2,977 people died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001, and Frasier co-creator David Angell was among the victims. Via Deadline, the show’s star Kelsey Grammer has recalled the moment he learned that his friend and coworker had perished, saying, “It is a day of loss that I always remember.”
Frasier first met Angell when he joined Cheers as a staff writer in 1983, and the pair continued to collaborate until his death. On 9/11, Angell and his wife Lynn were traveling from Cape Cod to Los Angeles, when they boarded American Airlines flight 11 out of Boston. Fifteen minutes after takeoff, the plane was hijacked, and about 45 minutes later it collided with the World Trade Center North Tower.
According to Grammer, “I was awakened by a friend of mine who lives in New York. He said, ‘They got us, they got us, they’ve taken out the World Trade towers.’ I turned on the TV and saw what was going on. I remember I’d invited David and his wife to come to a party that weekend; I spoke to him on Saturday. He said, ‘Oh, we were going to come home but we decided we’d stay an extra couple of days. We’re going to come back on Tuesday.’“
He added, “I seem to remember saying to myself, oh, Lord, I hope that isn’t the flight he was going to take home, and then of course I found out that it was.”
Production halted on Frasier, and Grammer chartered a plane to New York City where he visited Ground Zero. “I ended up bumping into James Belushi there. We spent some time with firemen as they pulled a couple of bodies out of the rubble. That was a very tough day. A nurse came out and said, ‘Will you guys go visit the morgue? There’s no good news here. It might make people feel good to see you there.’ We did that and said hello to the doctors and thanked them. It was a pretty difficult time, but I was glad I went. It was just part of our mourning.”
Alongside the rest of the Frasier cast and crew, Grammer celebrated Angell at a tribute held after production resumed. “There was a gathering that was put together by the other producers where people got up and spoke about him,” Grammer said. “He was a terrific writer. He was also a really nice guy. It was great to know him, and so losing him was something everybody felt like a gut shot.”
Grammer picked out an anecdote that demonstrated Angell’s kindness and dedication to his craft. “I always remember we’d sneak into the coffee shop and talk about what was wrong with the show, just the two of us. We had a nice open dialogue of what we thought was the right way for the characters to go and stuff like that,” he said. “There was one show that we were doing together that I took it very personally. I thought Frasier’s relationship with his dad was the best it’d ever been. Suddenly they both found out they’d been betrayed by their wives. Frasier for the first time was finding out that his mother had actually cheated on his dad, and that his dad had never really said anything. They always thought it was dad that went outside the marriage, and it sort of broke Frasier’s heart. I remember thinking it was okay to end on a bittersweet note. David came up and said, ‘I respect that but it’s still a comedy. We have to do something a little different.’ He always knew what show he was writing. He always knew what needed to be funny. He was always very good at making sure the audience was allowed to leave the room with a laugh.”
Tomorrow, Saturday September 11th, will be the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Recently, Steve Buscemi spoke about his experience as a volunteer firefighter clearing out the rubble, saying it “absolutely” left him with PTSD.
Angell’s work continues to resonate to this day. Earlier this year, it was announced that a Frasier reboot will air on Paramount+.