Creating a sitcom that’s as clever as it is laugh-out-loud funny is tricky, and it’s probably never been accomplished as seamlessly as Frasier. A storyline based around a radio psychiatrist might not seem like an obvious place for comedy gold to form — but that’s why its writers deserve great praise. Yet despite its popularity, there are a few secrets about the show that slipped under the radar. With the Frasier reboot promising to make us laugh even harder, it's about time we learned the truth about Frasier Crane and how his wacky show came to be.
1. Frasier wasn't actually filmed in Seattle
Like most sitcoms, the city where the characters have their misadventures in Frasier is integral to the plot. But even though the city of Seattle is featured prominently in the opening credits and is the focal point of many of the storylines, it isn’t actually where the show was filmed. In fact, most filming was done on set in Los Angeles, California, with just one episode – “The 1000th Show” – shot in the famous city.
And the show definitely takes advantage of filming on location during that episode. Not only do Frasier and Niles get in the middle of a fish-throwing competition at Pike Place Market, but they all see the Space Needle and Monorail Station.
2. Eddie was played by a dog named Moose
Any fan of the show knows that the way to Eddie’s heart is through his stomach. And it turns out that Moose, who played the mischievous Eddie, is no different. Whenever there was a scene requirement for the lovable canine to lick the face of Martin Crane, played by John Mahoney, the crew would dab the actor's face with sardine oil. Lovely!
And if they had to film a scene where Eddie licks someone's face, the actor would have to put liver pâté behind their ears. Ah, the things actors do to get the perfect shot.
3. Niles almost didn't exist
Fans know just how crucial a role Frasier’s brother Niles played in the show, but what they might not know is that the character was never originally written into the show. In fact, the casting director saw such a startling similarity between David Hyde Pierce (Niles) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) that he decided to create the character of Niles just for him.
And so, the relatively unknown actor came forward to play the role of Niles. The rest is comedy history, and the actor has four Emmy Awards to show for it!
4. Eddie may have received the most fan mail
No, the most popular character on Frasier may not have been the pretentious radio personality himself, but his four-legged nemesis. You might be surprised to learn that Eddie received more fan mail than any of his human cast-mates on the show, but that’s exactly what John Mahoney said in an interview.
The lovable Jack Russell terrier not only had the privilege of gracing many magazine covers, but he also had adoring fans sending their praises through the mail. "I know it's very popular for [the press] to say he gets more [fan mail] than I do," Grammer once told The Washington Post. Is that jealousy we hear?
5. How they pulled off all of those celebrity cameos
Frasier’s radio show on KACL produced a plethora of classic moments, but did you know that a lot of those who call in for the good doctor’s help are real-life celebrities? The likes of Elijah Wood, Helen Mirren, Ben Stiller, and Kevin Bacon provided voice cameos, among many, many others. Some of the voices, like Mel Brooks and John Lithgow, were pretty recognizable, but others? Not so much!
According to Screen Rant, the show was able to get so many celebrity cameos because of how simple the voice cameos were to obtain. Apparently, most of the celebs would simply record their lines over the phone.
6. Move over, Seinfeld
The 1990s were something of a golden era in terms of great sitcoms. Indeed, two titans came into direct contact, with Frasier being moved to a time slot that was home to Seinfeld for years. And, cleverly, Frasier’s writers didn’t ignore this time slot change. Instead, they weaved it into the opening scene of the sixth season, with Frasier referencing it in a TV show audition.
He says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say how honored I am to be taking over this slot. Obviously, I have some rather big shoes to fill – my predecessor here was much beloved.”
7. Cheers reunions
Being the spin-off of a show as popular as Cheers comes with a lot of responsibility. Somehow, though, Frasier’s creators still managed to forge their own path while simultaneously embracing Frasier’s heritage. Indeed, his past comes back to please – and haunt – him multiple times over the spin-off's run, with the likes of Cheers favorites Cliff, Diane, Lilith, Norm, and many more turning up in episodes.
Oh, and “The Show Where Woody Shows Up” is pure comedy gold. It ties a perfect bow on the unlikely friendship between Cheers' fun-loving bartender Woody, played by Woody Harrelson, and the serious Frasier.
8. Four actors played one character
Frasier’s only son, Frederick, appears in four different guises throughout the years. He first appeared in Cheers as a baby and was played by two twins. In Frasier, he was then played by Luke Tarsitano before, finally, being portrayed by Trevor Einhorn for the rest of the show's run. And after all of those radical actor changes, it’s perhaps little wonder that Freddie turned goth towards the end.
In the reboot, the 36-year-old Frederick is played by actor Jack Cutmore-Scott. Antics are sure to ensure between the father and son, especially since they live in the same city: Boston.
