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How Kelsey Grammer Overcame a Series of Horrific Family Tragedies to Bring Back Frasier
Kelsey Grammer old and young

How Kelsey Grammer Overcame a Series of Horrific Family Tragedies to Bring Back Frasier

Kelsey Grammer was one of the most relatable TV figures, thanks to his starring roles in Frasier and Cheers. But his real life story is a string of unimaginable tragedies.

"There have been periods where it seemed like Satan got a foothold..."

Kelsey Grammer can brag about having an illustrious career. His major breakthrough playing Dr. Frasier Crane on NBC’s Cheers was followed by 11 seasons of the wildly successful spin off, Frasier.

And if you are a fan, it looks like a Frasier 2023 reboot is on its way. Instead of Seattle, the place is Boston. And while we will see some new faces, Frasier Crane remains the same, “He’s a little more mature. He’s got a little more wisdom about him. But he’s still a little bit silly and takes certain things more seriously than most people do. But that’s his character.”

Much like his Frasier character, the Emmy Award winning actor has grown, matured, and has a newfound optimism in life.

Charming and with a great sense of humor, Grammer has perfectly portrayed Dr. Krane. But ironically, in real life, he was the one in desperate need of psychiatric help. It’s hard to believe that Kelsey’s true life story consists of more trauma than all of his character’s patients combined.

Grammer is now in a much better place, the TV star managed to overcome a series of unimaginable tragedies and come out the other side with faith intact.

Kelsey Grammer’s Family Tragedies

Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Kran.

It was never easy for Grammer. He lived through violent deaths of close family members, divorces , health bouts that nearly left him for dead and an ongoing struggle with addiction.

When he was only two years old, Grammer's parents divorced. Grammer's mom took him and his little sister to live with her parents in order to start a new life.

But a string of family deaths was about to shake the actor to his core.

Grammer grew close to his grandparents over the years, but soon after his 12th birthday his grandfather passed away from cancer. Before his death, rather ominously, told Grammer their family was cursed.

Only a year after his grandfather's passing, Grammer's father was shot and killed in a home invasion. The killer responsible was found not guilty due to insanity and was eventually sent to a psychiatric facility.

The actor somehow managed to keep it all together, but the grief that would follow took him off rails.

When Grammer was 20, his younger sister, 18, was brutally murdered. On June 30, 1975, Karen (his little sister) was waiting outside the restaurant where she worked when four men robbed the restaurant.

The police report would unveil gruesome details about Karen’s death. Fresh out of highschool, Karen was raped by her kidnappers, repeatedly stabbed, and left to die. She was found the next morning, but without any ID.

"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. It's just part of life. Maybe I learned a little earlier than most, but it's just the way it goes."
Kelsey Grammer, UK's i News

It took the authorities one week to figure out who she was. That’s when they called Grammer to identify the body. Grammer was devastated... “I miss her in my bones. I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her - I could not,” Kelsey wrote on the murderer’s parole board.

To deal with his pain, Grammer chose drugs and alcohol to numb his grief, and therein would begin his decades long struggle with loss and the tight grip of addiction.

Kelsey Grammer's String of Failed Marriages

Kelsey Grammer with beard sitting on a rock in The Space Between
The Space Between / IMDB

As if Grammer didn’t already have enough on his plate, he’s also had his share of toxic relationships.

The actor met his first wife – Doreen Alderman – in 1982. They quickly were married, but for some reason they couldn’t make it work. The two divorced in 1990.

Two years later, Kelsey married an exotic dancer named Leigh-Anne Csuhany and after only months of dating were married. The relationship proved to be toxic with allegations Csuhany was unstable, violent and threatened Grammer with a gun. The two separated only nine months after their marriage.

In 1994, Kelsey met actress Tammi Baliszewski to whom he soon got engaged. While the first year was full of joy, Tammi said the following two years were a nightmare. Grammer’s drinking got out of control and the Baywatch star couldn’t handle it. For a while she poured his alcohol down the sink and replaced it with water, but when she realized that he had no intention to quit, she broke up with him.

