Kelsey Grammer is best known for playing the lovable Dr. Frasier Crane on both Cheers and Frasier for over two decades.
He’s built a career on his charm and humour, which is why it’s so hard to believe his personal life has been marred by so much tragedy.
The details of his early life led to Kelsey spiralling into a deep depression and period of addiction.
Though he’s now reconciled his past and is in a much better place, Grammer has been through enough trauma for five lifetimes. Here’s everything that happened.
What happened to Kelsey Grammer’s family?
Grammer’s parents split up when he was two years old, and he and his sister were raised by their grandparents in New Jersey. A decade later, when Grammer was 12, his grandfather died of a heart attack.
The following year, his father Frank, who was living in Saint Thomas with his second wife, was murdered in a home invasion. A man set fire to Frank’s car while it was parked in the driveway. When Frank went out to investigate, he was shot twice by a man named Arthur B. Niles. Frank’s wife later testified that she had to move her husband’s dead body after Niles threatened to run it over with his car.
Niles was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and spent a few years in mandated psychiatric care.
The streak of terrible tragedies continued: seven years later in 1975, when Grammer was 20, his 18-year-old sister was kidnapped then raped and murdered. She was a victim in a crime spree by three men, including Freddie Glenn and Michael Corbett, who killed five people. Karen Grammer was abducted from outside the restaurant where she worked, and was later found by police with a slit throat. Grammer had to identify his sister’s body.
Glenn and Corbett were sent to jail but maintained their innocence for decades until a parole hearing in 2014. In the decades since the murder, Grammer has repeatedly testified at parole hearings that the men should not be released, saying that it would “be a betrayal of my sister’s life”.
“I miss her in my bones,” he wrote to the parole board. “I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her — I could not…. It very nearly destroyed me.”
Grammer ultimately forgave Glenn after he expressed remorse for his actions.
Five years after Karen’s murder, Grammer’s two half-brothers, Stephen and Billy, died in a scuba diving accident in Saint Thomas. When Billy failed to resurface after a dive, Stephen went back down to look for him and died of an air embolism while ascending improperly. Billy’s body was never recovered.
What happened to Kelsey Grammer?
After this string of tragedies, Grammer was very affected. He blamed himself for his sister’s death, despite the fact he didn’t even live in the same state as her at the time. “I abandoned the effort to find a reason to be alive,” he told Radio Times.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s not rational. But it happens anyway. I know a lot of people who’ve lost their siblings and blame themselves,” he later told Vanity Fair.
Before her death, Grammer was studying singing and stage acting at Julliard School on a scholarship. He stopped attending classes after Karen’s murder and was expelled.
He famously struggled for years with alcohol and drug addictions, which he later admitted were fuelled by his guilt and depression. He was arrested three times between 1988 and 1991 for drunk driving and cocaine possession. In 1996, after crashing a car while driving drunk he checked into rehab — his cast mates on both Frasier and Cheers staged interventions to attempt to help him.
“I liked it,” he said to Oprah in 2012 about his alcohol addiction. “I liked the way it made me feel. Maybe it was because I was running away from the feelings that weren’t, you know, as comfortable as I wanted them to do be, and maybe I do have a self-destructive part of me.”
“Every one of us is going to experience some terrible loss,” he told Vanity Fair. “I just got a big dose. For every story you hear that’s tragic, there’s another that’s equally tragic or more so. I think you come to look at it as part of life.”
In 2008, Grammer had a near death experience: he suffered a heart attack while paddleboarding in Hawaii. He later told Oprah that his heart had stopped and he nearly died. Grammer took this as a sign to re-evaluate his lifestyle choices and confront the issues in his life.
“I just put [that pain] where it is: in the past. But it’s a pain that you can always stumble into again it’s with you 24/7, especially in the case of tragic death, and there have been a few of those.”
What does Kelsey Grammer do now?
Grammer is still acting, mainly on stage in theatre productions. In 2019 he played Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha in London, and in 2020 he starred in a run of The Boy Friend in Canada.
He also voices recurring character Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons and stars in upcoming 2020 film The God Committee.
Mentally and physically, Grammer says he’s in a much better place. “If you can find a place where you can forgive yourself, then you can enjoy life very well,” he told The Times. In 2011, he married flight attendant Kayte Walsh, who is 25 years his junior.
She “lit up my world and changed my heart, which was a bit calloused and hardened against a lot of things,” he told Vanity Fair.
How much did Kelsey Grammer make on Frasier?
After 20 years playing Dr Crane on Cheers and Frasier, Grammer was making bank. By the final few seasons of Frasier, he was earning US$1.6 million per episode, making him the third-highest paid TV actor still to this day.
How much is Kelsey Grammer worth?
These days, the actor’s net worth is estimated to be around US$60 million. When he divorced his wife Camille Grammer in 2011, she reportedly received a US$30 million cash settlement.
Who are Kelsey Grammer’s kids?
Grammer has seven kids, two of whom have become successful actors.
Spencer Grammer, who’s middle name is Karen after Kelsey’s sister, has had a career in television since the mid ’00s. She’s best known for voicing Summer on Rick and Morty, and Casey on comedy series Greek.
Greer Grammer, Spencer’s half-sister, was born in 1992 and transitioned into acting after a short career as a beauty queen. She had a main role on MTV show Awkward, and on short-lived sitcom The Middle.
He is also dad to daughters Mason Olivia Grammer, 18, Faith Evangeline Elisa Grammer, seven, and sons Jude Gordon Grammer, 15, Kelsey Gabriel Elias Grammer, five, and Auden James Ellis Grammer, three.
Frasier cast: Then and now