We’d all like to hope that there is a limit to how much one person has to endure, but looking at the life of legendary actor Kelsey Grammer, it seems like the limit does not exist. After kicking off his drinking problem at the young age of nine, losing multiple family members, and experiencing a rocky love life full of divorces and miscarriages, Kelsey seems to have made it out surprisingly well.
Still, there’s even more drama and tragedy in Kelsey’s life that makes it hard to believe he played such a lovable character for more than 20 years. There’s a reason why Kelsey believes his family is “cursed” and that he can talk to dead people.
Grammer was born into an entertaining family on the U.S. Virgin Islands on February 21, 1955. His mother, Sally, was a singer and actress while his father, Frank, was a musician who performed often at the coffee shop their family owned.
Even at a young age, Kelsey’s parents could tell that he had a special spark in his eye when it came to entertaining and performing. Sadly, it would take a drastic measure to get Kelsey to realize it too.
Broken Family And Building Dreams
Kelsey was only two years old when his parents divorced and his entire life was uprooted. He and his younger sister Karen were forced to move to New Jersey to be raised by their mother and grandparents.
It was during this time in New Jersey that Kelsey began to realize his love of performing. He became particularly close with his grandfather, which made his death when Kelsey was only 11 even harder for the young Frasier star.
The natural death of Kelsey’s grandfather was nothing in comparison to the next tragedy in his life.
A Brutal Murder
Only two years after the death of his grandfather, Kelsey was shocked to hear his estranged father had been brutally murdered. On April 25, 1968, a man named Arthur Niles set fire to Frank Grammer’s car. When Frank went out of his house to look at the car, Niles shot him twice.
Niles even almost ran over the body, but Frank’s second wife Elizabeth ran out and pulled the body away. The news was shocking enough, but the reason why would be even more troubling for Kelsey.
An Insanity Defence
After the news broke about Frank to the rest of the Grammer family, everyone wondered who Niles was and why he chose to brutally murder their father Frank. The trial against Niles showed that there was no reason at all. Niles ended up taking an insanity plea and being committed to a mental facility.
The shock of a stone-cold murder hitting so close to the Grammer family was difficult for Kelsey to deal with as a boy, but it also inspired him to turn further towards acting.
Following His Dreams
After the back-to-back tragedies, Kelsey decided to focus on performing. He attended Pine Crest preparatory school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There, he finally began to step onto the stage. Kelsey began to sing, act, and develop his passion.
By the age of 16, Kelsey had decided that performing was his dream and that he would apply to the prestigious Julliard School. To everyone’s shock and amazement, he was accepted and soon after headed to New York.
Struggling To Get By
Kelsey was not from a very affluent family, and despite receiving a scholarship to Julliard, he had to work endlessly to pay the bills. While he was attending the performing arts school, he was essentially homeless. Kelsey recalled having to spend “months at a time sleeping in Central Park.”
Despite being homeless and working random jobs to survive at the performing arts school, Kelsey’s life was about to take a turn even he never expected.
On June 30, 1975, during Kelsey’s second year at Julliard, his younger sister Karen was brutally raped and murdered. Four men saw Karen waiting for a ride after finishing her shift as a waitress, forced her into the car, and took turns assaulting her for several hours.
The four men stabbed Karen, then threw her out of the car and left her for dead in a local trailer park. It wouldn’t be until a week later that Kelsey learned about the tragedy, and it would hurt him more than anything before.
Staring Death In The Face
It was Kelsey who had to travel to Colorado Springs a week after Karen’s brutal murder to identify the body. By Kelsey’s own accounts, the murder of his younger sister hit him the hardest. He would later tell Vanity Fair that "I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her…it very nearly destroyed me."
While Kelsey had recovered from the death of his grandfather and the murder of his father, nothing could prepare him for the after effects of Karen’s murder.
Plunging Into The Abyss
Not long after Karen’s murder, Kelsey was expelled from Julliard. He had stopped attending classes and began abusing alcohol and drugs. He later told Oprah that his first bouts of alcoholism were fueled very much because of the depression he felt because of her murder.
Grammer refers to this time in his life as a meaningless abyss and even says he lost faith in the world. Luckily, a bold career move would turn his life around.
Returning To Acting
After falling into a deep depression, Kelsey clawed his way back to reality and landed a three-year internship at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. This led to his Broadway debut in 1981 as Lennox in Macbeth.
His success on Broadway gave him the opportunity to star in another Shakespeare play, Othello, alongside superstars like James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer. It seemed like things were finally coming together for Kelsey.
From The Stage To The Screen
Kelsey’s success on the Broadway stage alongside acting greats made it easy for him to land his first television role. He played Stephen Smith on the NBC miniseries Kennedy.
NBC took notice of Kelsey and was quick to offer him the role of his life as a psychiatrist on an upcoming sitcom called Cheers. Kelsey was only offered a six-episode contract to start, but little did he know that playing Dr. Frasier Crane would change his life.
Just as Kelsey was beginning to find success, tragedy struck his family yet again, this time to two of his half brothers. Stephen and Billy Grammer were scuba diving off the coast of St. Thomas in June 1980. Stephen tragically suffered an embolism after surfacing too quickly, but no one knows what happened to Billy. Rescue teams said Billy was most likely eaten by sharks.
By this point, Kelsey seemed to be numb to the pain. Looking back on the tragedies he said, “it’s just part of life.”
Rise To Fame
Frasier Crane quickly became a fan favorite on the show Cheers. Kelsey’s character was so popular that when Cheers finally ended in May 1993, NBC ordered a spin-off show starring Kelsey’s character.
Frasier debuted in September 1993 and ran for eleven years. By 2001, Kelsey was making $700,000 per episode. Kelsey would play the character for 20 years, a record surpassed only by Richard Belzer’s Law & Order character, Detective John Munch.
His First Love
After being so horribly depressed after his sister’s murder, Kelsey never thought he’d find love. That changed in 1982 when he met dance instructor Doreen Alderman. The two quickly married and had one daughter, Spencer Grammer, in 1983.
Kelsey and Doreen stayed married until 1990 when they got divorced. Less than two years later, Kelsey had a second daughter, Kandace Greer Grammer, after a one-night-stand with a make-up artist. Both Spencer and Kandace have pursued acting like their father.
A Second, Toxic Marriage
After failing at love once, Kelsey took a chance and married a former exotic dancer Leigh-Anne Cshuany in 1992. The relationship quickly grew toxic and forced Kelsey, who was at the peak of his popularity on Cheers, to become a victim of abuse.
According to Kelsey, Csuhany would spit in his face, slap him, tear up pictures of his loved ones, and even threaten to kill him. All this forced Kelsey to divorce Csuhany when she was three months pregnant. The divorce prompted Csuhany to try and take her own life, but the pills didn’t work, and sadly resulted in a miscarriage.
Relapse To Substance Abuse
Although Kelsey had been using drugs on and off for years, the substance abuse spiraled out of control after his second divorce. Kelsey talked about this time as a "love affair with cocaine." He had a series of arrests and the drug abuse even leaked into his work life.
Looking back on the peak of his substance abuse, one Frasier writer said that Kelsey would "ooze into the studio" completely out of it, would snap into character no problem, then was the director would yell "cut!" he would "ooze back into Kelsey—glazed over eyes, half asleep."
It was during this time dark time in Kelsey’s life that legal controversy came knocking. He was accused of statutory rape of his child’s babysitter in 1995, as she was only 15 at the time. The case was going to go to trial but the grand jury decided not to indict Kelsey.
The same year, an ex-girlfriend sued Kelsey for defamation because of the things he wrote about her out of court. The legal troubles were consuming Kelsey and he realized he finally needed to make a drastic change in his life.
Cleaning Up His Act
After years of substance abuse, legal troubles, and personal life dramas, Kelsey decided in 1996 to check himself in the Betty Ford Center. Looking back on his substance abuse, he said, “it’s a fond memory, but it’s no longer a friend.”
By 1996, Kelsey was able to completely cut out drugs from his lifestyle but admits he still has a drink or two every once in a while.
Videotape Scandals That Won’t Go Away
In 1998, Kelsey filed a lawsuit against Internet Entertainment Group in which he claimed that they stole a personal videotape from his home. On the videotape was Kelsey having sex with a woman. Internet Entertainment Group ended up counter-suing Kelsey and the suit eventually went away, but rumors of a videotape have not.
