David Hyde Pierce

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David Hyde Pierce
David Hyde Pierce VF Shankbone 2010.jpg
Pierce in New York City in 2010
Born David Pierce
(1959-04-03) April 3, 1959 (age 56)
Saratoga Springs, New York
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Brian Hargrove (m. 2008)

David Hyde Pierce (born April 3, 1959)[1] is an American actor and comedian. Pierce is known for playing the psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier, for which he won four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series during the show's run.

Early life[edit]

Pierce was born David Pierce in Saratoga Springs, New York. His father, George Hyde Pierce, was an aspiring actor, and his mother, Laura Marie (née Hughes) (deceased),[2] was an insurance agent.[1] He added his middle name "Hyde" to avoid confusion with another actor named David Pierce.[3]

As a child, Pierce frequently played organ at the local Bethesda Episcopal Church.[4]

While attending Yale, Pierce performed in and directed student productions, appearing in the Yale Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of H.M.S. Pinafore. He also directed the Gilbert & Sullivan Society's operetta Princess Ida.[5] Among other roles Pierce played at Yale were in Waiting for Godot, Saint Joan, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.[citation needed]


After his graduation, Pierce moved to New York City, where during the 1980s and early 1990s he was employed in various jobs, such as selling ties at Bloomingdale's and working as a security guard, while pursuing an acting career 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 1982 in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy.[6]

Pierce at the 1994 Emmy Awards

Pierce's first big television break came in the early 1990s with Norman Lear's political comedy, The Powers That Be, in which Pierce played Theodore, a Congressman.[7] Despite positive reviews from critics, the show was canceled after a brief run.

In part due to his close physical resemblance to Kelsey Grammer,[8] the producers of the Cheers spin-off Frasier created the role of Niles Crane (Frasier Crane's younger brother) for him.[7] Although prior to Frasier going into production, Pierce had petitioned the Screen Actors Guild to change his billing to David Pierce, the name he had used on the stage, the use of his middle name in the show's credits helped reinforce the actor's and the character's "snooty" image.[8] For his work on Frasier, Pierce was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy a record eleven consecutive years, winning in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

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

Pierce also appeared alongside Jodie Foster in Little Man Tate, with Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone's Nixon, and with Ewan McGregor in Down With Love.[7] He 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 2001, he starred in the cult 1980s summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer as the befuddled astrophysicist, Prof. Henry Newman. In his role in Sleepless in Seattle, Pierce played the brother of Meg Ryan's character, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. The movie was released just three months before the start of Frasier.[7]

In 2005, Pierce joined Tim Curry and others in the stage production of Spamalot.[7] In August and September 2006, he starred as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in Curtains, a new Kander and Ebb musical staged at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. In March 2007, Curtains opened on Broadway[7] and 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 performance.[7] In his acceptance speech, Pierce said the first words he spoke on a Broadway stage were, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."[9]

On November 19, 2007, Pierce was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. In 1999 he was awarded an Honorary Degree from Skidmore College, located in his native Saratoga Springs. In 2010, Pierce appeared in a revival of David Hirson's play La Bête directed by Matthew Warchus. The production debuted on London's West End before moving to New York.[10] Also in 2010, Pierce had his first starring film role as Warwick Wilson in the dark comedy/psychological thriller The Perfect Host.

Pierce outside Harold Pinter Theatre after the final performance of La Bête in September 4 2010

Voice acting[edit]

Pierce at the Governor's Ball dinner after the Emmy Awards in September 1995

Pierce is known for his distinctive voice and, like his Frasier co-star, Kelsey Grammer, is often called upon to provide voice work. His notable roles include the narrator of the movie The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human in 1999, 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.[7] Pierce refused credit for his Hellboy role because he felt it was the performance of Doug Jones, and not his own voice, which ultimately brought the character of Abe Sapien to life.[11] He was the voice for Drix, a cold pill, in the animated comedy Osmosis Jones.

In a deliberate in-joke, he 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 in the episode, Cecil mistakes Bart for Maris, the unseen wife of Niles on Frasier. He returned as Cecil in the Season 19 episode "Funeral for a Fiend" where Frasier co-star John Mahoney (who starred as Frasier and Niles' father in the show) voices Dr. Robert Terwilliger, Sr., the father of Cecil and Sideshow Bob.

Pierce provided the voice of Mr. Daedalus in the 1998 Disney show Hercules: The Animated Series. In 2006, he co-starred in the animated pilot for The Amazing Screw-On Head as the Screw-On Head's nemesis Emperor Zombie; however, the series was not picked up. His commercial voiceover work included ads for the Tassimo coffee system, Seattle's Metro Transit, and home furnishings retailer IKEA Canada.[12]

Pierce also narrated a 2-CD tour guide "Napa Uncorked" in 2002.[13]

Personal life[edit]

After years of media speculation about his sexuality, Pierce came out in 2007 and later confirmed through his publicist that he and television writer, director and producer Brian Hargrove were a couple.[14][15] 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."[16] They married in California on October 24, 2008, just days before Proposition 8 was adopted as law, banning same-sex marriages in the state.[17] On May 28, 2009, while a guest on The View, he publicly announced his marriage to Hargrove and expressed his anger about the approval of Proposition 8.[18]

