He was one of television’s most reliable funnymen for decades thanks to his starring roles in Frasier and Cheers – but in his real life, Kelsey Grammer’s endured several unimaginable tragedies.
As reported earlier this week, Grammer, 66, has lost several close family members in sudden and sometimes violent circumstances. Raised by his mother and maternal grandparents, he lost his grandfather to cancer at 12 years old. Years later, his two half-brothers would die in a freak scuba diving accident.
But it was the violent murders of both Grammer’s father and his sister that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Kelsey’s father senselessly killed
Grammer’s parents divorced when he was two and his father Frank remarried, having four children with his new wife. Business Insider reports that one day in April 1968, a man set fire to Frank’s car outside his family’s home. When Frank went outside to confront the stranger, he was shot twice. His wife later testified that she had to pull Frank’s body from in front of the car as the man threatened to run him over too.
Frank Grammer died from his gunshot wounds. Kelsey was just 13 years old at the time.
The man responsible for the attack, Arthur B Niles, was found not guilty of murder due to insanity and spent decades in a psychiatric ward before being released in 1994. In 2003 he was locked up again after threatening to kill a judge who had placed a restraining order on him.
Sister’s brutal murder ‘nearly destroyed’ him
Seven years after losing his father, 20-year-old Kelsey Grammer also lost his younger sister in the most horrific circumstances.Karen, 18, was kidnapped and raped by four men and murdered by a man named Freddie Lee Glenn.
Karen was sitting alone outside the cafe where she’d just finished a shift as a waitress when she was abducted in June 1975. Business Insider reports the sickening details of the crime, with Glenn and his accomplices driving Karen to an apartment where they “took turns raping her for about four hours”.
Afterwards, Glenn stabbed her repeatedly and left her for dead in a trailer park. Tragically, Karen was able to make it to the safety of a nearby home – but nobody was inside, and she died from her wounds on the porch.
The following year, Glenn was found guilty of Karen’s murder, as well as two other killings at the time. He was sentenced to death – but that death sentence was later overturned and he remains in prison to this day.
Grammer has spoken up more than once to ensure his sister’s killer remains locked away.
“I miss her in my bones,” he wrote to the parole board in 2009, as per Vanity Fair. “I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her — I could not .. It very nearly destroyed me.”
In 2014, he successfully appealed another attempt from Glenn to be released from prison – this time appearing via video link so he could confront his sister’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 him via video during the hearing, Vanity Fair reported.
“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 his position yet again in a 2017 hearing. Glenn remains in prison to this day.
Despite these many personal tragedies, Grammer told Page Six in an interview published this week that he tries to look on the bright side of 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.”
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