David Hyde Pierce was born today, April 3, in1959. He is an actor and director. He is widely 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.
Pierce also has appeared on and directed for the stage. He has two won Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in the musical Curtains (2007) and Hello Dolly! (2017).
Pierce was born David Pierce in Saratoga Springs, New York. He added his middle name "Hyde" to avoid confusion with another actor named David Pierce.
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. Among other roles Pierce played at Yale were in Waiting for Godot, Saint Joan, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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.
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. Despite positive reviews from critics, the show was canceled after a brief run.
In part, due to his close physical resemblance to Kelsey Grammer, the producers of the Cheers spin-off Frasier created the role of Niles Crane (Frasier Crane's younger brother) for him. 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. 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.
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. 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 his role in Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Pierce played the brother of Meg Ryan's character, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. The movie was released three months before the start of Frasier. In 2001, he starred in the cult 1981-set summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer, as the befuddled astrophysicist, Prof. Henry Newman.
In 2005, Pierce joined Tim Curry and others in the stage production of Spamalot. 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.
Pierce directed the Broadway production of the musical It Shoulda Been You. In 2015 he directed the Manhattan Theater Club production of David Lindsay-Abaire's play Ripcord Off-Broadway at City Center.
Pierce appears in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! as Horace Vandergelder. The musical opened on April 20, 2017 at the Shubert Theatre.
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's and Niles's father in the show) voices Dr. Robert Terwilliger, Sr., the father of Cecil and Sideshow Bob.
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. 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." They married in California on October 24, 2008, just days before Proposition 8 was adopted as law, banning same-sex marriages in the state. 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.
He and the late Frasier co-star John Mahoney are godparents to Frasier co-star Jane Leeves' son, Finn.
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."