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Frasier Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Spinoff sitcoms don't always have the easiest road to success. Sure, there's the promise of a built-in fanbase, but fans often discover that without the same chemistry of the original show's cast, spinoffs just aren't as fun to watch. Thankfully, that wasn't the case for Frasier. Starring Kelsey Grammer as psychiatrist, radio personality, and former romantic rival to Cheers' Ted Danson, Frasier proved to be one of the most beloved sitcoms of the '90s and early '00s, earning it an impressive 11 seasons. Critics agreed with audiences, and in 2002, Frasier broke The Mary Tyler Moore Show's record for most Emmy wins – a record the series held onto until it was overtaken by HBO's Game of Thrones in 2016.  

That kind of success attracts a lot of talent, both in terms of lesser-known actors and household names. Frasier enjoyed a wealth of both during its 11-year run, including a lot of very famous people you hear but never see. Sadly, a large roster of talent means that there are a lot of actors from Frasier who are no longer with us. Some were only there every now and then, some only showed up once but played integral characters in the leads' lives, and at least a couple of the actors you saw every episode have sadly left us.

For examples of these departed friends, keep reading for Frasier actors you may not know passed away.

Rene Auberjonois showed up Frasier's mentor

While Rene Auberjonois enjoyed a long and successful career as a character actor starting in the mid-'60s — including as the snobbish Clayton Endicott III on the popular ABC comedy series Benson — he's best remembered as the shapeshifting alien security chief Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A couple of years after DS9 shuttered, Aubjeronois made two appearances on Frasier as the lead character's Harvard mentor, Dr. William Tewksbury.

Tewksbury is introduced in season 8's "Frasier's Edge," when the eponymous psychiatrist is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Tewksbury sends Frasier a congratulatory bouquet of flowers with an innocent note that Frasier takes for an insult, triggering him to confront his old professor. Later that season, in "The Wizard and Roz," Frasier is shocked when his producer, Roz (Peri Gilpin), begins dating Tewksbury.

Auberjonois never stopped working, and along with his spot on Frasier, he played many more memorable roles before his passing. He joined fellow Star Trek alum William Shatner on the dramedy Boston Legal, and he had the recurring role of agent Hugo Miller on Syfy's Warehouse 13. He was also a successful voice actor. For example, he provided the voices for numerous villains and heroes on the Justice League animated series, he spoke for Ebony Maw in Avengers Assemble, and he was the mysterious Mr. House in the 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas

Auberjonois died of metastatic lung cancer in 2019. He was 79 years old. 

Bill Gratton played one of Marty's oldest friends

One of the foundations of Marty's (John Mahoney) character is his time with the Seattle PD. Throughout the series, we get to see him with his old friends from the force, and that's where the late Bill Gratton comes in. Bill Gratton plays one of Marty's more vocal old buddies, Leo. He first shows up in season 2's "Duke's, We Hardly Knew Ye," hanging with Marty and company in their favorite bar. He's part of the entourage later that season in "Retirement Is Murder," congratulating Marty on solving a cold case from before his retirement. His final Frasier appearance is in season 5's "Where Every Bloke Knows Your Name," playing cards and — along with Marty's other friends — seriously bumming Roz out about the prospect of her daughter growing up.

While Gratton was never a leading man in Hollywood, he scored numerous one-offs and recurring roles over the years in popular shows like SeinfeldDays of Our LivesHill Street BluesThe Practice, and ER. One of his most visible roles is Earl the plumber in 1999's The Green Mile, where he famously complains about having to wear a tie in prison before watching a performance by an inmate's pet mouse. Tragically, Gratton passed away in 2011 after a long illness at the age of 71.

John LaMotta was Marty's favorite bartender

John LaMotta only had a couple of appearances on Frasier, but he was as a fairly important figure in Marty Crane's life. LaMotta plays Duke, owner and bartender of the establishment named after him. Duke's is Marty's home away from home where, just like for Frasier on Cheers, everybody knows his name. As for the owner himself, we first find Duke tending bar in season 2's "Duke's, We Hardly Knew Ye," when Niles' (David Hyde Pierce) order of sherry doesn't impress Duke very much, regardless of whose son Niles is. He shows up again in season 5's "Where Every Bloke Knows Your Name," playing cards with Marty and his other friends.

Along with playing Rinaldo in the 1985 martial arts action flick American Ninja, LaMotta's most visible role was as Trevor Ochmonek — husband to the incredibly nosy Raquel (played by Liz Sheridan) – on the hit sitcom ALF. While ALF may be what it he was best known for, LaMotta wasn't fond of the sitcom. When TMZ reached out to LaMotta in 2010 about a scandal involving leaked outtake that showed Paul Fusco (ALF's puppet handler and voice) using sexually charged and racist language, LaMotta declined to comment on the scandal but did call the show "a piece of s**t" and named it the "worst work" he'd ever done.  

Per his IMDb page, LaMotta passed away in Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 75.