9. What did Maris really look like?
One of the longest-running jokes throughout the show’s 11-season run is Niles’ mysterious wife, Maris. The elusive eccentric is never seen, only described in increasingly grotesque ways. And while she was actually meant to appear in the show, the writers found more humor in simply letting the cast describe her instead. Plus, few actresses could live up to a description like, “She’s very exotic, only eats every other day, and she’s so white, she’s almost blue!”
Over the course of the show, we learn a few, um, distinguishing characteristics about Maris: she's "the queerest little creature," as one character says, and she also has webbed fingers. In another episode, Martin, Frasier, and Roz mistake Maris for a moving hat rack.
10. How the series came full-circle
Any devoted fan of the show will tell you how heart-wrenching the series finale is. As Frasier moves on to greener pastures and a new job, he has to say goodbye to those who mean the most to him. For his dad, Martin, though, a thank you was all that needed to be said.
What’s interesting about this is that the pilot episode was actually based around Frasier not hearing those two simple words from his father. It was a great way to bring the show full circle, then, as well as provide some closure.
11. A familiar delivery man
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed this, but it’s subtle nonetheless: the delivery guy who brings Martin’s beloved chair in during the pilot is the same person who wheels it out again in the series finale. In fact, he’s the only cast member outside of the main group that had a part in both the pilot and the final episode. Well, one of the main cast members may have been replaced by the finale, but it's hard to tell...
You see, by the time Frasier entered its eighth season, the show had already been on air for the same number of years. Moose, who played Eddie the dog, was getting old, so he was often replaced with his son, Enzo.
12. No expense spared
Frasier's lavish home almost became a character itself, mainly because of how accurately it reflected its owner. Martin’s battered La-Z-Boy aside, the apartment was filled with expensive ornaments and ornate materials. Three words that would perfectly describe the apartment? Black, white, and beige. It's no surprise, then, that it is estimated that costs for the furnishing were in excess of half a million dollars. The Crane brothers would surely approve!
There are a few touches here and there that really tie a bow on Frasier's pretentious personality, such as the tribal masks on the dresser (where did he get those?) to the fancy-looking telescope near the floor-to-ceiling window.
13. Creative differences
Kelsey Grammer is someone who takes his craft seriously, which could explain his eccentric methods (and why he's so suited to playing a character like Frasier Crane). During Frasier, he used a technique he dubbed “requisite disrespect,” which involved only rehearsing his scenes once and leaving it to the last minute to memorize lines. Sounds pretty disrespectful, all right!
According to the actor, this unusual method helped to give his screen time some spontaneity. But while the core group of actors became accustomed to it, it's believed that special guests weren't as quick to get on board.
14. Cheers vs. Cafe Nervosa
While the show often embraced Cheers' impact — Frasier wouldn't exist without it! — that doesn’t mean that the producers wanted to evoke the classic sitcom all the time. They were so adamant about turning over a new leaf in Frasier that they paid attention to every little detail inside the coffee shop Cafe Nervosa, where the characters spend much of their time.
Apparently, even stools were banned from the coffee shop in case the set looked too similar to the bar from the 1980s classic. The characters also don't buddy up with the baristas the way Frasier did with Sam and Woody in Cheers.
15. Daphne’s “binge eating” explained
Some may remember the odd period in the seventh season when the normally thin Daphne developed a habit of binge eating. It was definitely an odd pivot for a show that usually dealt with high-brow over low-brow humor. The storyline wasn't enthusiastically received by some fans, who thought that explaining away the actress's weight gain with a binge eating disorder wasn't exactly in good taste.
In reality, Jane Leeves, who played Daphne, was actually pregnant, and the binge-eating storyline was the show's way of "hiding" her not-so-subtle baby bump. When the character is back to normal at the beginning of the next season, the show nods to her real-life pregnancy by saying she lost "9 pounds, 12 ounces."
16. Rumors of Martin’s death...
In his autobiography, Kelsey Grammer points out a glaring error in the fictional history of Frasier Crane. Before the Frasier spin-off was created, the irritable Crane made clear in Cheers that he didn’t have a sibling and that his father was dead. Of course, fast forward a few years, and voilà – Martin and Niles are very much alive. Hilariously, Martin mentions this very fact on a few occasions when he’s arguing with Frasier.
And in the episode of Frasier when Sam shows up and meets Martin, he fully calls Frasier out for lying. Frasier's explanation? He and Martin weren't on speaking terms when Frasier told Sam and the rest of the Cheers crew that his father was dead.
17. The show once had a completely different premise
Ready to move on with his career and away from the Frasier character, Kelsey Grammer and the writers put forth a rather different idea for a show after Cheers had concluded. It was based around a media mogul who was bedridden and tended to by a nurse. It wasn’t given the green light by Paramount, however, probably due to its somber nature. So, interestingly, the original ideas had nothing to do with Frasier.
