Friday, April 03, 2009

'Niles Crane' Turns 50

Today is David Hyde Pierce's 50th birthday. He played Niles Crane on "Frasier," and he gave a solid performance as John Dean in Oliver Stone's film "Nixon."

Pierce is also gay — a fact that was not publicly acknowledged until after the "Frasier" series concluded.

During the 11–year run of "Frasier," there were rumors about Pierce's sexual orientation — but, possibly because his character was infatuated with Daphne, that fact was downplayed.

There were hints, however, such as his conversation with Frasier in the finale of the first season, when Niles said "Wow!" upon seeing Roz's coffee companion.

And there were more blatant moments when Niles' sexuality was implied, like the time in the second season when Frasier tried to set up Daphne with his new station manager, who turned out to be gay. Check out the expression on Frasier's face near the end of the clip when Tom asks him about Niles ...

... or the time in the final season when Frasier and Niles, who were under the impression that Roz's boyfriend was in the closet, found themselves at a gay bar while trying to have a word with the young man.

Well, the fact is that two of the most notoriously straight characters on the show — Niles and "Bulldog" (played by Dan Butler) — are gay in real life. And both are in long–term, monogamous relationships.

Sexual orientation has no bearing on talent, though, and neither does age.

Pierce is a talented actor. Happy birthday, Niles.