Inside The Tragic Life Of Kelsey Grammer

American actor Kelsey Grammer has lived a life full of ups and downs. The artist shot to fame for his role in Cheers, in which he played the intriguing psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane. Over the years, the versatile actor has garnered recognition for his unmatched skills and acting talent. He was honored with the Golden Globe Award three times: for his work on Frasier in 1996 and 2001 and for Boss in 2012. Grammer has continued to stay active through the years and is still a part of the entertainment industry.

His professional success aside, less known is the fact that Kelsey Grammer has led a very tragic life and has lived through several traumatic experiences. From his family life to fighting addiction to his romantic relationships, things have often been topsy-turvy for the actor, who has somehow managed to brave it all and stay strong. "I just put that pain where it is; in the past," he once said (via the Associated Press). "But it's 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. It's just part of life."

Here's a look at some of the most important events from the actor's life, including his childhood, his years in the theater and television industries, his acting triumphs, his broken relationships, his life lessons, and more. 

Kelsey Grammer's parents separated when he was a kid

Kelsey Grammer was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. His dad owned a bar and grill called Greer's Place. When Grammer was around two years old, his parents decided to separate, and he moved with his mom and sister to New Jersey and then Florida. Meanwhile, his father stayed on the islands. He married someone else and fathered more children. 

Grammer was deeply attached to his grandfather, who raised him with the actor's mom. Sadly, as reported by Business Insider, Grammer lost him when he was just 11 years old: a huge blow and something that was understandably tough for the boy to deal with. What he didn't know back then was that he would have to endure a lot more over the next few years in terms of tragedies and learning to live with losing loved ones.

Kelsey Grammer's father was murdered

Tragedy struck again in 1968 when Kelsey Grammer's father, Frank, was killed. The future actor was just 13 at the time. According to Business Insider, a stranger named Arthur B. Niles set Frank's car on fire and then shot him as he ran outside. Niles was believed to be mentally ill and was kept in a psychiatric ward for many years. In 1994, he was set free but ended up in jail in 2003 when he threatened to murder a judge.

As reported by USA Today, Grammer didn't know about his father's murderer being released until he read about it in a tabloid, and he later became vocal about the rights of individuals who've been subjected to heinous crimes. According to a contemporary piece on Frank's murder published by United Press International, Grammer's dad was a rather vocal magazine publisher and was controversial on the islands for his outspoken nature. His murder led to a rise in racial tensions between the islands' white and Black residents at the time. As for Grammer, losing his grandfather and dad in such a short period of time was a lot to take in.

Kelsey Grammer's sister was murdered

Kelsey Grammer and his family went through more heartbreak when the actor was 20 years old. In July 1975, seven years after his father was killed, Grammer's sister, Karen, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered. She was 18. Grammer was the one who had to identify her body.

Karen's attackers were two men named Freddie Glenn and Michael Corbett. They were found guilty and initially put on death row, a decision that was later overturned. Corbett died in prison in 2019. Glenn tried to seek parole several times, but Grammer has blocked his attempts (via The Independent). He said, "I have learnt to forgive. I have even told the guy I forgive him, although I don't advocate his freedom. I don't think that is reasonable," the actor said. He further added that he believed that Glenn shouldn't be free simply because "the punishment shouldn't be worse for the family than it is for the guy that killed the person." 

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Grammer reflected on one of the most painful experiences he's lived through. He revealed that he told the parole board in 2009 that he misses Karen immensely and that as her big brother, he felt he was supposed to protect her. When he couldn't, he was gutted.

Kelsey Grammer lost his half-brothers in an accident

Kelsey Grammer had to live through more trauma when he lost two of his half-brothers in a scuba diving accident five years after his sister was murdered. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Steven and Billy Grammer were out scuba diving in the Virgin Islands in June 1980. When Billy didn't come back to the surface after the dive, Steven went looking for him. Unfortunately, he passed away from an embolism, probably on account of an ascent gone wrong. Billy was never found.