He and Frasier co-star John Mahoney are godparents to Frasier co-star Jane Leeves' son, Finn.[19] Pierce has spent years working with the Alzheimer's Association on behalf of Americans with Alzheimer's disease. He has appeared in Washington, D.C., to testify in support of expanding funding for treatment, and he publicly campaigned for the National Alzheimer's Project Act. Pierce told MSNBC in 2011, "it is up to us, to all of us, to the American people and to their representatives about whether we face the challenges and make all the effort necessary or if we ignore it and just let this sort of tidal wave crash over us."[20]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Appointments of Dennis Jennings Businessman Short film
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Bartender at Fashion Show
1988 Crossing Delancey Mark
1988 Rocket Gibraltar Monsieur Henri
1989 Vampire's Kiss Theater Guy
1990 Across Five Aprils Union Soldier
1991 Little Man Tate Garth Emmerick
1991 The Fisher King Lou Rosen
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Dennis Reed
1993 Addams Family Values Delivery Room Doctor
1994 Wolf Roy
1995 Ripple Peter Short film
1995 Nixon John Dean Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1998 A Bug's Life Slim Voice
1999 The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human Narrator Voice
1999 Jackie's Back Perry Television film
2000 Isn't She Great Michael Hastings
2000 Chain of Fools Mr. Kerner
2000 The Tangerine Bear Bird Voice
2001 Wet Hot American Summer Henry Newman
2001 Happy Birthday Barney Short film
2001 Osmosis Jones Drix Voice
2001 Laud Weiner Laud Weiner Short film
2001 On the Edge Barney Television film
2002 Full Frontal Carl
2002 Treasure Planet Doctor Doppler Voice
2003 Down with Love Peter Macanus
2004 Hellboy Abe Sapien Voice
2006 The Amazing Screw-On Head Emperor Zombie Voice
Television film
2008 Forever Plaid: The Movie Narrator Voice
2009 Stingray Sam Narrator Voice
2010 The Perfect Host Warwick Wilson


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Spenser: For Hire O'Neill Episode: "The Man Who Wasn't There"
1987 Crime Story NSA Agent Carruthers Episode: "Mig 21"
1988 Knightwatch Gibson Episode: "Friday Knight"
1992 Dream On Jerry Dorfer Episode: "The Guilty Party"
1992–1993 The Powers That Be Theodore Van Horne 20 episodes
1993–2004 Frasier Dr. Niles Crane 264 episodes
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male in a Television Series (1995–2000)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1995, 1998–1999, 2004)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy (1997–98)
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series (1994–1998, 2000)
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male in a Television Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1995–1998, 2001)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1994, 1996–97, 2000–2003)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2003–2004)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1995, 1997–2002)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995–1999, 2001–2004)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series
1995 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "David Hyde Pierce/Live"
1995 Caroline in the City Dr. Niles Crane Episode: "Caroline and the Bad Back"
1996 The Outer Limits Dr. Jack Henson Episode: "The Sentence"
CableACE Award for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1996 Mighty Ducks Baron von Lichtenstamp Voice
3 episodes
1996 Caroline in the City Jimmy Callahan Episode: "Caroline and the Cat Dancer"
1997 Happily Every After Puss Voice
Episode: "Puss in Boots"
1997–2007 The Simpsons Cecil Terwilliger Voice
2 episodes
2001 Titus Jerry October Episode: "Life Forward"
2003 Gary the Rat Addison Voice
Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"
2012 Sesame Street Commander Chiphead Episode: "Get Lost, Mr. Chips"
2014 The Simpsons Felix Voice
Episode: "Clown in the Dumps"
2014–2015 The Good Wife Frank Prady 8 episodes
2015 Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Henry Newman 2 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Beyond Therapy Andrew
1990 The Heidi Chronicles Peter Patrone
2005 A Wonderful Life Clarence
2005–2009 Spamalot Sir Robin and others Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
2007–2008 Curtains Lieutenant Frank Cioffi Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
2009 Accent on Youth Steven Gaye
2010–2011 La Bête Elomire
2013 Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Vanya Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play


  1. ^ a b "David Hyde Pierce profile". Rootsweb. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001383/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  3. ^ "Hyde in a sort of Jekyll role". New York Post. June 29, 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2015. I did not come out of the womb with the name 'Hyde'. It was my middle name from my dad's side of the family. His mom's maiden name. So when our film union said there was already a David Pierce, I added the name 'Hyde' 
  4. ^ Barbara S Wilson, Arlene Flancher, and Susan T. Erdey, The Episcopal Handbook (Moorhouse [Church] Publishing 2008), pp. 106-7, ISBN 978-0-8192-2329-6.
  5. ^ Rizzo, Frank. "David Hyde Pierce Directs Comedy At Williamstown" courant.com, July 8, 2012
  6. ^ The Broadway League. "Profile at IBDb". Ibdb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Showperson; the DHP Website". Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  8. ^ a b Newman, Bruce (1998-03-01). "All In Their Family". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  9. ^ "David Hyde Pierce Acceptance Speech Tony Award". YouTube. 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  10. ^ "Rylance, Lumley and Hyde Pierce bring La Bête to West End". London, UK. 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  11. ^ Doug Jones (May 11, 2007). Doug Jones - Exclusive Interview (transcript). Interview with Staci Layne. Horror.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  12. ^ "IKEA Pax: Our Pre-Wedding Photographer Lives in Advertising". Youtube.com. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2011-10-28. 
  13. ^ CDroam
  14. ^ The Associated Press (May 30, 2007). "'Frasier' brother finds home on stage". CNN. Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  15. ^ "David Hyde Pierce joins list of out gay actors". AfterElton. May 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  16. ^ "Rants & Raves". The Advocate. July 17, 2007. pp. 26, issue 989. 
  17. ^ "Frasier Star Reveals He Wed Boyfriend". US Magazine. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  18. ^ "David Hyde Pierce reveals he's been secretly married to partner of 25 years". New York Daily News. 29 May 2009. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  19. ^ Mulkerrins, Jane (2011-02-13). "'People are stopping me in the street again!': Actress Jane Leeves has struck sitcom gold again". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  20. ^ "David Hyde Pierce: Don't forget Alzheimer's - US news - Giving | NBC News". MSNBC. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 

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