A few months ago, I was snooping through a friend's bookshelf when I discovered a copy of Kelsey Grammer's 1995 autobiography So Far... Safe to say, I stole the book and read it cover to cover.
So Far... (never forget the ellipsis) was written at an exciting time Grammer's life. Frasier, which began as a simple Cheers spin-off, was a huge success and he was on his way to becoming the highest paid actor in television history. Things were going well in his personal life, too. Two divorces out of the way, he was engaged to then-fiancée and then-love of his life, Tammy Baliszewski. In 1995, the Kels—as he likes to call himself—was on top of the world.
Grammer has had a fascinating and tragic life that includes drug addiction, destructive romantic relationships, career highs and lows and—most horrifyingly—the murder of multiple family members. His personal story—even without exaggeration—makes for excellent celebrity memoir fodder. That said, there's one thing you should know before RUNNING to your local bookstore to buy out all the copies of So Far... for yourself:
Kelsey Grammer is a fucking asshole.
While the stereotype of the self-aggrandizing actor is hardly new or unproven, the Kelsey of 1995 took it to groundbreaking levels. His ego is so big, in fact, that my initial plan to note anytime Grammer looked like an insane megalomaniac became an incredibly overwhelming task. Here's what my annotations ended up looking like:
So instead of documenting every crazy thing he said, I've decided to highlight just some moments that best capture the truly awful essence of Kelsey Grammer.
On the most Christ-like profession, acting:
After awhile it became painfully clear that I was not Jesus. That was not exactly what [God] had in mind for me. Still, it was that same desire to do good, to serve mankind if you will, that led me to become an actor.
Acting is better and more honest than any other job:
It was back in Buffalo, during my first winter there. The theater arranged privileges for the actors at the Jewish Y, so every night before the show I would go there and take some steam. One evening, three of us were sitting in our towels and struck up a conversation. It got around to our individual careers—one was an insurance salesman, the other a real estate agent, and I of course was an actor.
"Wow, an actor," said the insurance salesman. "That's pretty tough."
"Yeah," I said, "but it's a good life. I love my work."
It went on like that for awhile until finally he said, "You know, we're not so different—in fact, we have a lot in common. The truth is, I act every day."
Suddenly I was seized by a great revelation, and my actor's indignation welled up within me. I looked him in the eye and told him, "No, you don't. The truth is, you lie everyday."
Here's how he describes his life's "weirdness:"
...My life had included such weirdness as the murder of my father, the rape and murder of my beloved and only sister, the drowning deaths of my two half brothers and a marriage that went south even before the ceremony. But it was definitely weird that I ever got to sing on stage in New York. Because the thing of it was, when I was chosen for "Sunday in the Park with George," I was in my late twenties—and I hadn't sung since I was in high school.
Jesus Christ. That family shit is horrifying, tragic and, yeah, "weird," I guess. But not quite as weird as a professional stage actor auditioning for Stephen Sondheim.
Grammer has feuded with many of his costars, chief among them being Shelley Long, Christopher Plummer and Eddie (real name, Moose), the dog on Fraiser.
It's widely rumored that I hate the dog, and it's kind of fun to perpetuate the myth. The truth is, I have nothing against Moose. The only difficulty I have is when people start believing he's an actor. Acting to me is a craft, not a reflex. It takes years to master, and though it does have its rewards, the reward I seek is not a hot dog. Moose does tricks; I memorize lines, say words, even walk around and stuff. But I don't need a trainer standing off-camera, gesticulating wildly and waving around a piece of meat, to know where I'm supposed to look.
What we have here is that Kelsey Grammer, a human man, is feeling jealous of and competitive with a dog.
But his attitude towards animals is nothing compared to his attitude towards women, which is perfectly summed up on the back cover.
Nice girls made me really nervous, claustrophobic. But broken women, women in pain, women looking to be fixed—ah, for these women the doctor was in.
At least he has a firm grasp of history:
...I have a revised history's account of Henry Hudson's "bargain." My version goes like this: Except for the occasional hunting party or to harvest the abundant sealife from its crystal waters, the island [of Manhattan] was of little interest to the Native Americans of the region. There was something about Manhattan that made them feel uneasy. They couldn't quite put their finger on it, but decided it was the kind of place that was fun for a visit but they'd never want to live there.
When the white ones first sailed up the river, the Indians were alarmed not by their presence but by their dreadful fashion sense. Funny hats and shoes, and enormous things called buckles at their waists; these pale faces were a strange bunch indeed.
"Let's trot down and see what these idiots want."
"Oh, great-feathered, underdressed people. We would like to buy this magnificent island from you."
"I think they want to buy the island from us...but we don't own it, do we? Can we do that?" The native people powwowed a moment, then asked, "How much?"
"Oh, roughly twenty-four bucks or so."
"We'll take it," said the Indians, and they left convinced that they had struck a wonderful bargain. As far back as they could remember, the only tribe that ever tried to settle Manhattan had suffered a kind of mass insanity, attempting to build a multiple-level tee-pee. Of course, the Europeans knew a lot about vertical expression, and for them this place was perfect. And so Manhattan became a great canvas for glorious erections of the western mind.
Of course, no erection is as towering and domineering as that of the Kels.
Things have changed for Kelsey since 1995. He broke up with Tammy Baliszewski before they made it to the altar, married Camille Grammer and left her after 13 years of marriage for Kayte Walsh, a flight attendant-turned-film producer who is 25 years his junior. While still working and still excessively rich, he's nowhere near as prolific as he was during the 11-year run of Frasier. How lucky for him then that he should have So Far... to commemorate the golden years of his life?
Would I recommend reading this memoir? Well, it also includes an idiotic forward written by Kelsey Grammer in character as Frasier Crane, so, yes, indeed. I most certainly would.
Image via Getty.
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