Who is David Hyde Pierce?
David Hyde Pierce is a seasoned American stage and screen actor, who has also made his mark as voice actor and director. He is well-known for portraying psychiatrist ‘Dr. Niles Crane’ in the series ‘Frasier.’ The performance earned him fame and won him several awards, including four ‘Primetime Emmy Awards.’ He has featured in the series ‘The Powers That Be’ and the film ‘Jackie's Back.’ Pierce has also starred films ‘The Perfect Host’ and ‘Wet Hot American Summer,’ Oscar-winning short ‘The Appointments of Dennis Jennings,’ and essayed supporting roles in films ‘Nixon’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ He has also lent his voice in films ‘Treasure Planet’ and ‘A Bug's Life.’ Pierce has established himself as an acclaimed stage-actor as well; his stage performances include ‘Spamalot’, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and ‘Curtains.’ The latter won him a Tony Award. He has also directed plays ‘It Shoulda Been You’ and ‘Ripcord.’
Childhood & Early Life
David Hyde Pierce was born David Pierce on April 3, 1959, in Saratoga Springs, New York, US, to aspiring actor George Hyde Pierce and insurance agent Laura Marie (née Hughes).
During his childhood, Pierce often played organ at the local Bethesda Episcopal Church. He attended ‘Yale University’; he acted in and directed different students productions. He featured in the comic opera ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ produced by the Yale Gilbert & Sullivan Society. During his Yale days, he also featured in plays like ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, ‘Saint Joan,’ and ‘Waiting for Godot.’ He also directed the operetta ‘Princess Ida,’ which was produced by the ‘Gilbert & Sullivan Society.’
To avoid confusion with another actor of the same name, Pierce later added a middle name ‘Hyde’ so as to avoid any confusion.
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Pierce relocated to New York City following his graduation. He took up acting in the early 1980s and attended ‘Michael Howard Studios.’ Simultaneously, he did several odd jobs till early 1990s, including working as security guard and selling ties at Bloomingdale's.
In his initial theatre projects, he played ‘Laertes’ in popular off-Broadway production of Shakespearean tragedy ‘Hamlet.’ He made his Broadway debut in 1982 with ‘Beyond Therapy.’
In 1988, credited as David Pierce, he featured as a ‘Businessman’ in the Oscar winning short-comedy film ‘The Appointments of Dennis Jennings.’ Thereafter he did trivial roles in other films before starring as Garth Emmerick in the critically and commercially successful 1991 family-drama film ‘Little Man Tate.’
His first substantial television role was that of ‘Theodore Van Horne’ in the NBC sitcom ‘The Powers That Be’ (1992–1993).
His real breakthrough came with the role of psychiatrist ‘Dr. Niles Crane,’ the younger brother of psychiatrist ‘Frasier Crane’ (played by Kelsey Grammer), in the sitcom ‘Frasier.’ The series, a spin-off of ‘Cheers,’ continued the story of Frasier Crane from ‘Cheers.’ The role of ‘Niles Crane’ was created for Pierce for his close physical resemblance to Grammer.
He appeared in all 11 seasons of ‘Frasier,’ from September 16, 1993, to May 13, 2004. Through its run, Pierce received ‘Primetime Emmy’ nomination for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series’ for a record 11 years in a row and won the award in 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2004. The performance won him many other awards, including a ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ and five ‘Golden Globe’ nominations.
Meanwhile, he starred with Anthony Hopkins in the 1995 epic-historical-drama film ‘Nixon.’ Pierce also appeared in the Tom Hanks starrer hit rom-com ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993), ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (2001), and ‘Down With Love’ (2003).
He has also lent his voice to the walking insect ‘Slim’ in the 1998 computer-animated comedy film ‘A Bug's Life’ and to ‘Doctor Doppler’ in the 2002 animated sci-fi action-adventure film ‘Treasure Planet.’
He was conferred with an honorary degree from Skidmore College in 1999, and an honorary ‘Doctor of Fine Arts’ degree from ‘Niagara University’ on November 19, 2007.
Pierce has done a lot of work on stage as well. He won a ‘Tony Award’ (2007) and bagged a ‘Drama Desk Award’ nomination for his performance as ‘Lieutenant Frank Cioffi’ in ‘Curtains’ (2007–2008). He also received ‘Tony Award’ nomination for plays ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ (2013) and ‘Hello, Dolly!’ (2017–2018), and ‘Drama Desk Award’ nomination for ‘Spamalot’ (2005–2006) and ‘A Life’ (2016).
In 2015, Pierce directed Broadway production of the musical ‘It Shoulda Been You’ and off-Broadway production of ‘Ripcord.’
Family & Personal Life
Pierce has been with writer and producer Brian Hargrove since the early 1980s. The two married on October 24, 2008, in California, just a couple of days before ‘Proposition 8’ was adopted as law, which banned same-sex marriages in California. Pierce expressed his annoyance on approval of ‘Proposition 8’ while appearing as guest on ‘The View’ on May 28, 2009, where he also announced his marriage to Hargrove.
He is a godparent of Finn, son of Frasier co-star Jane Leeves. He has worked with Alzheimer's Association for years. He has campaigned for the ‘National Alzheimer's Project Act’ and was present in Washington, D.C., to testify in support of fund expansion for treatment.