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

Early life

Pierce was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, the youngest of four children of Laura Marie (née Hughes) and George Hyde Pierce, who was an insurance agent and aspiring actor.[1] He has two older sisters, Barbara and Nancy, and an older brother, Thomas. As a child, Pierce became very interested in the piano and frequently played organ at the local Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs.[2] 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.[3] However, his love of music was still strong, so he decided to study classical piano at Yale University. 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 University, 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 City, 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 played Laertes in a popular off-Broadway production of Hamlet and made his Broadway debut in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy in 1982. [4]


File:David Hyde Pierce at 47th Emmy Awards.jpg

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.[5] 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 close physical resemblance to Kelsey Grammer,[6] the role of Niles Crane (Frasier Crane's younger brother) on the Cheers spin-off Frasier was created for him.[5] Although before the show began Pierce had petitioned the Screen Actors Guild to change his billing to David Pierce, the name he had used on the stage, using his middle name helped reinforce the actor and the character's "snooty" image.[6] 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.[5] 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.[citation needed]

File:Mikulski, Bond, and Pierce at Alzheimer's Press Conference.jpg

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, Missouri Senator Kit Bond and David at the Alzheimer's Press Conference to promote awareness

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.[5] 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. He also starred in the 2001 cult '80s summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer, as befuddled astrophysicist Prof. Henry Newman.

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 Seattle, Hyde-Pierce's character replied, “It rains nine months of the year in Seattle.” The movie was released just three months before the start of Frasier.[5]

In 2005, Pierce joined Tim Curry and others in the stage production Spamalot.[5] In August/September 2006, he starred in Curtains as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, a new Kander and Ebb musical at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, which transferred to Broadway in March 2007.[5] 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.[5] On November 19, 2007, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. (In 1999, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Degree from Skidmore College, located in Saratoga Springs, NY.)

File:David Hyde Pierce at the 1995 Emmy Awards.jpg

Pierce at the Governor's Ball dinner after the 1995 Emmy Awards on September 10, 1995

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."[7]

Pierce is currently appearing in a production of La Bête in London's West End. The production is due to move to Broadway after its run in London is complete.[8]

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.[5] 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.[9] 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,". He was rumoured for a period to be the voice actor behind Stewie Griffin in Family Guy, furthered jokingly by Seth MacFarlane (the shows creator and the actual voice actor) who agreed with an interviewee on the Family Guy 100th Episode celebration that David Hyde Pierce did in fact play Stewie.

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.[10][11]

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."[12] 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.[13] 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.[14][15]


  • The Appointments of Dennis Jennings (1988)
  • Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
  • Crossing Delancey (1988)
  • Rocket Gibraltar (1988)
  • Vampire's Kiss (1989)
  • Across Five Aprils (1990)
  • Little Man Tate (1991)
  • The Fisher King (1991)
  • The Powers That Be (1992) (TV)
  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
  • Frasier (1993–2004) (TV)
  • Addams Family Values (1993)
  • Wolf (1994)
  • Ripple (1995)
  • Nixon (1995)
  • Mighty Ducks (1996) (TV)
  • The Outer Limits (1996) (TV)
  • The Simpsons (1997) - Cecil Terwilliger
  • A Bug's Life (1998)
  • Jackie's Back (1999)
  • The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1999)
  • Isn't She Great (2000)
  • Chain of Fools (2000)
  • The Tangerine Bear (2000)
  • Titus (2001) (TV)
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
  • On the Edge (2001)
  • Happy Birthday (2001)
  • Osmosis Jones (2001)
  • Laud Weiner (2001)
  • Full Frontal (2002)
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • Down with Love (2003)
  • Hellboy (2004)
  • The Amazing Screw-On Head (2006) (TV)
  • Curtains (2007) - Lt. Frank Cioffi (stage musical)
  • The Simpsons (2007) - Cecil Terwilliger
  • Stingray Sam (2009) - Narrator


  1. "David Hyde Pierce Ahnentafel". Rootsweb. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  2. Barbara S Wilson, Arlene Flancher, and Susan T Erdey, The Episcopal Handbook (Moorhouse [Church] Publishing 2008), pp. 106-107, ISBN 978-0819223296.
  3. "The Yaddo Medal". Saratoga Springs School District. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 "Showperson; the DHP Website". Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Newman, Bruce (1998-03-01). "All In Their Family". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  7. "David Hyde Pierce Acceptance Speech Tony Award". YouTube. 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  8. "Rylance, Lumley and Hyde Pierce bring La Bête to West End". London. 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  9. Doug Jones. Interview with Staci Layne. 11 May 2007. (Interview [transcript]). Retrieved on 2008-06-11.
  10. The Associated Press (30 May 2007). "'Frasier' brother finds home on stage". CNN. Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  11. "David Hyde Pierce joins list of out gay actors". AfterElton. 30 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  12. "Rants & Raves". The Advocate. 17 July 2007. pp. 26, issue 989. 
  13. Show Person: the David Hyde Pierce website
  14. AP staff report, "David Hyde Pierce says he married longtime partner," May 29, 2009. Found at yahoo news. Accessed May 29, 2009.
  15. "David Hyde Pierce reveals he's been secretly married to partner of 25 years". New York Daily News. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name
  1. REDIRECT Template:ScreenActorsGuildAward MaleTVComedy 1994–2009
  2. REDIRECT Template:TonyAward MusicalLeadActor 2001–2025

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