After a publicly tumultuous past few years, life seems to be good for Kelsey Grammer: He welcomed a baby girl with wife Katye Walsh nearly a year ago and the family is often pictured out together enjoying themselves.
Even though Kelsey now seems to be in a joyful place, he will always carry the burden of painful memories. Aside from his well-documented drug abuse, relationship problems and personal scandals, Kelsey also had the misfortune of being affected by murder on two separate occasions.
Kelsey was born to Sally and Frank Allen Grammer, Jr. in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Following his parents’ divorce when he was two years old, Kelsey and his sister, Karen, went to live with their mother and grandfather in the states.
It’s unclear how much Kelsey kept in touch with his father. Unfortunately, even if their relationship was strained, they never had a chance to reconcile. On April 25, 1968, Frank was at home with his second wife and their four children when a man named Arthur B. Niles set fire to the family car. When Frank went outside to chase off the criminal, Niles shot him twice, killing him. According to a 1993 People article, the assailant was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
(Side note: Frank’s operated a bar and grill called “Greer’s Place.” Kelsey has a daughter named Greer Grammer, who currently stars in Awkward, but she claims to be named after actress Greer Garson.)
Seven years later, Kelsey was “very nearly destroyed” by another tragic murder.
^Kelsey and Karen in 1974, the year before her death.
The tragic sequence of events began on June 30, 1975, when Kelsey’s sister Karen was sitting outside a Colorado Red Lobster. Spotted by three failed robbers who feared she could identify them, Karen was forced into their car. The men, who were later tied to a string of murders, took Karen to an apartment where she was raped. According to police records, the men moved Karen to an alley, where one slit her throat. After the criminals fled, Karen managed to crawl to a nearby trailer park before dying.
The men were all arrested and charged in connection to the murder; ringleader Freddie Glenn was sentenced to death, but the term was later commuted to life.
Kelsey, who was a 20-year-old Juilliard flunk, was tasked with claiming his sister’s body and bringing her home for burial. Since then, the Frasier star hasn’t often spoken about his sister, but has admitted to never fully recovering from her brutal murder.
When Glenn was made eligible for release in 2009, Kelsey sent a statement to the court: “He must never take a single breath as a free man… This is a butcher. This is a monster… I can never accept the notion that he can pay for the nightmare with anything less than his life.”
Glenn’s parole was denied, but he will be eligible again in 2014.
(Another side note: Kelsey’s oldest daughter, Greek star Spencer Karen Grammer, was definitely named after his sister.)
Karen’s death was the greatest tragedy in the trained Shakespearean actor’s life. Sadly, the Grammer family suffered another blow a few years later when Kelsey’s twin half-brothers died while scuba diving off the coast of the Virgin Islands.
Although many of Kelsey’s troubles since then have been self-made, learning about his past does make him a bit more sympathetic of a character.