To this day, there are still whispers that a Kelsey Grammer adult videotape exists and that the owner might be waiting for the right time to sell it.
On September 11, 2001, Kelsey’s close friend and the former producer of Frasier, David Angel, died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Angell was traveling with his wife, Lynn, on American Airlines Flight 11. The flight was the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.
Although Kelsey had cleaned up his act years earlier, he says this moment was when he turned to religion to help find answers. He now credits religion for helping him get over these moments.
Third Time’s The Charm
After cleaning up his act, Kelsey decided to try and find love again. In August 1997, he married former Playboy model Camille Donatacci. The two were very open about their struggles to have children. It was difficult for Kelsey after his second wife miscarried, but the couple eventually had two children together, both born to a surrogate mother.
It seemed like this time the match would last. Little did Kelsey know, it would be his messiest divorce yet.
Rumors Of Cross-Dressing
Kelsey and Camille divorced in 2010 and the annulment led to a flurry of nasty rumors that unfolded in the public eye. Kelsey cited “irreconcilable differences,” but Camille went so far as to say that the two “just didn’t mesh sexually” because he was a cross-dresser.
Camille alleged that Kelsey wears women’s underwear and lingerie in his spare time and that he would wear heels to “surprise” her.
A Near-Death Experience
In 2008, Kelsey was paddleboarding on vacation in Hawaii when he was struck by a sudden heart attack. His representatives announced it was a mild heart attack, but Kelsey revealed weeks later that it was much worse. In fact, his heart had completely stopped while he was on the paddleboard and he was moments away from death.
Kelsey later said that he believed FOX’s choice to cancel his sitcom Back To You was why he had the heart attack.
Being Thankful For Everything
Even though Kelsey nearly lost his life in 2008, he has said that it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He appeared on Oprah’s Next Chapter and said that the health scare "was a good event in my life" because it taught him a lesson.
Kelsey took the near-death experience as a sign that his work so far to clean up his act wasn’t enough, and that he’d need an entire health overhaul to continue on in life.
Talking To The Dead
We’re not sure if it came before or after he found religion, but Kelsey claims to be able to speak to the dead. In particular, he has a 2,000-year-old friend called Alex who has apparently taught him the "nature of good and evil."
Unfortunately, they don’t reveal much else. In an interview, Kelsey said that what he mainly hears from ghosts and spirits is that they "miss food on the other side."
A Rare Hollywood Republican
Kelsey is notable for being one of the few staunch Republicans in Hollywood. He has even expressed the desire to one day run for United States Congress and possibly even the Presidency. He’s also been very open with candidates that he supports. He endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008, Michele Bachmann in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016.
Kelsey has different stances with traditional Republicans on some issues, and firmly believed in same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights.
Lending His Voice To The Simpsons
Aside from the character of Dr. Frasier Crane, Kelsey is probably best known for lending his voice to the iconic villain from The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob. In fact, Kelsey calls Sideshow Bob "the most popular character I’ve ever played."
At first, Kelsey assumed that Sideshow Bob would be a one-time gig but had admitted to loving the role. He often joins the cast for table reads and has also used his Broadway singing voice for the character.
Finding Love For The Fourth Time
After three marriages and three nasty divorces, it seems that Kelsey may have met his match. Kelsey married Kayte Walsh, an English flight attendant and daughter of formed soccer star Alan Walsh. Despite being 25 years younger than him, Kelsey and Kayte seem to be a perfect match.
They have two children together and share similar political views, even making headlines recently for saying climate change is a myth.
Old Wounds Reopened
Just when Kelsey thought he was done with his tragic past, the parole hearing for the man who murdered his sister Karen came up. Kelsey was asked to speak at the hearing.
Despite having told Oprah years earlier that he had found religion and decided to forgive the man, Kelsey would not support his parole hearing. He even went so far as to say that doing so would "be a betrayal of my sister’s life."
The Death Of A Second Father
John Mahoney played Kelsey Grammer’s TV father figure Martin Crane on the hit TV show Frasier. The two bonded on the set just as Kelsey was going through some of the most difficult struggles of his life. Mahoney passed away due to health complications in February 2018 and it completely tore Kelsey apart.
Speaking out on social media, Kelsey said that Mahoney was his father and that he “really loved him.”