On Frasier, Robert Loggia played a restaurant owner who terrified Niles

In Frasier's seventh season, "The Three Faces of Frasier" grants Dr. Crane a distinct honor. At one of Seattle's most prestigious restaurants — known for adorning the walls with caricatures of the city's most famous residents — Frasier is given his own portrait. Unfortunately, the recreation of Frasier includes a humungous forehead, something the psychiatrist has a difficult time letting go of. The owner of the restaurant who unveils the offending caricature is one of the most celebrated actors to ever appear on Frasier. Stefano — the same man whose scolding of Niles as a child so traumatized him that he refuses to return to the restaurant as an adult — is played by the late Oscar-nominated actor Robert Loggia

Loggia enjoyed a long career as a character actor beginning in 1951 and earned a long list of impressive credits during his time in Hollywood. He earned a reputation for playing gruff bad guys, and some of the roles he's most known for were members of organized crime, like Frank Lopez in the classic 1983 crime drama Scarface and the rebellious "Feech" La Manna in season 5 of The Sopranos. On the other side of the spectrum, he's remembered fondly as the toy company owner MacMillan in the 1988 comedy Big, in which he famously performs "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks" on a giant foot-operated electronic keyboard with Tom Hanks.

Loggia died in 2015, after a "five year battle with Alzheimer's" (via USA Today). He was 85.

Jack Sydow and Rosemary Murphy were Niles' neighbors

Together, Jack Sydow and Rosemary Murphy appear twice on Frasier as the Larkins — a married couple Niles is initially desperate to impress when he gets a new apartment in season 4's "To Kill a Talking Bird." Unfortunately, Niles' newly acquired white bird that refuses to leave his head puts a damper on their get-together, in spite of Frasier's best efforts to cover for his brother. The pair appear again in season 6's "Taps at the Montana," where Niles' failure to impress his neighbors inspires the condo board to rescind his lease.

Murphy may very well have been cast in "To Kill a Talking Bird" as a nod to her most well-known role. In 1962, she appeared as Finch family friend Maudie Atkinson in the acclaimed film adaptation To Kill A Mockingbird. Murphy worked steadily from the late '40s until 2010, when she made her final on-screen appearance in the rom-com The Romantics. She was 89 when she passed from cancer in 2014.

While Sydow's list of movie and TV credits are few and far between, he was a celebrated stage actor and director on and off Broadway, receiving a Tony nomination for the 1967 production of Annie Get Your Gun. Sydow passed away in 2010 at the age of 88. 

Alice Playten was briefly Marty's girlfriend

In season 6 of Frasier, the late Alice Playten plays the role of Bonnie — Marty's new love interest. Frasier tries to set his father up with Roz's mother, Joanna (Eva Marie Saint), but Marty has his eye on Bonnie instead. However, he breaks things off in the two-part season finale "Shutout in Seattle" after Bonnie's dog has a, well, rendezvous with Marty's dog, Eddie, in the park, which Marty finds humiliating.

Known for her high, somewhat childlike voice, Playten was a prolific voice actor. In both incarnations of the '90s animated series Doug, for example, she played multiple roles, most memorably the purple-skinned redhead Beebe Bluff. Among other animated projects, she worked on three mid-'80s My Little Pony TV movies, and on the other side of the content spectrum, she was the sexy Pentagon secretary, Gloria, in the 1981 cult classic Heavy Metal. She also enjoyed a good amount of work in live-action productions like Frasier. She had small roles in movies like the 1994 rom-com I.Q. and one-offs on shows like Law & Order and Third Watch. Perhaps her most prominent live-action film role finds her under a mountain of makeup as the evil goblin Blix in the 1985 fantasy film Legend.

Playten passed away in 2011 at the age of 63 after a lifetime of dealing with juvenile diabetes and complications from pancreatic cancer. 

Bob Hoskins traumatized Frasier at a young age

One common sitcom trope that often finds a home on Frasier is one where the main character finds what seems like the perfect romantic partner except for one unavoidable flaw. For example, in one of Frasier's cringier moments, the titular shrink is on cloud nine with his new girlfriend, Mia (Rita Wilson), in the season 7 premiere "Momma Mia" ... until he realizes she's the spitting image of his late mother. Likewise, in season 10's "Trophy Girlfriend," things are going well with Frasier's new partner, Chelsea (Jeanne Tripplehorn), but their romance takes a bizarre turn when Chelsea's job as a gym teacher inspires painful flashbacks for Frasier of the abusive, cigar-chomping Coach Fuller, played by the late Bob Hoskins. 

To American audiences, Hoskins is likely most remembered as private eye Eddie Valiant from 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit or perhaps — particularly to American gamers — as Mario in the disastrous 1993 Super Mario Bros. film adaptation. But across the pond, Hoskins was a regular, critically acclaimed feature on the big screen and the small one, appearing in BBC series and British films like the 1980 gangster drama The Long Good Friday. Hoskins appeared regularly in gangster projects, and director Brian De Palma planned to cast him as Chicago mobster Al Capone in 1987's The Untouchables if Robert De Niro declined the role (via Metro).

