The Tragic Family Life of Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey_GrammerMost people are lucky enough to never experience having a loved one taken from them as a result of violence. Kelsey Grammer is not one of those people- his father was shot and killed and his sister was raped and brutally murdered.

You know him best as Dr. Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist originally from the hit television series, Cheers. Dr. Crane was a recurring character in seasons 3 and 4 and went on to become a regular in season 5 until the series finale in season 11. The end of Cheers was not the end for Kelsey Grammer, however. He continued to portray Dr. Frasier Crane as the star of the popular television series, Frasier from 1993 – 2004. Although his professional life has been very successful, he has struggled in his personal life and experienced more than his fair share of tragedies.

Kelsey Grammer’s parents were divorced when he was 2 years old and his  father, Frank Grammer, owned a coffee shop and a bar-and-grill called Greer’s Place. His mother brought Kelsey and Karen back to her parents’ house in New Jersey where they were raised by their mother and grandfather. Unfortunately, his grandfather died when Kelsey was 11.

On April 25, 1968, a man named Arthur B. Niles set fire to Frank Grammer’s car outside the St. Thomas home he shared with his second wife, Elizabeth, and their four children (Betty, John, Billy and Stephen). When Frank Grammer went outside, Niles shot him twice. During the trial, Elizabeth Grammer testified that she pulled her husband’s body from in front of Niles’ car because he had threatened to run over him as well. Kelsey Grammer was only 13 years old at the time of his father’s murder.

Niles was found not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity and spent several decades in a psychiatric ward. In 1994, he was assessed to no longer be a threat to society and was released. In November of 2002, a judge issued a restraining order against Niles which prevented him from seeing his son. In March 2003, Niles went back to prison after pleading guilty to threatening to kill that same judge- no longer a threat indeed.

Seven years later, when Kelsey was 20 years old, his younger sister, 18 year old Karen Grammer, was raped by four men and murdered by Freddie Lee Glenn. Glenn, who was a civilian worker at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colorado began his involvement in a killing spree on June 19, 1975 when he, and two soldiers, including Michael Corbett, decided to assault Daniel Van Lone, a Four Seasons Hotel cook who had just gotten off work at the time they grabbed him. They then took him to a secluded area to kill him. Corbett shot him point blank in the head and the trio made off with a whopping 50 cents from the killing.

A little over a week later, Glenn and Corbett met another Fort Carson soldier to sell some pot to him. Corbett had recently been training with bayonets, and instead of making the sale, decided to stab the soldier with a bayonet, supposedly to see how it felt to stab someone.

On June 30, 1975, Karen Grammer was sitting outside the Red Lobster in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she had just finished her shift as a waitress. Glenn, Corbett and two friends had decided to rob the Red Lobster Karen worked at that night but left the restaurant without any money when they came across Karen. They forced her into their car, stopped to rob a convenience store, then drove her to their apartment where they took turns raping her for about four hours. Afterwards, they put a cloth over her head, promising to take her home. They dumped her in a trailer park instead. According to testimony during the trial, Glenn had taken LSD and when he got out of the car, he stabbed Karen in the back, on her hand (presumably from her trying to shield herself), and the neck.  He then drove away with his accomplices, leaving her for dead.

Karen was made of sterner stuff, though, and managed to crawl to the back porch of a nearby home that had a light on. Unfortunately, no one was at home. Detectives describe a scene where Karen had left bloody handprints and fingerprints where she had tried to ring the doorbell. From her fingerprints, she was inches away from the doorbell when she passed out.  Although, given no one was home, ringing it wouldn’t have done her any good, but of course she didn’t know that. She died on that back porch and was not found until the next day. Police did not know who the girl was for about a week until Kelsey Grammer arrived and positively identify her.

In 1976, Glenn was convicted for all three murders and was sentenced to die via the gas chamber. However, in 1978, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the death penalty sentence. Later, in a 2009 parole board hearing statement, Kelsey stated, “She was so smart and good and decent. She wrote poetry … We could laugh for hours together… I was supposed to protect her — I could not. It very nearly destroyed me… When we heard this man might be paroled, the suffering began anew.”  Needless to say, his parole was not approved.  Glenn is eligible again for parole in 2014.

