Many of you may already know that — despite his professional success — Kelsey Grammer has had a troubled personal and family life. He’s gone through four marriages, he’s had health problems, and he’s dealt with serious alcohol and substance abuse issues, spending time in both rehab and in jail. In the 1970s, his sister was robbed, raped and murdered by spree killer Freddie Glenn.
But what some people may not know is that Grammer’s two half brothers were also killed in a bizarre scuba diving incident. One of the brothers disappeared in the ocean, and the other went in to rescue him and suffered from a fatal embolism. The first brother’s body was never recovered, and the belief is that he was almost certainly eaten by a shark.
This knowledge was widely known enough that it was included in the research materials for SNL when Grammer hosted the show in 1994. But the thing about those research bios they deliver to the SNL writers is that they are very thick, and the writers often do not read them. But as Jay Mohr — who was a writer on SNL at the time — tells the story, he and Dave Attell (who shared an office) decided to read the packet ahead of Grammer’s hosting gig because they were desperate for inspiration. According to Mohr, the packet included information about his half brother being eaten by a shark and — four years later — his cousin also being eaten by a shark (or at least, that was Mohr’s recollection; there’s no evidence online to support the claim about the cousin).
Anyway, we don’t know the extent of the shark-attack related history with Kelsey Grammer, but there was at least one incident where one of Grammer’s family members was involved in a shark attack, so that would be a sore subject, right? And probably something you’d want to avoid mentioning, right?
Well, as Mohr tells it, during read through, Grammer mentioned to the cast that he always wanted to play a Bond villain.
“So, like, everyone hands in a Bond villain sketch, and read-through is three hours long … it’s long as f*ck and it’s brutal. There were fourteen sketches where he [Grammer] played a Bond villain, twelve of which ended with [Grammer] being eaten by a shark because no one read the bios.
And me and Attell [while they were sitting in the read through] were crying, like when you laugh [so hard that you think] if I don’t stop laughing I’m going to have to go to the emergency room and explain to them it’s just from laughing. We were CRYING.
[And the jokes about the shark attacks] were all like, ‘NO. NOT AGAIN.’
It’s a great story, and not one that’s best relayed in print. I mean, it’s callous as hell, and terrible, but it’s a great story. You can hear him tell the whole story here, and it’s definitely worth a listen: