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The Best Of Frasier's Secret Call-In Guests

While Kelsey Grammer's Dr. Frasier Crane was initially meant to be a romantic rival to bartender Sam (Ted Danson) when he was introduced on "Cheers," he proved popular enough to score the spinoff sitcom "Frasier." And like "Cheers" before it, the show proved to be a hit. If you're already a "Frasier" fan, this might be old news to you. However, whether you're familiar with the sitcom or not, one thing that may surprise you is that the majority of the most famous guest stars never show up on-screen.

The premise for "Frasier" is that the titular psychiatrist moves back to his hometown of Seattle, Washington, after the conclusion of "Cheers", where he hosts "The Dr. Frasier Crane Show" on the fictional AM radio station KACL. Frasier starts his conversations with each on-air caller with the catch phrase "I'm listening," and he usually comes to regret not only listening but picking up the phone at all. Ironically, while the plots of the episodes don't often revolve around Frasier's callers, it's these scenes where many of the show's most well-known guests can be found. Almost all of Frasier's callers are famous actors, comedians, fashion designers, musical composers, and more.

A lot of KACL's listeners provide some of the biggest laughs for "Frasier," and you'll laugh even harder when you realize exactly who's on the phone with Dr. Crane. So we thought we'd go through the long list the series' secret call-in guests and find you some of the best.

Christopher Reeve was afraid to go outside

A lot of the best celebrity calls on "Frasier" come as early as its inaugural season, including in the series' second episode. The late Christopher Reeve — best known for his portrayal of DC Comics' alpha male superhero in four films beginning with 1978's "Superman" — voices a caller named Leonard who quickly learns one of Frasier's biggest flaws. 

The last thing you want in a therapist — or a therapeutic talk show host — is someone who makes it all about themselves, but that's exactly what Frasier does in Season 1's "Space Quest" (along with quite a few other episodes). Struggling with his new living arrangement with his father, Frasier asks his listeners to only call in if they have something to say on the subject of intrusion — a crime for which he feels his father is guilty. Leonard has nothing to add to the subject, but instead, he's struggling with an irrational fear he's developed of going outside, saying he hasn't seen another person in eight months. Frasier is annoyed with Leonard, telling him his issue is too serious to get into while adding a half-hearted, "You are not alone." Leonard correctly reminds Frasier, "But I am alone, Dr. Crane."

It's that much funnier when you consider the call is coming from the guy known for playing the Man of Steel. We guess it brings new meaning to the name "Fortress of Solitude."

John Lithgow was sneaky when he called Frasier

Frasier is very concerned when the local used car salesman known as Madman Martinez calls in seemingly depressed in Season 2's "Someone to Watch Over Me." Madman seems confused about why he's depressed, implying he shouldn't be because he's a "successful guy." Frasier asks him about the source of his depression, and that opens the floodgates. 

Madman says he thinks he's depressed because business is suffering, and he just can't understand why. After all, as he explains to Frasier, he just "slashed prices," and he has an "'88 Olds Cutlass ... in rare turquoise metallic, cordoba roof," and he proceeds to list several other accessories. It soon becomes clear that Madman is simply using Frasier's show to get some free advertising. 

The opportunistic Madman Martinez is voiced by John Lithgow, and "Someone to Watch Over Me" wouldn't be his final contribution to the sitcom genre. The year after that episode aired, Lithgow starred in his own hit sitcom, "3rd Rock from the Sun," playing an alien in disguise alongside a cast that included a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Kevin Bacon gets Roz excited

When Frasier abruptly hands off a caller to Roz (Peri Gilpin) in Season 2's "Adventures in Paradise, Part 2," she isn't happy about it ... at first. The caller, Vic, is in the middle of telling Frasier about his problems with women when the doctor's new love interest, Madeline (JoBeth Williams), calls him up. Desperate to talk to her, Frasier takes the call off the air and has Roz do his job for him.

It doesn't take long before Roz changes her tune about covering for Frasier. After asking Vic to tell her more about his problem, Roz rolls her eyes, but then comes Vic's answer. He mentions having a "good job" but then adds, "'Course I made more money when I was modeling." Serial dater Roz perks up at this, and she's intrigued when Vic adds, "But I'm doing okay at the law firm." Taking on a much more inviting tone, Roz says, "Tell me more." 

Vic is voiced by Mr. Six Degrees himself, Kevin Bacon. Sadly, Roz is about six years too late. Bacon was married in 1988 to actress Kyra Sedgwick of "The Closer" fame. 

A sick Frasier takes a few celebrity calls that go badly

In Season 1's penultimate episode, "Frasier Crane's Day Off," a bout of the flu keeps Frasier at home. First KACL's resident food critic, Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert), and then Frasier's brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), fill in for him. As Niles proves a popular substitute, the ailing Frasier grows more and more paranoid he'll lose his job to his younger brother. Eventually, Frasier's worried enough that, still sick and loopy from flu medication, he goes to KACL, tricks Niles and Roz out of the booth, and briefly takes back the reins of his show.

