Creating a sitcom that’s as clever as it is laugh-out-loud funny is tricky. Indeed, it’s probably never quite been done in the same seamless manner as that of comedy classic Frasier. And while a storyline based around a radio psychiatrist might not seem like an obvious place for comedy gold to form, that’s where its writers deserve great praise. In fact, they managed to create a show that’s as refined as the Merlot Frasier sips on and as elegant as the tailor-made suits he wears.
However, despite its popularity, there are a few secrets about the show that slipped under the radar somewhat. Here, for example, are 20 facts about Frasier that even fanatical fans might not know.
20. Good evening… Los Angeles?
Despite featuring prominently in the opening credits, being the focal point of many of the storylines and coming alive almost as another character on the show, Seattle, Washington, isn’t actually where the show was put together. In fact, most filming was done on set in Los Angeles, California, with just one episode – “The 1000th Show” – shot in the famous city.
19. Dog treat
Any fan of the show knows that the way to Eddie’s heart is through his stomach. And it turns out that that Moose, who played 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 put some liver pate behind Mahoney’s ears.
18. A 9/11 connection
September 11, 2001 will forever go down as one of the darkest days in America’s history. And it was a particularly dark one for the cast and crew of Frasier after it came to light that creator and producer of the show David Angell had been on American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.
17. Niles gotta have it!
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 put the relatively unknown actor forward to play the role of Niles. And the rest is comedic history.
16. Puppy love
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 has said in an interview. Seems that the lovable Jack Russell terrier not only had the privilege of gracing many magazine covers, but that he also had adoring fans sending their praises through mail.
15. Celebrity phone-ins
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, for example, provided voice cameos.
14. Move over, Seinfeld
The 1990s were something of a golden era in terms of producing 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 the fact. 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.”
13. 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, 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.
12. 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. And after all of those radical actor changes, it’s perhaps little wonder that Freddie turned goth towards the end.
11. Maris was due to show her face
One of the longest-running jokes throughout the show’s 11-season run is Niles’ wife Maris. The elusive eccentric is never seen, only described in many different 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!”
10. Thanks for the memories
Any devoted fan of the show will tell you how heart-wrenching the series finale is. As Frasier moves onto 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.
9. First to last
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.
8. No expense spared
The lavish home of Frasier 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. In fact, it is estimated that costs for the furnishing were in excess of half a million dollars. The Crane brothers, then, would surely approve.
7. Creative differences
Kelsey Grammer is someone who takes his craft seriously – which could explain his eccentric methods. In particular, 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. According to the actor, it helped to give his screen time some spontaneity. But while the core group of actors became accustomed to it, special guests were not fans of it.
6. Are you sitting comfortably?
While the show often embraced the impact Cheers had on it, that doesn’t mean that the producers wanted to evoke it all the time. This goes for the appearance of the coffee shop Cafe Nervosa, where even stools were banned in case the set looked too similar to the bar from the 1980s classic.
5. Daphne’s “binge eating” explained
Some may remember the odd period on the seventh season where Daphne developed a habit of binge eating. This was in fact to cover up the fact that Jane Leeves, who played Daphne, was actually pregnant.
4. 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, in Cheers the irritable Crane made clear that he didn’t have a sibling and that his father was dead. Of course, fast forward a few years and voila – Martin and Niles are very much alive. Hilariously, Martin mentions this very fact on a few occasions when he’s arguing with Frasier.
3. It could have been so different
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!
2. Filling in for Frasier
One episode from the show that feels oddly out of place is the season four episode “Head Game.” It saw Niles take over his brother’s radio show – a storyline that was written in after Kelsey Grammer made clear that he wasn’t available to shoot. Why, you ask? The seasoned performer was actually being treated for substance abuse issues.
1. 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.
And Frasier isn’t the only well-loved sitcom with its fair share of little-known secrets. Travel back to the mid-‘80s, and it was NBC’s The Golden Girls that dominated our screens. While you might be familiar with the famous Miami foursome Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia, these behind-the-scenes secrets may just surprise you. From casting changes to behind-the-scenes squabbles, here are 20 facts about the hit ’80s comedy that show how things didn’t run quite so smoothly when the cameras stopped rolling.
20. Bea Arthur wasn’t the first choice to play Dorothy
Bea Arthur has become so synonymous with divorced grandmother Dorothy Zbornak that it’s difficult to think of anyone else inhabiting the role. But creator Susan Harris initially had Lee Grant in mind, as she’d worked with her on the brief comedy series Fay. Grant, however, turned down the part because of the character’s age – and the rest is history.
19. NBC were reluctant to cast Arthur
She might not have been first choice to play Dorothy, then, but Arthur was actually the inspiration for the character. Indeed, Harris and the actress had collaborated already on a number of episodes of ’70s sitcom Maude. But Arthur wasn’t considered to have been overly endearing to audiences, and so NBC head Brandon Tartikoff had major reservations about casting her in such a key role.
18. Estelle Getty suffered from severe stage fright
Years after the show finished, Estelle Getty admitted that she had been intimidated by her three more experienced co-stars. And that perhaps explains why she suffered from a severe case of stage fright with each episode’s recording. In fact, according to co-star Rue McClanahan, the star would dread each Friday taping from the moment they started dress rehearsals and would sometimes clam up completely on camera.