Drinking the Pain Away

After his sister's death, thinking that he had no way out, the actor started drinking his pain away, Eventually this got in the way of his studies. Since he began skipping classes, it wasn’t long before Julliard expelled him.

I had a very spiritual youth. Then I had the challenges of a couple of really big tragedies. There was a time when I abandoned the effort to find a reason to be alive.
Kelsey Grammer

Somehow he found the strength to focus on his acting career. Grammer moved to San Diego where he landed a three-year internship with the Old Globe Theatre. Things were looking pretty good as the actor began to find success. Little did he know that tragedy was about to strike again.

Stephan and Billy, Kelsey’s half brothers, were scuba diving off the coast of St. Thomas when something went wrong. Nobody knows exactly what happened to Billy, but it appears that Stephan suffered a brain embolism from surfacing too quickly. Billy's was never found, rescue teams assumed he was eventually eaten by a shark.

Making It Big Against All Odds

With back to back tragedies, Kelsey poured his heart and soul into his acting career. Since his financial situation wasn't too good either, the actor had to work as a nightman at a hotel.

After a stint at the Guthrie Theater, Kelsey finally made it to Broadway in 1981. He was cast as Othello, but it wasn’t until 1984 that Grammer got the big break he deserved.

He first appeared as Dr. Frasier Crane in the sitcom Cheers. His talent blew everyone away and what was supposed to be a six-episode job, turned into a full-time position.

In September 1993, Grammer was awarded a spinoff sitcom, Frasier, which later became one of the most successful sitcoms in TV history. He directed more than 30 episodes and also sang the closing theme song, "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs."

By 2001, the actor was making more than $700,000 and Frasier became a huge success. The sitcom received several Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.

It was hard, but it was worth it! Today, the actor smiles when he’s asked about the time when he was working two jobs to help ends meet. In a 2019 interview he says, “I could sneak behind a certain bush and cover myself with a newspaper, and I was fine”.

How Kelsey Grammer Pulled Himself Together Through the Darkness

Kelsey Grammer in suit and tie during a meeting.
Proven Innocent/IMDB

While he never gave up on his acting career, it wasn’t until 1996 that Grammer addressed his addiction. After crashing his car while driving drunk, Kelsey checked himself into the Betty Ford Center to finally get help for his substance abuse problem.

In a 2012 interview with Oprah, Kelsey said that his alcoholism stemmed from the depression he experienced following his sister’s death. “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 be, and maybe I do have a self-destructive part of me.”

What is amazing about Grammer, while fighting his inner demons, he would simply snap into character. However, after the scene was over, he “would ooze back into Kelsey—glazed-over eyes, half asleep, going through whatever he was going through.”

In 2008, the actor had a near-death experience. His agent said that it was a minor heart attack, but it was enough for Grammer to realize that he had to confront the tragedies that affected his life, not only his addiction. So he started therapy.

Kelsey Grammer Refuses to Feel Sorry for Himself

Kelsey Grammer on the Conan talk show.
Conan (2010) / IMDB

Kelsey Grammer’s life story is simply insane, but he refuses to feel sorry for himself.

I don’t complain about my life, It was an extraordinary challenge a lot of the time, and there’s been a lot of pain and a lot of great joy. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it except to possibly bring back some people I care about.
Kelsey Grammer for Page Six

The Frasier star has finally found peace with his fourth wife, Kayte Walsh, a British flight attendant. He is the proud father of 7 children and he couldn’t be more grateful for the gifts that life has given him.

While Grammer's story is heartbreaking, his resilience is awe-inspiring.

"I usually have to repeat a lesson or two — maybe three times!"

Life will hit you in unexpected ways, but it can also give you many blessings. Lessons are rarely learned the first time around. In all of the tragedy, the struggles and sadness, Grammer was able to finally able to find “great peace” through therapy, family and growth.

As Kelsey Grammer says, “You know, as corny as it sounds, a day at a time. You have to keep your chin up, not give in.”


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