The first call is from Robert, voiced by fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. Frasier hangs up on him abruptly, explaining, "I'm sorry, we've already had a Robert on the show today." The next caller is Janice, voiced by Patricia Hearst, who's best known as the 1974 kidnapping victim of the Symbionese Liberation Army. When she tells Frasier she's calling because she's having trouble "breaking through a barrier" with her in-laws, the doctor quickly hangs up on her while proclaiming, "Boring!" The final call is from the late sitcom star Mary Tyler Moore. Playing the unappreciated office worker Marjorie, she's actually inspired by Frasier's response to her troubles, but it's just as she's expressing her new outlook that Frasier is dragged away by security. 

Working the graveyard shift brings Frasier some interesting calls

The status quo for "The Dr. Frasier Crane Show" gets shaken up with the arrival of KACL's new station manager, Kate Costas (Mercedes Ruehl), in the Season 3 premiere "She's the Boss," and it leads to a whole new level of celebrity caller. When Frasier refuses to take Costas' advice about making changes to his show, she banishes Frasier and Roz to the midnight-to-4 AM time slot. 

The show's new graveyard shift includes Tom Hulce — best known as the actor who earned an Oscar nod for playing the eponymous composer in 1984's "Amadeus" — calling in as a donut baker and Matthew Broderick calling as Mark, a mini-mart clerk who expresses concern not over what he's doing but what his image in the mini-mart's security camera is doing. The final call of the episode is from Teri Garr as Nancy, who claims she's naked and seems excited at the prospect of a spanking.

But the absolute winning call of "She's the Boss" goes to Carrie Fisher as Phyllis, who complains to Frasier — who's fallen asleep — about her crippling insomnia. When Frasier finally wakes up, without having any idea of what the caller has said, he tells his insomniac caller, "My advice is to sleep on it." Rest assured, the actress known for playing Princess Leia gets in a "you've got to help me, Dr. Crane" before she hangs up, though sadly, she never says he's her only hope.  

On Christmas, Frasier gets a bunch of depressing callers

Season 1's "Miracle on Third or Fourth Street" finds Frasier deep in the holiday blues when it turns out he won't be able to see his son, Frederick. Characteristically, Frasier turns to his job to keep his mind off his woes by asking his callers for stories of "the Christmas spirit." Instead, Frasier and his producer Roz are seriously bummed out by some of the most depressing calls they've ever received.

First on the line is Don, voiced by actor Eric Stoltz, who tries to sell a story about the time he refrained from forcing a homeless man to give him back his gym sneakers as one of joy and inspiration. Ben Stiller's Barry calls next. We never even hear Barry's problem. We only hear his endless sobbing and his apologies for the sobbing. Two such crying jags are interrupted by Gladys, voiced by the late singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, whose main problem seems to be she can't stop falling in the shower. 

The final call comes from none other than comedy legend Mel Brooks. As Tom, he not only wins the contest for most depressing call on the episode but perhaps the biggest downer call in the entire series. Tom says he's traumatized by the Christmas morning he wailed to his mother, "Mommy! Mommy! The puppy Santa gave me won't wake up!"

Mulder and Scully both call in for advice

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully of "The X-Files" remain one of the most iconic detective pairings in the history of television, even though rather than just solving murders, they were usually investigating things like UFOs, vampires, and psychics. And both of the actors who make up the pair — David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson — got a chance to put in a call to the fictional KACL, though separated by three years. 

Duchovny's call as Tom opens up Season 3's "Frasier Loves Roz" with a "problem" that Frasier has trouble taking seriously as an actual difficulty. Tom and his girlfriend of six years continue to have an active sex life, but he's worried it's their physical relationship that keeps them together and that they have noting else in common. When Frasier asks Tom to elaborate on their sex life, the caller answers, "Every morning, night, three times a day on weekends." Frasier doles out some advice, Tom tells him to "have a great weekend," and Frasier answers, "I'd wish you the same, but it hardly seems necessary."

When Gillian Anderson's Jenny calls up in Season 6's "Dr. Nora," she has a very different experience. Frasier recommends Dr. Nora Fairchild (Christine Baranski) to KACL for a new show. But he's horrified when Nora starts her program by telling Jenny, her very first caller, that since she's sleeping with a man she's not married to, she's essentially a sex worker (but she uses a less friendly word than we do).

Bill Paxton needs help from Frasier with his talking dog

Who doesn't love their dog? Well, in "Analyzed Kiss," the penultimate episode of Season 10, Ernie — voiced by the late Bill Paxton — isn't a fan of his dog, and his reason is hilarious.

The episode opens with Ernie's call, which probably wouldn't have come through if Roz had been doing her job. When Frasier asks her who the next caller is, he turns to see her busy on the phone with someone else. So, Frasier takes the reins himself, and he comes to regret it pretty quickly. Ernie tells Frasier he's angry at his dog. Sympathetic to Ernie's plight, Frasier explains that when people get angry at their pets, it "often reflects feelings they have about themselves and their place in society."