Hoskins died in April 2014 after a bout with pneumonia. He was 71 years old. 

Some of Frasier's callers are no longer with us

There were a lot more stars "appearing" on Frasier than you may realize. Of course, some of the biggest names on the series weren't there in person, but instead, they showed up as the troubled callers on Frasier's radio show. Sadly, there are a number of these incognito guests who are no longer with us. 

One example comes very early in the series, in the second episode, "Space Quest." Frasier receives a call from a man named Leonard who's afraid to leave his home. The undiagnosed agoraphobe is voiced by the late Christopher Reeve, who's remembered fondly for his film role as Superman in four movies ... some of which were better than others.

Later in the season, it isn't an actor but the late counterculture psychologist and writer Timothy Leary — known as an early advocate for the use of psychedelic drugs for better mental health — who's the first voice you hear in "The Show Where Lilith Comes Back." Leary plays Hank, a caller concerned with his overeating.

The late sitcom star Mary Tyler Moore plays a caller named Marjorie in the first season's penultimate episode, "Frasier Crane's Day Off," when she has the bad luck of calling when a sick, over-medicated Frasier has taken his show back too early from his brother Niles. Marjorie's conversation about her issues with her boss is cut off when security comes to take Frasier away.

Marsha Kramer played the Story Lady

KACL — the AM radio station where Frasier works in the series — is the professional home to many eccentric characters and unusual programs. For example, there's "The Gonzo Sports Show," hosted by the loud and rude sports fanatic "Bulldog" Briscoe (Dan Butler), and then there's "Restaurant Beat," hosted by the pompous food critic Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert). Among the station's talent is a woman often mentioned but rarely seen. Tooty the Story Lady — host of KACL's "Storytime Theater" — comes up a lot in Frasier, but we don't meet her until halfway through the series when the station changes formats, throwing all of its on-air talent into crisis. Tooty is portrayed by the late Marsha Kramer 

Most of Kramer's TV credits were for small recurring roles or one-offs in series like NewhartCheers, and Touched by an Angel. She was also a theater actress who shared the stage with Sandy Duncan during the 1979 Broadway production of Peter Pan. Her last on-screen performance proved to be one of her most visible. On the hit sitcom Modern Family, Kramer played the recurring role of Margaret — Jay's (Ed O'Neill) assistant. 

Per Deadline, Kramer passed away at the age of 74 in January 2020. Modern Family director Jeff Greenberg tweeted a sweet tribute to Kramer, writing, "She was so delightful in the 14 eps she shot as Margaret on Modern Family over the last 7 yrs, but I'll always remember her soaring aloft as Wendy to Sandy Duncan's Peter Pan."

With John Mahoney's passing, the world lost a beloved actor

On the surface, the late John Mahoney's Marty Crane has little in common with his sons. He doesn't have their long lists of degrees, he couldn't care less about the Seattle elite that Frasier and Niles are always bending over backward to impress, and he's a lot less careful about what he says or how he says it. But Frasier wouldn't have been the same without him. As different as he may be from his sons, his love for them is tangible, and their back and forth is priceless. 

Mahoney began his acting career later in life, not studying the art until he was 37. Clearly, while he made the choice later, it was a good choice regardless. He would go on to make big splashes not only in Frasier but in memorable films like the 1987 rom-com Moonstruck, the 1991 Coen brother film Barton Fink, and the 1996 legal thriller Primal Fear.

Mahoney passed away in February 2018 of multiple health complications, including lung cancer and brain disease. He was 77. His passing was accompanied by many touching online tributes, not only from Frasier co-stars and crew but other famous actors whose love and respect Mahoney had earned over the years. Perhaps the simplest and most heartbreaking words came from Kelsey Grammer, who tweeted a picture of him hugging Mahoney along with the words, "He was my father. I loved him."

Sadly, Moose has crossed the rainbow bridge to the recliner in the sky

Who could forget Marty's best friend, Eddie? When Marty moves in, the adorable Jack Russell Terrier is perhaps the only thing Frasier likes less than his father's recliner, and Eddie responds to his new living arrangements with the unnerving habit of giving his owner's son long, hard stares. Eddie provided plenty of laughs on the show, and for most of the series, he was played by a dog named Moose. Kelsey Grammer even jokingly credited the dog for the series' success while accepting his 1994 Emmy award for Best Actor in a Comedy, saying, "Most important, Moose, this is for you."

Part of Moose's charm was a mischievous nature, and according to his trainer, Mathilde de Cagny, that's exactly what got him in show biz in the first place. De Cagny told The Pet Press that Moose was driving his original owners even more nuts than Moose ever did to Frasier, and he was given to Birds and Animals Unlimited, a company specializing in training animals for entertainment, and eventually to De Cagny.

Sadly, Moose crossed the rainbow bridge at the age of 16. We hope there was an old recliner waiting for him and maybe a warm lap.