“I’ve hung out with English people a long time. I’ve done a lot of Shakespeare—with Americans and Brits and Canadians—and you know, everyone has their own version of what the right accent is, but it seemed to me that I could probably approximate this guy,” Kelsey Grammer explains in an interview regarding his British character in Breaking the Bank.
You’ve likely seen the star light up the screen on the NBC sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. Grammer—the well-known and beloved actor, director, and singer—maintains a clear accent in a number of his character roles, including that of Dr. Frasier Crane.
His portrayal of diverse accents has caused fans to wonder, does Kelsey Grammer actually have an accent, or as an actor, does his dialect on television lack authenticity?
An Imitator from Birth
Kelsey Grammer was born in Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Grammer’s mother had raised him around her own singing and acting, leaving the star to admire her skills.
Grammer would often watch his mother switch in and out of different accents as if it were merely her way of speaking, which ultimately resulted in mimicry as Grammer developed his own depiction of accents at a very young age.
When he was 16, Grammer and his family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the star began to act, sing, and perform on stage. It was there he ended up receiving a scholarship to Juilliard.
Grammer’s Acting Career
Grammer’s time in Julliard wasn’t all he had hoped it to be. Grammer’s sister’s death, among other family devastations, left him expelled from the prestigious school. However, that did not stop him from finding the stage.
He worked his way up through various theatre companies, and soon enough, in 1984, he appeared as Dr. Frasier Crane, who we all know and love today.
In his role as Dr. Crane, Grammer brings forth an accent that is far different from his genuine, American accent. Frasier’s accent is thought of as British in the eyes of his American audience; however, English folks understand that there are a few key differences between his put-on inflection and authentic British pronunciation.
So, What Accent Does Frasier Have?
The accent that Grammer utilizes while in character as Dr. Frasier Crane is what some call the transatlantic/mid-Atlantic accent, which is known to sound like a blend of American and British.
The accent itself didn’t originate in any specific location but instead, was taught throughout New England boarding schools as a way for individuals to sound more intellectual and pompous in the first half of the 20th century.
Does Grammer Actually Have a Transatlantic Accent?
Although he seemingly spent all of his childhood growing up in the United States and did attend Julliard—which is just on the border of New England—Grammer himself does not possess any accent aside from an all-American one.
Fans of the show have always questioned the origin of Frasier Crane’s accent, commenting on it saying,
Is it possible that he just over-enunciates? He doesn’t sound British -exactly-, just like, incredulous?
They’ve even gone as far as to mention their initial assumptions:
I thought it was a snooty Ivy League thing…
Grammer’s character is known to the Frasier audience as an elitist. So, while the role entails playing a highly-educated psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier Crane embodies just that; his accent is merely a nice touch.
Frasier’s accent was most likely written into the script, leaving Grammer to prove the character’s upper-class lifestyle as well as his alumnus background from both Harvard and Oxford University.
The character’s brother Niles also maintains a similar accent and has a well-educated history from both Yale and Cambridge University. Each attended prestigious schools on the East Coast, leaving them both to have posh and conceited attitudes.
Interestingly enough, the boys’ father, Martin, does not display a transatlantic accent, illuminating his unrelated background and his sons’ as the entirety of his life had been in Seattle—where the accent was generally uncommon.
With how incredible of a transatlantic accent Kelsey Grammer can switch into on the big screen, it’s quite a surprise we don’t hear even more accents spilling from the man’s mouth.
Nonetheless, we can rest assured finally having the answer to Frasier Crane’s dialect. While he is a talented actor and spent his entire childhood in preparation for accent depiction, Grammer himself sustains a genuine, one and only American accent.
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