If that wasn’t all bad enough, five years after Karen’s murder, on June 1, 1980, both of Kelsey Grammer’s half brothers died unexpectedly. Stephen and Billy were scuba diving off of St. Thomas at the time. When Billy failed to resurface, Stephen went back in after him but died of a fatal embolism during an improper ascent that followed. Billy’s body was never recovered.

If you liked this article, well hell, what’s wrong with you?  But if you need a pick me up, you might also enjoy these non-alcoholic options:

Also slightly relevant from our resident paramedic writer: Top 5 First Aid Tricks Everyone Should Know

Bonus Facts:

  • Kelsey Grammer’s good friend and the producer of Frasier, David Angell, died in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Angell and his wife, Lynn, were both passengers of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.
  • Kelsey Grammer has been married four times and has five children. His first daughter, Spencer Karen Grammer is named after his sister. His second daughter, Kandace Greer Grammer’s middle name is the same as the name of his father’s bar-and-grill in St. Thomas, Greer’s Place. His only son, Jude Gordon Grammer, is named after his maternal grandfather, Gordon, who helped raise him.
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56 comments

  • I have a whole new level of respect for this guy. Despite these tragedies and trying to find a way to blame someone or God, he decides to dedicate his life to acting in comedies. Entertaining millions of people everyday, worldwide. Amazing guy

  • Wow! His brother on Frasier was named Niles (running over a decade), the person who killed his father had the last name Niles; talk about a constant reminder!

  • I LOVE Kelsey Grammar as an actor and also as a kind person who always says hi back when you see and recognize him. He hangs out a lot at the Malibu Farmer’s Market.
    What I can’t understand is why he keeps marrying strippers. Is he asking for trouble? Why not marry a nice girl like his sister? She probably would be much more appreciative and not be after his money like these “dancers” are.

    • I suspect it may have to do with Kelsey’s character of wanting to help save a woman in vulnerable positions because he could not save his sister.

  • Not just his brother, his son too:

    On Fraiser his brother’s name was Niles, the murderer of his father and his Son’s name was Freddie, the murderer of his sister. It feels like I’ve stumbled upon a conspiracy.

  • Another “coincidence”, his character – Dr Frasier Crane – is a psychiatrist. The guy who murdered his dad was ordered to spend time in a psychiatric ward.

  • I met Kelsey Grammer at a restaurant I worked at in Florida once. He was the most down to earth and nicest celebrity I have ever met and I always wish him the best.

  • Shellan, He was a psychiatrist when he was on Cheers. He is basically playing the same character.
    Briana, I agree. Kelsey is one of the nicest people in Hollywood though I must admit I have met any. I have seen Queen Latifa twice and once saw Don Cheadle walking with his boy on the Santa Monica pier. Kelsey was the only one I said hello too so I don’t know if the others would have replied or not.
    I did see Patrick Stewart in OR one time! He stayed in a little hotel where I stayed with a friend. He was trying to hide his face, but that just made it more obvious. He also came to our school in Venice on “Imagine” Peace day. The girls told him they love him and he answered “I love you too!” What a wonderful man he is!
    I never got a chance to talk to him personally tho.
    I also saw Hawk-eye’s side kick, Mike Ferrell, when he came to our local library to talk about his memoir. I think he got a little upset with me though, as I kept asking questions about the Repugs. He wanted to keep politics out of it, despite all those years on a blatantly anti-war show.
    I think that about covers my experience with famous people, unless you count writers, of course.

    • Well, I lived in California before I spent time in Florida and have seen and met my fair share. The nicest I met besides Kelsey was Pat Boone and meanest was Patrick Wayne, who I actually met as a child in an elevator in the Contemporary resort at Disney World. He treated me horribly like I had no right to be in the same elevator with him and I was just an 11 year old kid. To make matters worse we stayed on the same floor and he watched as I went to my room (as if an 11 year old would stalk a celebrity). He actually frightened me.

