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A DUSTY LITTLE PSYCHIATRIST

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NILES CRANE

by Kathy Churay

When the NBC hit series Frasier was first planned back in 1992, title character Frasier Crane had no brother. The role of younger sibling Niles was written into the first episode after an eagle-eyed casting agent noted the resemblance between lead actor Kelsey Grammer and a hilariously suicidal congressman in the short-lived TV comedy The Powers That Be. The actor was David Hyde Pierce, and the rest has become sitcom legend.

Pierce and Niles were made for each other. Gifted with an ability to spout highbrow nonsense with ease and a made-for-slapstick frame that seems at once too stiff to bend and too rubbery to remain upright, Pierce inhabits the waspish psychiatrist with sometimes heart-rending conviction. Pompous, fussy and perfectionistic, a razor-sharp wit with a heart of Silly Putty, the anxiety-ridden Niles has grown in popularity until his following rivals that of his brother Frasier.

Niles Crane is one of the most fascinating and complex characters in modern television. The biography that follows is one fan's attempt to chronicle the events that formed him into the deeply flawed, endearingly human character we've come to know and love over six priceless seasons. The major events of Niles's life are those recounted in actual episodes of Frasier, and the quotes are from the dialogue generated by the show's brilliant writing staff. The interpretation, and any factual errors, are my own.

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