Maris Crane

Infobox character
colour = gray
name = Maris Crane
born = 1952
resisence = flagicon|USA Seattle, Washington, USA
occupation = Heiress
spouse = Niles Crane (1985 - 1999)

Maris Crane is a fictional character on the American television sitcom "Frasier". She is introduced as Niles Crane's first wife, although they divorce later in the series. She is considered "the doyenne of the Seattle elite". Though often discussed on the show, she is neither seen nor heard (except for one instance, when she was completely covered in bandages and silent.) This allowed the writers to exaggerate her physical characteristics and various neuroses to great comic effect, though according to the writers, they "had" intended Maris to appear in later episodes. After a time, however, they realized it would be impossible to cast an actress to match Maris' description, which had become "too reptile-like" in the words of actor David Hyde Pierce, who portrayed Niles. Having Maris as an unseen character was inspired by Vera Peterson, Norm's oft-mentioned but rarely seen wife on "Cheers". The closest the viewers came to viewing Maris was when her shadow was seen refreshing herself over the sink behind a shower curtain whilst Frasier and Martin watch in silence. There is also a time when Maris was hidden inside a crate, first sipping a diet protein drink out of a straw, then squirting it "back" in.

Background and role in the series

Much of Maris's early background is unknown. A wealthy heiress (her family made their money from urinal cakes but they tell everyone it was from timber) she had a luxurious and privileged upbringing, but seemingly battled body-image issues and eating disorders which continue to plague her in adult life. An entire branch of her family tree was slaughtered by the Huguenots (or so she claimed).

Maris is described as an exceptionally insecure, petty, domineering and generally unpleasant woman, selfish and obsessed with social standing. She is described as being extremely thin and rarely eats, consuming only tiny morsels of food when she does. When she was arrested, there were rumors that she escaped from her cell - Niles cleared it up by saying she dropped something out of her cell, and went to get it. Frasier compares her to a bag of flour: "bleached, 100 percent fat-free and best kept in an air-tight container". Frasier also once sarcastically referred to Maris as "ounces of fun". She is intensely neurotic and suffers from a wide array of medical conditions and phobias. She sleeps with a pearl-handled revolver under her pillow, and has an ocelot as well as several dogs.

Her interests include sensory deprivation, cosmetic surgery, fencing and interpretive dance. She is host of a sherry-tasting group, and plays the autoharp. A dedicated shopaholic, Maris makes an annual pilgrimage to Dallas, site of the first Neiman Marcus store. She also shops at a posh Seattle department store called Bidwell's; she earned enough store money coupons to have Tony Bennett sing for her.

When the series begins, Maris is married to Niles Crane, Frasier's younger brother. Niles met Maris when he stopped his car in front of her house to assist her in getting through a balky security gate. She had been married to him for 12 years by the episode "Are You Being Served?". Nevertheless, she disdains her husband's working class origins and rarely deigns to involve herself in family functions with them. Niles' family and friends dislike Maris greatly.

Even though Maris dominates him, Niles is devoted to his wife. As the series progresses, however, Maris and Niles start drifting apart, partly because Niles begins to fall in love with Daphne Moon, his father's physical therapist. This culminates in a lengthy separation and ultimately an acrimonious and drawn-out divorce initiated by Niles after he discovers Maris is having an affair with their marriage counselor.

Maris repeatedly tries to lure Niles back, but Niles remains firm, prompting Maris to respond with a bitter divorce lawsuit in which she nearly bankrupts Niles financially as well as socially.

After their divorce, Maris is heard from infrequently; on discovering that Niles has begun dating her plastic surgeon, Mel Karnofsky, Maris sinks into a depression and begins binge-eating, swelling to an enormous size. During the last year of the show, Maris is arrested for murdering her then-boyfriend, Esteban DeRojo, though she claims it was in self-defense. Frequently calling on Niles for support, she begins dominating him again until Niles finally puts his foot down and declares that Daphne, his new wife, comes first.

Maris is placed under house arrest but slips off the electronic bracelet and escapes to her private island in the Pacific, to live free from extradition.