      • I worked at Disney. I met a lot of celebrities. I worked at the poly when it first opened. I think the nicest person I ever met that was the star was Joe Flynn ( Captain Binghamton McHales navy) we used to do the luau on the beach and I dropped a whole trash cart of pineapple half’s from the night before on the ground and he stopped and helped me pick them up and put them back in the trashcan. I mean come on how many actors would do that? The meanest I’ve ever met with Jimmy Stewart, total jerk. Arnold Schwarzenegger comes in a close second

  • Kelsey, I am a fan however never knew this story. Maybe I just wasn’t listening until recently. My son was murdered a day before his 24th birthday, December 30, 2012. They have still not found the person that committed this crime. I am currently working with an organization called “Victims Voices Heard” doing presentations in prisons here in Delaware. I talk about my family and our life and what it means to be a victim of a tragic crime. Reading this article really hit home, my husband and I always wanted to protect our kids and we couldn’t do that for David Jr. David has a twin sister and a younger brother. This pain never goes away.

  • Michael Corbett was on guard duty at Ft. Carson the evening Ms. Grammer was abducted, raped and murdered. This can easily be verified by court documents provided by the US Military.

    “On June 30, 1975, Karen Grammer was sitting outside the Red Lobster in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she had just finished her shift as a waitress. Glenn, Corbett and two friends had decided to rob the Red Lobster Karen worked at that night but left the restaurant without any money when they came across Karen.”

  • Love the reruns of Frasier, record them on lifetime n Hallmark everyday. It’s so ironic, because I became familiar with the show recently, after the loss of my mother n law, husband, mother, sister n law and my sister within 28 months. I was experiencing major depression, and my daughter was watching Frasier on lifetime in the living room, and I sat down with her. .I knew the show had existed but during the 90’s, my husband and I were running a family business n raising our kids, not much time for TV shows then. It was the Frasier Crane day episode, I starting laughing until I cried, but tears of happiness. That day I became hooked. From June 2012-October 2014 my life had changed forever, I had stopped living n only existing in this world. Mr. Grammar I saw recently on David Letterman and I want him to know I’m so sorry for his tragedies he had to succumb, and to thank him, the other cast and whoever made this show possible. Yes, my sanity was save by the show Frasier, whom happen to be a psychiatrist. Thanks for the laughter n I have to stop typing now, time for me to watch my DVR, Good Night Seattle !!!

  • I also met Kelsey Grammer at Costco, of all places. He was so friendly and nice to the people who approached him, but his then-wife was not. I also started watching “Frasier” on the Hallmark station, and am just enthralled with the series. It makes me laugh our loud and always elevates my mood. He and David Hyde Pierce are simply hysterical together and the rest of the cast is very funny. What a fabulous show. Such incredible writing and acting.

  • I have been watching tv for 60+ years and “Frasier” is the best show I have ever seen on it.

    • I agree with that totally (best show). I don’t know why I wasn’t familiar with “Frazier” when it was being made. I watch it now all the time on Hulu and never get tired of it. I love it.

  • Arthur B. Niles, according to the above article.

  • Just look into his kind beautiful blue eyes to see the sadness and the sorrow for such a tragic life. I have great respect for him and admire his work. Thank you Kelsey for making us laugh so much, while you cry inside. Such an intelligent show! Marta Australia

  • I love the show, Frazier. I had no idea that Kelsey Grammar courageously faced with so much tragedy. He is one of my heroes.

  • I take my hat off to this man. To have endured such deep personal tragedy, and then to bring a smile to the faces of others, takes some doing.

    I have the entire set of Frasier at home. Watching Frasier is like therapy for me. My wife says that I have a smile on my face the entire time when I’m watching an episode!

    To know that he’s a nice man in person is lovely. May God bless him and his family with every happiness.

  • the writer of the article comes off insensitive and sarcastic for no reason at all other than not having any common sense.

  • and everytime I watch Frasier, I think of Niles, the Brother and Freddie, the son in a different way now…the poor Grammer family….. 🙁 🙁

  • So much tragedy in one person’s life. Truly an amazing man, to brave the world and help others to smile.

  • Id like to know where the information was obtained that Arthur Niles killed his grandfather.

    Id be more willing to acceot this if Niles were not also Fraser’s brother in the sitcom. I have searched high and low for this information because it begs the question why on earth would the lovable fictional character of Niles Crane beear the same name?

  • I listened to his autobiography on audible a few years ago, “So Far”, it was very good, very human, explained alot of what he went through and why his relationships with women are usually rather shallow… afraid of intimacy due to some profound losses early on… very sad… but hopeful.

  • Does anybody know why some Frasier cast members are named after the murderers of father n sister??