Sorry, doc! The producers still fought to have Frasier set as far away from Boston as possible so that the studio wouldn't force a Cheers reunion during Frasier's first season. This is why the series takes place in Seattle.
18. The episode without Frasier
One episode from the show that feels oddly out of place is the season four episode “Head Game.” It sees Niles take over his brother’s radio show, a storyline that was written after Kelsey Grammer made it clear that he wasn’t available to shoot. Why, you ask? The seasoned performer was actually being treated for substance abuse issues at the time, and he knew he needed to prioritize his well-being over the show's demanding schedule.
Thankfully, David Hyde Pierce and the rest of the talented cast were more than happy to keep the show afloat while Grammer was away.
19. Two decades of cranium-splitting hilarity
One of the biggest laughs in the series happened when one cast-mate hit a real-life fact on the head. Frasier’s first wife, Nanette, said to him, “Do you know what it’s like to play the same character for 20 years?” Of course, Kelsey Grammer knew this all too well, as his portrayal of the good doctor was approaching its 20-year anniversary. And what a 20 years it was!
Grammer first brought Dr. Frasier Crane to life in Cheers and then later in Frasier, obviously. But he also appeared as the character in Wings, which was created by the same people who made the other two sitcoms.
20. Grammer’s pre-Frasier life was full of tragedy
Grammer's life was unconventional even before Frasier, though. The actor has been through terrible things – more than anyone should ever have to face. After his parents divorced, Grammer and his mother moved to New Jersey to be closer to his grandparents. It was there Grammer watched his grandfather die of cancer. Things got worse in 1968 when his father was tragically murdered during a break-in.
The man who killed Grammer's father ended up being sent to a mental health hospital. In 1975, tragedy struck again when Grammer's sister, Karen, was kidnapped and killed at the age of 18.
21. Tragedies early on
Grammer – who was only 20 at the time of his sister's death – had to identify Karen’s body and tell their mom what had happened. It haunted him for the rest of his life. He once wrote, "I was supposed to protect her — I could not. I have never gotten over it."
He continued, "I was supposed to save her. I could not. It very nearly destroyed me." To add insult to injury, Grammer's half-siblings Steven and Billy died while scuba diving in 1980. Billy’s remains were never found.
22. 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.
Gilpen explained, “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.
23. David Hyde Pierce was closeted throughout the show
David Hyde Pierce played Dr. Niles Crane, who has a long-held obsession with Daphne. Yet in real life, Pierce is 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. 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."
24. John Mahoney disliked an aspect of the show
John Mahoney played Martin, the father of Frasier and Niles. But just before the show reached its end, Maloney thought that the whole "low-maintenance father, high-maintenance sons" schtick 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... 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.”
25. 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. In 2004, Frasier producer and co-creator David Lee spoke to the Sun Sentinel about Alley's reaction to the show.
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 was a Scientologist.
26. 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 much less. David Hyde Pierce, in comparison, reportedly got around $750,000, with Jane Leeves picking up a “mere” $400,000. 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.’”
27. 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's womanizing ways were often played for laughs on the show — but Butler's real-life identity was much different. In 1994, while Frasier was still in its youth, Butler came out publicly with a theater piece titled The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me.
Just after his coming out, Butler did an interview with the LA Times and said he loved playing a “maniacally heterosexual” person in 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.”
28. 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. And in 2004, Leeves opened up about how upsetting the experience was.
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.”
29. 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 the neurotic psychologist – a Screen Actors Guild award and an Emmy, no less – Pierce still disliked Niles’ personality. He even called him "finicky." Pierce went on to say, "Now when I think about the character, it’s a little upsetting."
"That [the producers] 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."
30. 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. 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 to them that, no, her baby bump wasn't real. 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.
31. Kelsey Grammer and Shelley Long had to make up
Back when Cheers was first kicking off, nobody expected that Grammer’s Frasier Crane would become so popular a character that 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. And the more annoyed she was, the better her performance!
But in 1996, Long was asked to make a cameo as Diane on Fraiser, and 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.”
32. 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.”
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.
33. 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.”
In 2018 director James Burrows told Yahoo! Entertainment, “[Roz] 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.
34. 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. 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.
35. Grammer has been married four times
Grammer has had no less than four wives, and he has kids with several different women. His first spouse was dancer Doreen Alderman, with whom he had one daughter. After that, he had another child with stylist Barrie Buckner, but he didn’t marry her. Then, he moved on to Leigh-Anne Csuhany. 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.
36. 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 his age. 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.
37. 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, so they 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.
38. 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.” 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.” Four years later, the Frasier reboot found a home on Paramount+ and CBS.