18 Surprising Facts About Frasier
The character of psychiatrist Frasier Crane was added to Cheers during the series’s third season as a temporary release for some of the Sam and Diane relationship tension. Dr. Crane was only supposed to be around for a few episodes, but thanks to a combination of stellar writing and Kelsey Grammer’s memorable performance, Frasier became a series regular by Cheers's fifth season.
The good doctor was so popular, in fact, that he was eventually spun off into his own series, which premiered in 1993 and lasted an amazing 11 years. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the beloved series's finale, which aired on May 13, 2004, here are some fun behind-the-scenes facts for all you Frasier aficionados.
1. The original idea for Frasier had nothing to do with Frasier Crane.
Kelsey Grammer and the creative team behind Frasier (David Lee, David Angell, and Peter Casey) originally thought that any use of the Dr. Crane character would encourage unfair comparisons to Cheers, so their initial ideas involved Grammer playing a paralyzed media mogul cared for by a street-smart nurse in a Manhattan penthouse. Paramount hated the idea and convinced all concerned that it would be unwise not to capitalize on the built-in Cheers audience.
2. Frasier's creators wanted to set the show as far away from Boston as possible.
Once it was agreed that Grammer would continue as Dr. Crane, the creators still wanted to distance themselves from Boston and the whole "crossover syndrome." They knew that the network would insist on having former Cheers characters make guest appearances if the show was set anywhere in Massachusetts, so they moved Frasier across the country to Seattle. The gourmet coffee scene was just taking root in that area, which provided a central meeting place for the characters. The creators didn't want Frasier Crane to work in private practice, since that had already been done on The Bob Newhart Show. Grammer's resonant voice seemed natural for radio, so the concept of a call-in psychiatry show seemed natural.
3. Lisa Kudrow could have played Roz Doyle.
Future Friends star Lisa Kudrow originally won the role of Frasier’s producer, Roz Doyle. But during the third day of rehearsals prior to filming the pilot, the producers realized that while Kudrow was certainly funny enough, she just wasn’t forceful enough to match Grammer when he went all out. They needed a female “alpha dog” to play the part, so Kudrow was out and second choice Peri Gilpin was in. The character was named after Roz Doyle, one of the producers of Wings who died of breast cancer in 1991 at age 49.
4. Rosie Perez was almost Daphne.
Rosie Perez came very close to playing psychic home health care worker Daphne Moon. Grammer was pushing for the character to be a Latina, while the producers had their eye on Jane Leeves. Grammer’s main objection to the British Leeves was that the show might too closely resemble Nanny and the Professor, a warm and fuzzy family sitcom of the 1970s that starred Juliet Mills as an English nanny with psychic abilities. Grammer agreed to Leeves as the choice when his initial table reading with the actress went exceptionally well.
5. Kelsey Grammer sang the show's theme song.
Composer Bruce Miller was given the challenging assignment of writing a theme song for the series that didn’t specifically mention psychiatry, radio, or the name “Frasier.” Lyricist Darryl Phinnesse came up with the cryptic phrase “tossed salad and scrambled eggs” as a metaphor for the “mixed up” patients that Dr. Crane saw regularly. Miller originally envisioned Mel Tormé singing the theme over the closing credits, but the producers preferred to employ Grammer’s golden throat.
6. Furnishing Frasier's apartment was an expensive task.
“So what do you think of what I’ve done with the place?” Frasier asked his father, Martin, in the pilot episode. “You know, every item here was carefully selected. The lamp by Corbu, this chair by Eames, and this couch is an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.” The show’s set designers spent almost $500,000 to give Frasier’s apartment its “eclectic” look. The Coco Chanel replica sofa was covered with 24 yards of Italian suede for an estimated cost of about $15,000. The Eames chair was rented, but the Pastoe curved sideboard was purchased for $3200 and the Wassily chair had a $1395 price tag.
Even Martin’s eyesore of a recliner was also on the pricey side, since the prop department couldn’t find an appropriately ugly chair at any second-hand store. The chair was eventually covered with tape and covered with fabric purchased from an exclusive shop that specialized in deliberately tacky 1970s-era textiles.
7. The first cut of the pilot was six minutes too long.
After seven passes, the pilot episode still came in 60 seconds longer than it should have been and the creative team decided they couldn’t cut any more. NBC agreed and said they would find the extra time—not by cutting a commercial, but by taking 15 seconds from the other four shows that would air that night.
8. Jane Leeves worked with a dialogue coach.
Jane Leeves grew up just north of London, but since her character was from Manchester she used an affected Mancunian accent (which received a lot of criticism from fans when Frasier aired in the UK). Leeves worked with a voice coach to ensure that her accent would be understood by American viewers. John Mahoney, who passed away in 2018, grew up in Manchester but emigrated to the U.S. when he was 19 years old. He concentrated on losing his accent shortly after settling in Illinois so that he would “blend in.”