  • I don’t know how Kelsey Grammar puts one foot in front of the other…what indescribable tragic life events this poor guy has experienced just makes me wonder how he has been able to not just go on but to achieve the heights of success he has.I have a new respect for him.I can t say I ever really liked his characters but I can say now I appreciate his professionalism and talent.He has climbed upwards when so many others would be a heap on the floor.God bless you Mr Grammar

  • Ok, so, all I did was google Camille Donatacci because my curiosity triggered when I seen her on The Real Houswives reunion show or whatever and my God, somehow, I wound up here (clicking on one link after another). I had no earthly idea about any of this about Kelsey Grammar and then to find out that he named his characters after the guy who murdered his father is so bizarre! Like, we need an explanation on WHY because this is really mind boggling! I have a possible idea as to why, that hasn’t been mentioned yet here in the comment section, but it’s not something I want to say out loud either, because if it’s not correct, then I would feel very badly about it. Anyway, I wish I never read any of this because it depresses me a lot and hopefully I can successfully forget about it when I watch Frazier or any other show or movie that he has been in!

  • For Kelsey Grammer to not only survive but thrive in his career after so many, many brutal tragedies is almost incomprehensible. It takes a special heart and spirit to continue on in comedy of all places. Hearing that he wanted to create Frasier and continue as a psychiatrist as a character must have brought him some comfort. A place to dramatically work through issues.
    As for the naming of the characters Niles & Freddie who were killers of his family, one can only guess. Perhaps it was a way of facing his loss, grief, anger by engaging with the names that if tucked away in his subconscious would haunt him even more? What an incredible talent and even more impressive human being for giving us all the gift of laughter for so many years while he suffered.
    Laughter is indeed the best medicine!
    I watched Cheers and Frasier when they were originally airing but not like I do now. I’ve been battling Chronic Lyme disease since ‘02 and am often bedridden for long stretches of time, in a dark quiet room for days, weeks, months, out of touch with the outside world. The pain vicious, the neuro symptoms countless.
    I was drawn to watch Frasier again and in all, almost embarrassing honesty, Frasier is on every single day and I can’t sleep at night until I hear the opening music and hear the beginning of an episode. The entire cast feel like family to me and I’m sure countless others.
    And I should add I am lucky to already have an amazing husband, children and extended family! My hubbby is now as addicted to Frasier as I and our 3 young adult children feel as if Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce are far away Uncles. John Mahoney, their grandfather and Jane & Penny Aunts.
    They grew up on our bed, playing board games, puzzles, doing homework, having breakfast, lunch and dinner and deep life talks for the last 16 years, Frasier always on in the background or the central focus. All 5 of us quote lines from the show continually, always looking to serve one up at the best possible time for laughter. It has helped my family cope with the burden of my illness and countless other tragedies that have come our way.
    I knew about Kelsey’s sister but not the full extent of what he has lived through in his life. His courage, strength, kindness and innate hilarity helped save our family through hearty laughter and smiles even in our darkest days.
    I truly hope that Kelsey knows what a gift he is to this world, that his bravery to continue on has lifted countless spirits and helped us move forward with more insight into ourselves.
    My gratitude and love of him personally and professionally was always my family’s little secret until this posting.
    Thank you Kelsey. Thank you Dr Crane.
    May your life continue to be filled with laughter, love and happiness. ❤️

  • Mary Ellen Carter

    I am so surprised to read about Kelsey Grammer’s tragic background. He has become my psychiatrist. Whenever I prepare for bed at night, I set up my CPAP, Pull up the covers, and then press my remote to Netflix where the next episode of Frasier appears. I’ve been going to sleep to Frasier episodes for four years. I’m to the point where I can even roll over, listen to the episodes, and visualize everything that’s going on. I laugh through most of it, and then close my eyes and let that soothing voice lull me to sleep.

  • So sad , I lost my wonderful daughter when she was only 31 I never will get over it and I think about her every day. Mr Grammer is a person to be admired .He has been through with more heart ache than any one should endure .

  • Kelsey has been married 4 times and had 7 children and a grandchild.
    He has been arrested for multiple DUI’s and has had substance abuse issues.
    Also he was brought to court for statutory rape with his 15 year old babysitter.
    This guy is NOT a good guy, sure, he’s been through a lot but he isn’t much better than the thugs that has tormented his family.

  • accusation by girl went to grand jury which returned a judgment of no charge,

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