17. Getty was also scared of death
But stage fright wasn’t the only phobia that Getty had. The actress was reportedly also scared of anything to do with death – a subject, unfortunately, she had to deal with regularly on the hit show. Getty was also the first main cast member to die, passing away in 2008 just before she turned 85.
16. The show originally had a different title
The Golden Girls is such an obvious name for the show that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t the first on the drawing board. However, the sitcom arrived just a year after Don Johnson’s flashy cop show Miami Vice debuted on our screens, and so producers initially toyed with the idea of naming it “Miami Nice.”
15. There was a reason for the seating arrangement
Ever wondered why the kitchen table only ever had room for three of the Golden Girls at any one time? Well, producers were making sure none of the actresses were facing away from the camera, which is why you’ll always see one either standing up or sitting on a high stool. Arthur’s height, however, ensured she was always guaranteed the center seat.
14. Arthur wasn’t fond of Leslie Nielsen
Leslie Nielsen became one of the show’s most famous guest stars in its very final episode when he played Lucas, an uncle of Blanche who whisks Dorothy away to Atlanta for a happy-ever-after ending. However, Arthur certainly wasn’t as enamored with Nielsen off screen as she was on it, even reportedly once calling the Naked Gun icon “idiotic.”
13. The cast didn’t always get along
And Nielsen wasn’t the only cast member to feel the wrath of Arthur’s sharp tongue. According to McClanahan, Arthur really didn’t like White either, even once calling her a c**t at an award ceremony. And McClanahan also admitted that her own relationship with Arthur was often strained, too.
12. McClanahan pushed Arthur to accept her part
The frostiness between McClanahan and Arthur is all the more surprising given that the former actually encouraged the latter to accept the part of Dorothy to begin with. Apparently, McClanahan managed to persuade her unconvinced co-star by asking her, “Why are you going to turn down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?”
11. Producers considered replacing Arthur for the spin-off
Following the show’s swansong in 1992, three Golden Girls reunited for a spin-off, The Golden Palace. It proved to be short-lived, however, lasting just one season. And Arthur was the only cast member to say no, briefly tempting producers to replace her with another actress so as not to upset the show’s winning balance.
10. Arthur wanted to quit the show earlier
The Golden Palace wasn’t the first time that Arthur had backed away from the rest of the Golden Girls, either. The veteran actress actually wanted to leave her Dorothy character behind after the fifth season, but she was eventually persuaded by producers to continue her role for another two years.
9. Getty rejected several jokes
Arthur was renowned for her work as an activist, but it seems as if she wasn’t the only Golden Girl with principles. Getty once revealed that she made sure her character would never make fun of someone’s physical appearance or sexuality, and she also refused to take part in a joke that made light of domestic violence.
8. Rue McClanahan got to keep her wardrobe
Blanche Devereaux was widely regarded as the most stylish of the Golden Girls. And in a shrewd business move, actress Ruse McClanahan added a clause to her contract stipulating that she could take home her character’s custom-made garments – all 13 closets full of them!
7. There were numerous continuity errors
Eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted that the number of Blanche’s children differs during the course of its seven seasons, as does the age of Dorothy’s son Michael. The reason? Well, the show employed several writing teams throughout, none of whom appeared to be particularly concerned with continuity.
6. Betty White was cast as Blanche
And Dorothy wasn’t the only character who changed faces during the casting process. Betty White was originally touted to play good-time Golden Girl Blanche, as she’d played a similar role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Eventually, of course, she accepted the more demure part of Rose instead.
5. Arthur hated cheesecake
Prepare to have your illusions shattered. Yes, The Golden Girls were famous for cutting into a late-night cheesecake at the kitchen table while discussing the episode’s issues. But in reality, Arthur actually hated the taste of the dessert – even though she had to tuck into over 100 cheesecakes during the show’s run.
4. There was nearly another major character
Here’s another little known fact: there was very nearly a fifth honorary Golden Girl, but time constraints forced producers to cut his character. A gay butler called Coco – played by Charles Levin – was living with the girls in the pilot. But despite receiving a thumbs-up from the audience, he never appeared on the show again.
3. Getty was younger than her on-screen daughter
Getty certainly suffered for her art. In real life, Getty was actually younger than both her on-screen daughter Dorothy (Arthur) and Rose (White), but she was cast to play the elderly Sophia Petrillo after producers spotted her playing a mother figure in Broadway production Torch Song Trilogy. And so the actress had to spend three hours in the make-up chair each episode in order to look convincing.
2. Getty had a facelift
And Getty didn’t exactly make things easy for herself or the makeup team, either. Indeed, much to the ire of the show’s producers, during the show’s first summer hiatus she had a facelift to make herself look even younger in real life! Afterwards, then, the actress was forced to spend even more time in the makeup chair.
1. The “Sick and Tired” episode was autobiographical
In the season five opening two-parter, “Sick and Tired,” Dorothy’s persistent illness is dismissed by doctors who claim her symptoms are all in her head. Finally, she receives a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. This storyline, however, was actually inspired by creator Harris’ real-life struggle with the condition and her own battle to get a medical diagnosis.