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David Hyde Pierce (born April 3, 1959) is an Americanmarker actor and comedian, best known for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier.

Early life

Pierce was born in Saratoga Springsmarker, New Yorkmarker, the youngest child of Laura Marie (née Hughes) and George Hyde Pierce, who was an insurance agent and aspiring actor. He has two older sisters, Barbara and Nancy, and an older brother, Thomas.

As a child he became very interested in the piano and frequently played organ at the local Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs. He began acting in high school and was recognized as best Dramatic Arts student. He also received the Yaddo Medal for character and scholarship in 1977, and worked in theater while a counselor at Camp Kabeyun, in New Hampshire. However, his love of music was still strong, so he decided to study classical piano at Yale Universitymarker. Unfortunately, he soon grew bored with music history lessons and found that he wasn’t dedicated enough to practice the required number of hours to become a successful concert pianist. Instead, he graduated in 1981 with a double major in English and Theatre Arts.

At Yale Universitymarker, Pierce performed and directed student productions, appearing as Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., in the Yale Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of H.M.S. Pinafore; for the same society, he directed the operetta Princess Ida, and occasionally accompanied rehearsals on the piano. Other roles he played as a student at Yale include Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, Cauchon in Saint Joan, and Nick in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Pierce then moved to New York Citymarker, where he worked several jobs including selling ties at Bloomingdale's and working as a security guard while acting in the theater during the late 1980s and early 1990s and studying at Michael Howard Studios. During this period, he portrayed Laertes in a popular off-Broadway production of Hamlet.


Pierce at the 1994 Emmy Awards
Pierce's first big television break came when in the early 1990s with Norman Lear's political comedy The Powers That Be. Pierce played Theodore, a Congressman. Despite positive reviews from critics, the show was cancelled after a brief run.

Pierce has commented in interviews that the cancellation came as a shock to him and that he was very disappointed the show did not continue. His career would soon, however, take off with a role on another sitcom. In part because of his physical resemblance to Kelsey Grammer, the role of Niles Crane on the Cheers spin-off Frasier was created for him. For this role, Pierce was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy for a record eleven consecutive years, winning in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2004. For the last few years of the run of the show, it's speculated that Pierce was paid up to US$1 million per episode.

Pierce also acts in movies from time to time. He appeared alongside Jodie Foster in Little Man Tate, with Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone's Nixon, and alongside Ewan McGregor in Down With Love. He also provided the voice for Doctor Doppler in Disney's 42nd animated feature Treasure Planet, Slim, a stick insect in Pixar's A Bug's Life and Abe Sapien in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy.

In his role in Sleepless in Seattle, Pierce played Meg Ryan's character's brother, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University. Upon his sister's admission that she had been fantasizing about the man in Seattlemarker, Hyde-Pierce's character replied, “It rains nine months of the year in Seattle.” This was roughly one year before the start of Frasier.

In 2005, Pierce joined Tim Curry and others in the stage production Spamalot. In August/September 2006, he starred in Curtains as Lietenant Frank Cioffi, a new Kander and Ebb musical at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angelesmarker, which transferred to Broadwaymarker in March 2007. On June 10, 2007 Pierce won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at the 61st Tony Awards for his role in Curtains. On November 19, 2007, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Niagara Universitymarker in Lewiston, New Yorkmarker.

In his Tony acceptance speech for "Curtains," he said the first words he spoke on a Broadway stage were 'I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Voice acting

Pierce has a distinctive voice and, like his Frasier co-star Kelsey Grammer, is often called upon to provide voice work. Some of his more notable roles in this calling include the walking stick insect Slim in A Bug's Life, Doctor Delbert Doppler in Disney's film Treasure Planet, and the amphibian Abe Sapien in Hellboy. Pierce refused credit for his Hellboy role, because he felt that it was the performance of Doug Jones, and not his own voice, which ultimately brought the character of Abe Sapien to life. He provided the voice for Drix, a cold pill in the animated comedy Osmosis Jones. In a deliberate in-joke, he has also voiced Cecil, the brother of Kelsey Grammer-voiced Sideshow Bob, in The Simpsons episode "Brother from Another Series," in which the two characters parallel the Frasier-Niles relationship. At one point, Cecil mistook Bart for Maris, the unseen wife of Niles on Frasier. He once again returned as Cecil in the Season 19 episode "Funeral for a Fiend," this time also joined by Frasier co-star John Mahoney, who provided the voice of Bob and Cecil's father in the episode, mirroring his role as Martin Crane.

In 2006, Pierce co-starred in the animated pilot for The Amazing Screw-On Head as the Screw-On Head's arch-nemesis Emperor Zombie; however, the series was not picked up. His commercial voiceover work includes ads for the Tassimo coffee system and home furnishings retailer IKEA Canada.

Personal life

After years of speculation about his sexuality, his relationship with long-time partner, television writer, director and producer Brian Hargrove was made public in 2007. Pierce later confirmed, through his publicist, that he and Hargrove were indeed a couple.

When accepting his Tony Award for Curtains, Pierce thanked "my partner, Brian, because it's 24 years of listening to your damn notes — that's why I'm up here tonight." He and Hargrove were married in California on October 24, 2008, just before Proposition 8 was adopted as law, banning same-sex marriages in the state. They live in New York and Los Angeles.

On May 28, 2009, while he was a guest on The View, he publicly announced his marriage to Hargrove and expressed his anger over the Proposition 8 ruling.



  1. Barbara S Wilson, Arlene Flancher, and Susan T Erdey, The Episcopal Handbook (Moorhouse [Church] Publishing 2008), pp. 106-107, ISBN 978-0819223296.
  2. Show Person: the David Hyde Pierce website
  3. AP staff report, "David Hyde Pierce says he married longtime partner," May 29, 2009. Found at yahoo news. Accessed May 29, 2009.

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