9. The cast member who received the most fan mail isn't the one you might expect.
When Frasier first started topping the Nielsen ratings every week, which cast member received the most fan mail? Eddie the dog. Leeves once wryly observed that when Entertainment Weekly used Frasier as a lead story in 1993, Eddie was the only cast member to appear on the cover. Eddie was portrayed by a Jack Russell Terrier named Moose, who'd originally been adopted by a family that wasn't aware of the breed's rambunctious nature. Moose had relentless energy—he dug holes in the backyard, chased anything in his path, chewed furniture, and even climbed trees to escape his enclosure. His family gave him up to a rescue organization, which is where professional trainer Mathilde de Cagny discovered him.
De Cagny decided he would be a good working dog because of his boundless energy and desire to always be doing something. Moose turned out to be an apt pupil, and learned to follow commands immediately. During the doggie auditions for the show, the producers were looking for a pooch that could stare endlessly at Kelsey Grammer (a running joke on the series), and Moose performed flawlessly, staring at Mathilde's outstretched index finger offstage until he was "released."
10. When Moose retired, his son took over the role.
Moose retired at the age of 10 (after the end of season 7) and his son Enzo took over the role of Eddie. Moose had been bred with the idea of achieving a look-alike replacement when it became obvious that Frasier would have a long run. Enzo had two siblings, a sister named Miko who was too small to play Eddie, and Moosie, who had noticeably different markings. Peri Gilpin, who played Roz, fell in love with Moosie and adopted him. Both Moose and Moosie have since passed away.
11. The Frasier writers sometimes worked subtle homages to Cheers into the scripts.
One famous example was the recreation of a scene where Sam and Diane were embroiled in a vicious argument that almost ended up in fisticuffs but instead resulted in a passionate embrace. Of course, when Frasier used the same tactic during a shouting match with financial analyst Julia Wilcox, he ended up being accused of sexual harassment.
12. Most of the Cheers cast made guest appearances on the show.
Most of the main Boston tavern regulars made appearances on Frasier. Lilith, logically, visited the most since she was Frasier’s ex and mom to their son, Frederick. Sam, Diane, and Woody all found themselves in Seattle for varying reasons, and a business trip to Boston in season 9 enabled the Crane family to see the rest of the Cheers gang in one fell swoop. Noticeably absent, however, was Rebecca Howe, played by Kirstie Alley. Alley had contacted co-creator David Lee when Frasier was in the planning stages and informed him that as a Scientologist she did not believe in psychiatry and as a result would not be able to make an appearance on the series. Lee's responded simply, “I don’t recall asking.”
13. The episode where Niles co-hosted his brother's show was rewritten when Grammer went to rehab.
On the evening of September 21, 1996, Kelsey Grammer flipped his Dodge Viper (a gift from NBC) not far from his driveway in Agoura Hills, California. He wasn’t severely injured, but the resulting DUI arrest spurred him to check in at the Betty Ford Clinic. Frasier was on hiatus for the following three weeks due to the Major League Baseball playoffs, and the episode 4.05 (“Head Games”) was quickly rewritten to feature Niles hosting his brother’s radio program while Frasier was away at a convention. Grammer filmed his bit for the intro at a later date and it was tacked on to the show before broadcast.
14. The character of Niles was written specifically for David Hyde Pierce.
There wasn’t any particular plan in place to give Frasier a brother until the assistant casting director approached the creators with a photo of David Hyde Pierce in hand and asked, “Doesn’t he look like Kelsey did 10 years ago?” Startled by the physical resemblance, the creative team dug up some tapes of a short-lived Norman Lear-produced political sitcom called The Powers That Be, on which Pierce portrayed a shy, suicidal Congressman. A meeting was arranged with the actor and he was offered the newly created role of Niles Crane after a brief interview.
15. The writers explained away Jane Leeves's pregnancy in an interesting way.
Leeves was expecting in real life during season 7, and her burgeoning baby bump was explained on the show as weight gain from Daphne’s sudden compulsive overeating as a method of dealing with her relationship with Niles. She was sent away to a spa for a few episodes and returned svelte (after daughter Isabella was born).
Roz’s pregnancy in season 5, however, was strictly a plot device—an attempt by the writers to give the character a story arc of her own. Gilpin wasn’t pregnant, and had to do a lot of explaining to friends and family members who thought she’d neglected to tell them about her impending motherhood. Eventually, Gilpin and the producers realized that Roz’s pregnancy storyline was a bit of a misstep, and her baby remained mostly behind the scenes (in part because Grammer didn’t want the hassle of the tightly restricted work schedule of child actors).
16. Even though he was retired, Moose had one last curtain call.
Moose was 14 when Frasier came to an end. The dog's fur had turned snow white and he was almost completely deaf, but his trainer carried him out onstage after the final episode taped so that the pooch could take his bows with the rest of the cast. David Hyde Pierce commented that it was one of the most moving moments of the evening, watching Moose recognize and react to the applause one last time.
17. Kelsey Grammer played Frasier Crane for a very, very long time.
Counting the time he spent on Cheers, Kelsey Grammer played the character of Frasier Crane in prime time for 20 consecutive years, a record TV-land hadn’t seen since James Arness played Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke for the same length of time.
18. Grammer is the first actor to score Emmy nominations for playing the same character on three different series.
Cheers and Frasier are obvious, but Frasier Crane also made an Emmy-nominated guest appearance on Wings.