How Kelsey Grammer overcame harrowing personal tragedies in his life before rising to fame
14 January 2023, 15:00
He's one of television comedy's most recognisable faces.
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But before he kept us laughing as the pompous and persistently hopeless on-screen psychiatrist, Grammer endured a number of immeasurable tragedies in his life.
He revealed in a recent interview that during his younger years, he lost close family members in tragically sudden and violent circumstances.
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These deeply shocking incidents have haunted Kelsey Grammer throughout his life since, and have caused him to turn to substance abuse, a problem he's addressed in the past.
In the face of immense pain and personal torment however, he still rose to fame and kept us laughing throughout the years.
He said these tragedies "nearly destroyed" him, and to find hope during these times is something we'd all struggle to do.
But Grammer came through the other side - remarkable, especially given his success in the world of acting, and a testament to his strength of character.
He suffered loss at an early age
Kelsey Grammer's parents divorced when he was just two years of age, which began the unstable beginning to his early life.
His father left, so he was raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents in New Jersey before the family eventually upped sticks and moved miles down south to Pompano Beach, Florida.
Not long after their relocation, sadly his grandfather succumbed to cancer which devastated the young Grammer.
This huge loss marked the start of a period of tragedies that would turn his life upside down.
Kelsey's father was mindlessly murdered
Even though his father, Frank Allen Grammer Jr, had left the family unit and re-married, Kelsey still had a close connection with him.
When Grammer was just 13 however, his father was mindlessly murdered in a home invasion where they lived in Saint Thomas.
During a period of racial violence in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination, his father Frank's car was set on fire whilst parked on his driveway.
Frank confronted the stranger and was shot twice. When testifying, his wife and mother of Kelsey's four half-siblings said she had to pull Frank's body from in front of the car as the man threatened to run him over after already murdering him.
The man responsible for Frank's murder was found not guilty of murder due to insanity, spending decades in a psychiatric ward.
He was eventually released in 1994, but was put away again in 2003 after threatening to kill the judge that ordered a restraining order on him.
Kelsey's sister was killed in a brutal attack
When he was 20, seven years after losing his father in violent circumstances, Kelsey's sister was also taken away from him in a shockingly brutal murder.
In 1975, his sister Karen was kidnapped by four men, raped, and eventually murdered by a man called Freddie Lee Glenn.
The sickening details of the attack were revealed by Business Insider, which reported that Karen was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead in a trailer park after suffering hours of abuse.
Her killer was found guilty the following year, and was imprisoned for her murder and the murder of two other women.
He was sentenced to death which was later overturned, and Kelsey has spoken on several occasions to keep him imprisoned.
"I miss her in my bones," he wrote to the parole board in 2009. "I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her — I could not .. It very nearly destroyed me."
Again in 2014, Grammer successfully appealed another attempt from Glenn to be released, appearing via video link to address Karen's killer directly:
"I accept that you actually live with remorse every day of your life, but I live with tragedy every day of mine," Grammer told Glenn during the hearing.
"I accept your apology. I forgive you. However, I cannot give your release my endorsement. To give that a blessing would be a betrayal of my sister's life."
He repeated the same position once more in 2017, and Glenn remains in prison to this day.
Kelsey's half-brothers died in a tragic scuba diving accident
Five years after Karen's appalling murder, Kelsey once again found himself tackling a period of intense pain.
Stephen and Billy, Kelsey's two half-brothers, both sadly died in a scuba diving accident in Saint Thomas.
During the dive, Billy failed to resurface. Stephen went back down to look him, but died of an air embolism having ascended improperly.
Billy's body was never recovered.
How did Kelsey Grammer overcome the multiple tragedies and immense personal pain?
Like anyone would be who suffered multiple personal tragedies in such a short space of time in their lives, Kelsey was deeply affected. Almost beyond repair.
He blamed himself for Karen's death, despite not even living in the same state as her when the incident occurred.
"I abandoned the effort to find a reason to be alive," he candidly revealed in an interview with The Radio Times.
In a later interview with Vanity Fair, he said: "It's hard to explain. It's not rational. But it happens anyway. I know a lot of people who've lost their siblings and blame themselves."
"Every one of us is going to experience some terrible loss. I just got a big dose."
"For every story you hear that's tragic, there's another that's equally tragic or more so. I think you come to look at it as part of life."
In spite of immense personal pain, he came through it and achieved huge success in his career, which the actor is incredibly grateful for as he retains a positive outlook on his life.
"I don't complain about my life," he said. "It was an extraordinary challenge a lot of the time, and there's been a lot of pain and a lot of great joy."
"I wouldn't trade a moment of it except to possibly bring back some people I care about."