Grammer has acknowledged in interviews that tragedy has been an integral part of his life. The actor hasn't shied away from speaking about the heartbreak he's suffered from losing so many members of his family. "Every one of us is going to experience some terrible loss," he said (via 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."

Kelsey Grammer first discovered acting in high school

Kelsey Grammer started acting early. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, he was 16 years old when he played a role in a theater production of The Little Foxes in school. For him, hearing the audience clapping and appreciating his acting skills was as rewarding as being on a surfboard and riding a wave. "I didn't excel at school because I was surfing most of the time," Grammer reflected years later. "But when I heard the applause after that first play, at that very moment I thought, I could do this for the rest of my life. And that's kind of what happened," he added.

As explained by Hello! magazine, Grammer was good enough to make it into the respected Juilliard School. However, his time at the institution didn't last. According to the actor, he was kicked out because of a lack of discipline on his part.

Kelsey Grammer's acting career began with theater

Grammer's acting career took off with theater. According to, he made his Broadway debut playing Lennox in Macbeth in 1981. As detailed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, getting to that point wasn't easy for Grammer, who had to rough it out in regional theater. After he was expelled from Juilliard, Grammer promptly made his way to the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. He was a part of the institution for three summers and worked on getting better at acting. "I did plays by Shakespeare and Shaw, and that really cemented my sense of professionalism," Grammer said.

A casting director, Mary Jo Slater, who worked with Grammer and first met him in 1978, described him as handsome, with a mop of curly, blond hair. "He was young and charismatic, funny and very charming. Kelsey was someone who stood out from the rest of the guys," she said. She helped Grammer by getting him gigs that helped him get by. He helped her out by looking after her son, Christian Slater (who later became a successful actor as well). Things were so hard between jobs at one point that Grammer even considered collecting unemployment benefits but found it too saddening and demoralizing. He worked had, took on small roles, and found a way to slowly make a name for himself. 

Kelsey Grammer's big break was his role as Dr. Frasier Crane

Kelsey Grammer's big break was, undoubtedly, his role as psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane in Cheers. According to Mental Floss, he was added to the show in its third season. While he was initially supposed to only be around for a small number of episodes, Frasier became popular on account of good writing and Grammer's acting skills. Of course, he ended up starring as Dr. Crane in the spin-off Frasier. The show first aired in 1993 and ran for 11 years.

In fact, Grammer was Frasier on-screen for a really long time: 20 years, to be precise. When it comes to his acting process, Grammer revealed to The Guardian that his acting process is relatively spontaneous. "I'm a walk-on guy," he said. "When the director says, 'Action,' I'm on." According to The Independent, Grammer never really let his success get to his head and stayed true to his roots. He said that he views the industry as a chance to get work and not as a way to either be famous or rich.

Kelsey Grammer battled addiction

Kelsey Grammer got into drinking and drugs in a bid to cope with the pain he felt from the tragedies that struck his family, according to Page Six. Grammer's drinking ended up landing him in prison in 1990 for drunk driving. "I've been through my share of tough times," Grammer told Parade in 2007. "I'm a very different guy now."

Grammer's vices weren't limited to alcohol and drugs. Women, extreme experiences, and recklessness were all a part of it. He has stated that he considers himself "an addictive personality" and that he was on self-destructive path at one point. Grammer admitted that he "liked [his] addictions," but knew it was getting too much. "I got in too deep. I probably would've died if I hadn't stopped," he reflected.

Luckily for Grammer, his Frasier co-stars knew he needed help and did everything they could to support him. They even organized an intervention for their friend (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet) three years into Frasier, at which point it finally dawned upon Grammer that he needed to seek help to fight his addictions. While it was hard for the rest of the show's cast because they weren't sure what would happen, the intervention worked. He voluntarily checked into the Betty Ford Center in 1996 to overcome his addiction and live a life of sobriety.

