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Whatever Happened To Daphne From Frasier?

When people think of the '90s sitcom boom, plenty of shows come to mind, but one smart, snappy series stands out from the pack — Frasier. A spinoff of Cheers, one of the most lauded sitcoms in television history, the show focused on Frasier Crane, Kelsey Grammer's wisecracking therapist, making his move from Boston back to his hometown of Seattle to start a new career in radio and reconnect with his father and brother. Running for a whopping 11 seasons, Frasier won an astounding 37 Emmy Awards during its reign.

Kelsey Grammer was already well-known before the show, but it made stars out of the other three leads, including David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, and Jane Leeves, who played Frasier's neurotic brother, his radio producer, and his brother's girlfriend, respectively. However, after the show ended, some of these actors fell off the radar a bit, and if you haven't been paying attention, you may have lost track of Leeves, who played the enigmatic Daphne Moon for all 11 seasons. The end of Frasier hasn't stopped Leeves from working consistently in Hollywood, and from her animated film and voice work to the next generation of television comedies, here's what she's been up to over the years.

Early acting and dance career

Born in Ilford (a town in East London) in Essex, England in April of 1961, Leeves grew up primarily in East Grinstead in West Sussex as the daughter of an engineer and a nurse. At the young age of five, the future star decided she wanted to be a dancer, and boldly auditioned for the Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts in East Grinstead. Leeves has recalled that despite a later audition slot, she pushed her way to the front, eventually earning herself a full scholarship.

However, after years of dance training, Leeves' dreams were crushed when she fell down a flight of stairs and injured her ankles, with damaged ligaments preventing her from pursuing a successful career in dance. With her chance to become a soloist taken away, Leeves decided to pursue a career in acting, with her first screen role coming as a background dancer in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

First television roles

In 1983, Leeves got her first break in television on The Benny Hill Show, a long-running British sketch comedy that aired in more than 140 countries for over three decades. Living in London, Leeves worked on the show for two years as one of "Hill's Angels," a group of beautiful, scantily-clad women who danced and appeared in the background of many sketches.

However, Leeves still struggled to find work, and in 1985, she moved to Los Angeles with barely any money or belongings to enroll in acting classes, learning alongside future stars like Jim Carrey and Winona Ryder. Despite her newfound training, she still had trouble booking roles, and worked odd jobs like babysitting, working as a cashier in a souvenir store, and even a stint in a factory where she assembled nail accessory kits (though she was let go for talking to her co-workers more than she worked). Suffering from depression, Leeves toiled in obscurity for some time until she landed a role on Throb, a syndicated sitcom that ran for two years, playing Prudence "Blue" Anne Bartlett, who worked at a small record company. With a cast that included Paul Walker during the first season, Throb was a moderate success, and marked the first time most American audiences would meet (and be charmed by) Leeves, who kept her British accent for the role.

Major sitcom work

Likely thanks to her exposure on Throb, Leeves started to book more significant sitcom work, starting with Murphy Brown, a game-changing show starring Candice Bergen as a fiercely independent and successful journalist/news anchor. Through nine episodes over four years, Leeves became well-known to mainstream audiences as Audrey Cohen, an intelligent yet somewhat quirky woman who was romantically involved with Mitch Silverberg (Grant Shaud), a producer who worked with Brown.

However, Leeves didn't settle for appearing in just one huge American sitcom — starting in 1992, she appeared on Seinfeld, one of the most critically acclaimed and popular sitcoms in television history, in four different episodes. Playing the supporting character Marla the Virgin, Leeves was featured in some of the show's more risqué episodes, including "The Virgin" (which, unsurprisingly, focuses on Marla's lack of sexual experience as she carries on a relationship with Jerry), "The Contest" (one of the show's most famous episodes), and "The Pilot" (where Jerry and George pitch their pilot to NBC amidst a series of mishaps). She returned for the series finale as one of the witnesses to the many "crimes" committed by Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer.

Small pre-Frasier roles

Gaining more exposure and notoriety in Hollywood, Leeves stayed busy before booking her most well-known role. In the early 1990s, she was cast in the American adaptation of the popular British science fiction comedy Red Dwarf — even though the show aired on PBS in the United States, NBC wanted to create their own version. Leeves was cast as Holly, the ship's computer, alongside American actors like Craig Bierko and Chris Eigeman. However, after a long series of script rewrites, studio dissatisfaction, reshoots, and negative reactions to the casting, the pilot never aired on any television network.

Leeves also branched out into film during this time, appearing in To Live and Die in L.A., the 1985 action thriller directed by William Friedkin and adapted from Gerald Petievich's original source novel (which was inspired by Petievich's time working in the United States Secret Service). Appearing as Serena, a dancer, Leeves only had a small role, but the film has remained notable for featuring her alongside other future stars like Willem Dafoe (who has since appeared in everything from Oscar-nominated indies to blockbuster films) and John Turturro (a skilled actor who bridges the gap between films by the Coen brothers and the Transformers franchise).


Of course, Leeves is best known for her role on Frasier: Daphne Moon, a physical therapist who truly believed she had psychic powers. Leeves became a household name during her time on the series, picking up Emmy and Golden Globe nominations throughout the show's run (though her only win was a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Frasier's entire ensemble).

