s Frasier would become so popular a character he’d get his own spin-off. And Shelley Long – who played Diane Chambers – absolutely didn’t care for the attention Frasier was getting. According to Grammer himself, the writers kept him on the show mostly because they knew it would annoy Long.

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Then, in 1996 Long was asked to make a cameo as Diane on Fraiser, and she accepted. Perhaps surprisingly, she and Grammer demonstrated no hard feelings. Long admitted to Sun Sentinel that year that she hadn’t always been easy to get along with on Cheers. However, they’d seemingly gotten past any difficulties. As she put it, “What is important is that you move on.”

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8. John Mahoney didn’t like his Frasier fame

Many people enjoy the fame that comes with being part of a successful TV show – but not John Mahoney. In 1996 he told the Chicago Tribune, “I come from a secretive Irish family. I cherish my privacy.” And he added, “I don’t have a scrap more talent than so many actors in Chicago. I just happened to be blessed by being lucky.”

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During the course of Frasier, Mahoney never went on talk shows like all his co-stars did. He told the Tribune, “I used to crave publicity. I now turn almost everything down. I would rather walk across broken glass.” Mahoney continued to keep his private life private until he passed away in 2018.

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7. Lisa Kudrow was let go from the role of Roz

The producers of Frasier originally cast Lisa Kudrow as Roz Doyle. But during rehearsals, they decided she wasn’t right for the role and called up Peri Gilpin instead. Gilpin recollected to Vanity Fair in 2018 that Kudrow – who was a friend of hers – called her up and said, “I want you to know this is your job. I don’t want you to feel bad about it. I want you to enjoy it.”

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In 2018 director James Burrows told Yahoo! Entertainment, “What Lisa does, she does great. It’s the storyline of that show, [Roz] has to turn Frasier. She has to be strong. Lisa plays that airhead, stuff like that. We all didn’t feel like that was the right moment for her.” But not to worry. Not long after losing her Frasier role, Kudrow was cast on Friends as Phoebe.

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6. Kelsey Grammer sparked controversy with an Instagram post

In 2015 Grammer’s wife Kayte posted a picture of him on social media. In the pic he was wearing an anti-abortion t-shirt which displayed the message “Would it bother us more if they used guns?” The shirt was apparently from Abort73, an organization created by a group called the Christian Loxafamosity Ministries.

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Grammer received backlash for this because of the abortion stance and gun control issue his t-shirt referenced. But in 2018 Grammer did an interview with The Times where he insisted he had “as much respect for women and women’s issues as possible.” However, he also thought they had a “choice well before a baby is conceived.” The post is now gone from social media.

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5. Writers wrote embarrassing moments into the scripts

In a 2018 Vanity Fair retrospective of Frasier, the creators spoke about how they drew on their own lives to find awkward situations the characters could suffer through. The members of the writing room called this process “pulling your pants down.” And of course, it led to some great sitcom moments.

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Writer Bob Daily remembered in the article, “I used to take my daughter to art class at LACMA. She was pointing out something to me in a painting with her pencil. I had to do a slow-motion dive before she could write on this multi-million-dollar painting. That inspired an episode where Roz’s daughter doctored up a painting that Niles was about to donate to an art museum.” And the dead seal in one episode was inspired by, yep, a real dead seal.

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4. Grammer’s relationships have been chaotic

Grammer has had no less than four wives, and he has kids with several different women. His first spouse was dancer Doreen Alderman, who he had one daughter with. After that, he had another child with stylist Barrie Buckner, but he didn’t marry her. Then, he moved on to Leigh-Anne Csuhany.

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Grammer has always maintained that Csuhany was abusive towards him. In 1994, as Frasier was in full swing, Grammer became engaged to a woman called Tammi Baliszewski, but no wedding took place. Three years later, he married model Camille Donatacci and had two kids with her. But after a 2011 divorce, he went on to marry Kayte Walsh. He’s still with her, and they have three children.

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3. Eddie wasn’t all he seemed

The cuddliest member of the Frasier cast was Eddie the Jack Russell terrier. However – gasp – Eddie wasn’t actually played by the same dog throughout the whole series. At first, he was played by a pup called Moose. But by 2000 Moose was getting too old to act. Action needed to be taken to disguise this.

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Apparently, the make-up department for the show used to paint Moose to hide the fact that he’d gone gray. But that couldn’t go on forever, so eventually Moose’s doggy son Enzo was drafted in. Moose lasted a few more years after Frasier came to an end, passing away in 2006.

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2. Grammer’s drug use disrupted the show

For a long time, Grammer struggled with serious substance abuse. Eventually, it became obvious that it was affecting the production of Frasier. One 1996 episode called Head Games, in fact, had to be rewritten after Grammer flipped his car over and was arrested for driving under the influence. The cast had to act before things got even worse.

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The cast of Frasier held an intervention for their co-star. In 2004 Mahoney remembered it to Today, saying “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life because basically, it’s kicking a dead horse. It’s going to somebody’s house whom you love, who’s down, and just beating him down even further for his own good. And it was horrifying.” But it worked.

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1. Grammer didn’t want a reboot

In 2018 Grammer spoke at the USC Comedy Festival about the possibility of a Frasier reboot. He seemed quite against the idea, saying, “No, there’s been no premise that has come along that has the necessary fire. A lot of us are quite committed to the concept that you would never try to redo what we once had.”

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Yet, Grammer seems to have recently changed his mind. In 2019 he spoke on In Depth with Graham Bensinger about a reboot. He said, “We’ve hatched the plan, what we think is the right way to go. [We’re] working on a couple of possible network deals that we’re sorting. We just have to staff it and find somebody who wants to give us money for it. You never know.” So, that’s good news for fans.

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