Kelsey Grammer's personal life has been turbulent

When it came to his personal relationships, drama was seemingly unavoidable for Kelsey Grammer. He got married three times and endured plenty of heartbreak until he found peace with his fourth wife, Kayte Walsh (pictured above), whom he married in 2011. According to Hollywood Life, Grammer revealed that his third marriage, with actor Camille Grammer, was exhausting. When he was asked to describe any point in a past relationship when he knew things wouldn't work out, the actor said, "My previous marriage, honestly, I don't really talk about her [Camille] very much because so much of her life is spent talking about me."

Grammer said that after his mom passed away, his ex-wife threw a tantrum at the funeral and started asking him to divorce her. Grammer said that the couple had been involved in the same conversation for eight long years, and he was tired. "I realized at that moment that I was done with her... that I was not going to end up in this relationship for much longer and somewhere under a year, I was done," Grammer reflected.

On top of that, Grammer's second wife, an exotic dancer named Leigh-Anne Csuhany, was abusive (via People). Right from the beginning of their relationship, she would insult Grammer in public and say hurtful things to him. Toward the end of their marriage, she told one of Grammer's friends that she planned to shoot him and burn down their house, after which the actor got a restraining order and ended the marriage.

Kelsey Grammer lost some of his kids

Kelsey Grammer's wife, Kayte Walsh, experienced more than one miscarriage before their kids were born, per the Associated Press. Grammer said, "Kayte and I had a couple of miscarriages before we had our first child. That was devastating. These things are hard. But when it's good, it's magnificent." He also referred to his previous relationships and said that he'd found his current relationship at the right time: "I survived my previous relationships just in time to land in a place where I could be in a relationship with a terrific person."

When Grammer was with Leigh-Anne Csuhany in 1993, things were rather difficult. The couple were expecting their first child when things took a turn for the worse. According to People, Grammer had filed a restraining order against Csuhany, and he sent her a notice demanding an annulment. Csuhany, who was three months pregnant at the time, didn't take the news well and tried to kill herself. Fortunately, she was rushed to a hospital and treated. However, the pregnancy was aborted a few days afterward. Grammer said back then, "I am deeply saddened by the events leading to the loss of the unborn child ... I had dreamed of raising the baby in a stable and loving environment."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Kelsey Grammer suffered a heart attack in 2008

In 2008, Kelsey Grammer went through a health scare when he suffered a heart attack. His publicist, Stan Rosenfield, said at the time, "Grammer experienced symptoms Saturday morning after paddle boarding with his wife Camille at their Hawaiian home." He added that the actor was rushed to a hospital, where doctors concluded that he'd had a mild heart attack (via ABC News).

In 2012, when the actor looked back at the incident, he said that he was grateful for the experience.  "It was a good thing in my life," he said on Oprah's Next Chapter (via the Toronto Sun). "It was the physical manifestation of whatever lesson was being taught to me, which was you better fix it (your life) now. " He added that it did take him a few years, but he finally understood that he needed to change a few things about his life and be better.

Kelsey Grammer has been embroiled in legal controversies

Kelsey Grammer's troubles have been numerous, to say the least, and that includes legal troubles. In 1995, a babysitter accused him of rape, a charged for which a grand jury declined to indict Grammer (via The New York Times). The jury ruled that the young woman's year-plus delay in speaking out about the incident and the lack of physical evidence made it difficult to back her claims. She insisted that the actor had intercourse with her twice at a resort. After the grand jury's decision, Grammer stated that he was ready to move on. "I have said from the outset that there was no basis for the allegations," he said in a statement. "I look forward to putting this all behind me."

Additionally, one of Grammer's ex-flames, former ice skater Cerlette Lamme, sued the actor for libel and invasion of privacy in 2001 (via Time). This happened after the actor mentioned Lamme in his autobiography, So Far, in which he wrote that she was needy and lost their dog after getting high.