Offscreen, Frasier turned Leeves into the highest-paid British actress at the time; onscreen, viewers became extraordinarily invested in Daphne's romantic relationship with Niles Crane, Frasier's brother, which was developed while she lived in the Cranes' apartment as a caretaker to their father Martin (John Mahoney) and despite the fact that Niles was married when they met. Though some critics weren't as enamored with the relationship, it helped sell Leeves as a romantic lead, and when the show ended in 2004, the finale was well-received, leaving Leeves and the rest of the main cast in a prime position to pursue whichever projects they wanted to tackle next.

Animated films & voice work

Now a famous TV star, Jane Leeves chose a modest slate of film and television work following her Frasier breakthrough. Using her distinctive voice and now-famous British accent, Leeves lent her voice to animated films, beginning with the stop-motion film James & the Giant Peach in 1996. Based on Roald Dahl's famous children's novel and produced by distinctive director Tim Burton, this big-screen Peach featured Leeves as Mrs. Ladybug, one of James' insect friends, alongside big names like Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, and David Thewlis. Leeves sang in the film as well as providing voice work, and thanks to the clever storytelling and amazing animation, it premiered to positive reviews.

One of her next animated roles was a return to television in the Penguins of Madagascar series, where she played Lulu the chimp for two episodes in both 2009 and 2011. She followed this up with recurring and varied voice work on Phineas & Ferb, where she appeared as Wanda Acronym, the head of the OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym), who is in charge of a secret agent that just happens to be someone's pet chihuahua.

Small film roles & Broadway debut

During Frasier's run, Leeves booked a role in 1999's Music of the Heart, a feature film based on a 1995 documentary and a true story. Starring Meryl Streep, it tells the story of Roberta Guaspari (played by Streep), who was a crusader for music education within New York City's impoverished public schools and pioneered music as a source of inspiration and stability for low-income, at-risk youth. Directed by Wes Craven, the film was nominated for a small handful of Academy Awards (including nominations for Streep), and was well-received by critics. Leeves portrayed Dorothea von Haeften, a wealthy socialite who aids Guaspari in funding the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, a real program that ran in New York. She also appeared in 2003's The Event, a low-budget indie that premiered at Sundance to standing ovations.

In 2002, Leeves made her Broadway debut, taking over for Molly Ringwald in the long-running Cabaret. Leeves starred in the musical as Sally Bowles, an English cabaret performer who carries on a torrid and troubled romance with Cliff Bradshaw, an American writer, in Nazi-occupied Berlin during the early 1930s.

Production company with Peri Gilpin

Thanks to their success on Frasier, Leeves and her fellow female lead Peri Gilpin (who played Roz Doyle, the producer of Frasier's radio show), decided to take charge of Hollywood on their own and start their own production company. The two founded Bristol Cities, which Leeves later confessed was a dirty Cockney rhyme.

The company's most notable project was intended to be the American remake of the popular and beloved British series The Vicar of Dibley, which the two produced in 2007. The original, which ran for four years in the 1990s on BBC One (with a series of specials in the years since), focused on a small fictional English village called Dibley and its female vicar (which was notable in the 1990s, after the Church of England began permitting women to be ordained). With star Kirstie Alley and producer Richard Curtis on board, it seemed a surefire success, but Fox, where it was supposed to air, ended up passing on the pilot.

Return to television comedy

The 2000s saw Gilpin maintaining a presence on television, beginning with a two-episode arc on Desperate Housewives as Dr. Graham, a therapist who helps Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant) with their relationship problems. Much more recently, she's also appeared on Fox's medical drama The Resident — after being featured in the first season as a recurring cast member, she was promoted to a series regular for the second season, playing orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kitt Voss.

However, her biggest post-Frasier gig has undoubtedly been her leading role on Hot in Cleveland as Joy Scroggs, a forty-something former "eyebrow artist to the stars." The series, which aired on TV Land for 128 episodes between 2010 and 2015, also starred Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White, and Wendie Malick, the last of whom was also Leeves' co-star during later seasons of Frasier, and it told the story of four best friends from Los Angeles who end up making a new life in Cleveland. Former Frasier cast members Peri Gilpin and John Mahoney also guest starred on the show, which was well-received, earning SAG and Emmy nominations throughout its run.

Marriage & family life

In 1996, Leeves married Marshall Coben, a television executive, and when she became pregnant with her first child, Isabella, during her time on Frasier, the writers adapted quickly, writing her pregnancy into a plot that found the character gaining weight thanks to her stressful relationship with Niles. The couple's second child, Finn, was born in 2003.

Leeves' pregnancy being a part of Frasier isn't the only impact that the show had on her family life. Peri Gilpin and Leeves have been close friends for a number of years, and not only was Gilpin present at the birth of Leeves' daughter, she is Isabella's godmother (while Leeves serves as godmother to Gilpin's daughter, Stella), and the two former co-workers live next door to each other. When Leeves' son Finn was born, she named John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce as his godfathers, proving that the relationships on Frasier went far beyond the set and, truly, gave many of the cast members relationships that would go on to become the foundation for a real-life family.