When Frasier goes on to ask Ernie why he's angry at his dog, the caller very matter-of-factly answers, "Well, he keeps telling me to take off my foil helmet." It's an answer that Frasier is clearly not ready for, and he puts Ernie on hold to wait for the number of "an expert in those sort of situations." We didn't know Roz had the number for Dr. Doolittle, but apparently, she does.

Malcolm McDowell is the voice of a sleazy psychiatrist

Season 1's "Give Him the Chair!" opens not with a caller looking for help but with a guest psychiatrist whose latest book Frasier claims knocked his "mental socks off." The psychiatrist and author is Dr. Helmut Bruga, whose fame in the head-shrinking community is seemingly only surpassed by the size of his ego. As soon as he's on the air, he lets Frasier know he enjoys his show, though he "does not, in most cases, agree with" Frasier's analyses. 

While Frasier probes Dr. Bruga with insightful questions about his book, the doctor ignores him, clearly more interested in getting to know Roz better. He interrupts Frasier in the middle of a sentence to say, "You have a very sensuous voice" — a compliment Frasier mistakenly believes is meant for him. Even when Frasier cuts his discussion short, Dr. Bruga says, "You will give Roz my number?" to which Frasier pointedly replies, "Oh, I think Roz has your number."

Behind the phony Austrian accent is Malcolm McDowell, who's often cast in the roles of villains. In spite of a long and prolific acting career, he remains most famous for the role of the lead Alex in the 1971 dystopian classic "A Clockwork Orange." 

Joe Mantegna wants knock Frasier out

While the celebrity callers usually don't have a huge impact on the rest of the show, "I Hate Frasier Crane" — Season 1's fourth episode — is a noteworthy exception. Early in the story, Niles is tickled by the public flogging Frasier is getting by newspaper columnist Derek Mann. Frasier ends his next radio show by blasting Mann for his column, and the following day, Mann responds in kind in the newspaper. Once again, Frasier insults the columnist, cleverly referring to him as "half a Mann," and that's the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. 

Derek Mann calls in to Frasier's show and — tired of the witty back and forth — challenges Frasier to a fistfight. Mann is voiced by Joe Mantegna, who dials up the same kind of tough guy persona he showed a few years earlier in "The Godfather Part III." Frasier is clearly terrified at the idea of being in a fistfight, but he's eventually shamed by his father, Marty (John Mahoney), into going forward with it. 

Thankfully, Marty has a change of heart and uses his connections in the police force to have the fight stopped without embarrassing his son. It's probably a good thing since, while we never see Mann in person, Frasier and company are shocked by how large he is. Frasier looks terrified when Niles points Mann out, while Daphne (Jane Leeves) exclaims, "My God, you could show a movie on his back!"

Gary Sinise is afraid of talking to strangers

Often, "Frasier" episodes open with a celebrity caller to start things off with the proverbial bang. One such episode is Season 2's "The Club," which begins with Gary Sinise — known for his wonderful performances in films like "Forrest Gump" and "Apollo 13" — calling in to Frasier's radio show as Sid, a man with an unfortunate condition that nevertheless manifests in a hilarious way.

In a monotone voice, Sid explains that he suffers from "a terrible fear of talking on the phone." Taken aback by Sid's robotic tone, Frasier asks if Sid is reading what he's saying, and in response, we hear papers shuffling. It's soon clear that Sid has tried to anticipate every question he might be forced to answer, writing down prepared responses because, otherwise, he can't bear to say it on the phone. When Frasier asks the natural question, "What if someone asks you a question you haven't anticipated?" he quickly gets his answer. Sid sighs, shuffles his papers some more, and finally says, "Thank you Dr. Crane, for your most insightful comments. Goodbye." 

The exchange is so flustering for Frasier that Sid's condition winds up being a bit contagious, and he stumbles all over his own words while ending the program.  

After Stanley Tucci calls Frasier, his entire family gets in on the action

For its 11th and final season, "Frasier" opened the episode "Frasier-Lite" with not just one caller or a series of individual callers but an entire family of celebrity callers, all angrily interrupting each other. 

The call starts off with Morrie, voiced by Stanley Tucci, who's frustrated with his wife for constantly accusing him of infidelity. We hear banging on a door, and Morrie yells, "I'm in the bathroom, Celeste!" That's not good enough for Celeste, and soon, she's picked up another phone on the same line, assuring Morrie she knows he's on the phone with whoever he's cheating on her with. Celeste is voiced by "Laverne & Shirley" actress and acclaimed director Penny Marshall. When Frasier tries to explain what's going on, Celeste yells, "A man? It's worse than I thought!"

Soon, character actress Estelle Parsons is on the line as Celeste's mother, complaining that she can hear them all on the radio. Finally, Britney the embarrassed daughter, voiced by former teen idol Hilary Duff, picks up yet another phone, announcing that she's running away because she can't stand all the yelling. When Morrie tells her she's "going nowhere," Frasier responds, "Neither is this conversation," and he hangs up on the lot of them.