Maris' quirks and medical conditions

Among other problems, it is revealed during the series that Maris exhausts easily under the pressure to be interesting, cannot produce saliva, once had a $25,000 face lift and is allergic to roses. She also has abnormally rigid vertebrae, slightly webbed fingers and an underbite. Perfume gives her hives and her skin has no pigmentation. Getting angry causes one of her eyes to twitch.

Foods she claims she cannot eat (due to allergies or other reasons) include shellfish, poultry, red meat, saturated fats, nitrates, wheat, starch, sulfites, MSG, dairy and nuts. She also claims she is hypoglycemic. It is revealed that Maris has an eating disorder.

She has a fear of flying due to a bad experience when she was bumped from first class; she also dislikes public display of rhythm.

She cannot have pets because, according to Niles, she distrusts anything that loves her unconditionally (this contradicts the statement about the ocelot and the dogs, mentioned above).

She is too light to activate a whoopie cushion and is so weak that she once became trapped in a revolving door. She is also so weak that she couldn't activate a clapper light. She once tried to stomp grapes to make wine, dancing herself into a frenzy, but did not crush a single grape. She needs help slamming a door, and does not leave footprints in the snow

She once sprained her wrist from having too much dip on a cracker. In another episode, Niles commented that wearing a pair of the latest hooped-earrings had compressed Maris' spine.

She cannot ride a horse because her quadriceps are so tight she cannot straddle anything larger than a border collie, (this is also later contradicted, in an instance involving chemical bonding, and a horse saddle Niles had bought her, although since she was doing a "Lady Godiva Impression", she may have been riding sidesaddle).

It was alluded to in the season three episode "Where There's Smoke, There's Fired" that she once was addicted to cough syrup.


*" [Through a keyhole]
Roz: I see her coat on a hat rack
Frasier: Look closer, is the hat rack moving?
Roz: Oh, my god!

*" [On a saucy film Niles and Maris watched together] Niles: I don't mind telling you we pushed our beds together that night! And that is no mean feat: her room, as you know, is across the hall.

*" [About dinner reservations] "
Frasier: Will Maris be joining us?
Niles: Sadly, no. She had a bad experience there one Christmas Eve. The Italian soccer team was at the next table, Maris announced that she was in the mood for a goose, and, perhaps inevitably, tragedy ensued.

Frasier: I thought Maris was joining us? Niles: Oh, no. I'm afraid Maris is having one of her episodes. In the middle of dressing for the evening, she suddenly slumped down on the edge of the bed in her half-slip and sighed. Of course, I knew then and there that dinner was not to be.

*" [During an episode of extreme sexual frustration] "
Niles: Right now Maris is slipping out of her frilly underthings and into a non-fat milkbath.
Frasier: Oh yes, she's ounces of fun.

*" [On Maris not being able to have pets] "
Niles: She distrusts anything that loves her unconditionally.

*" [At a banquet] "
Niles: Oh look, Maris has cornered Mrs Beaumont, she's been wanting to discuss getting on the museum board for months. Oh, Mrs Beaumont thinks to escape with the old freshen-the-drink ploy, she obviously has no idea who she's dealing with. That's right Maris, chug that sherry, on with the chase! It's Mrs Beaumont and Maris, coming around the ice sculpture, Mrs Beaumont and Maris, Mrs Beaumont and Maris, and yes, they meet again! (Roz, Frasier, Niles, Martin, and Father Mike all clap.)

*" [Niles finally gets through to Maris on the phone during a citywide blackout] "
Hello, Maris. Thank God I got you. Listen, darling, there is no need to panic. The most important thing is to stay calm... About the blackout. Maris? Take off your slumber mask. [Niles suddenly holds the phone away from his ear] Ooh! No darling, darling, don't panic. Honey, no, honey, hon, ho- ho- h... [turns the phone off and puts it back in his pocket] She's fine.

*" [Niles, Roz and Fraiser are watching out the window of Cafe Nervosa] "
Niles: Look, you see that rotund woman coming out of 'Chock Full o' Donuts'? Watch. Before she gets to her car, she'll finish that bear claw, and then go back in - this is her "third" time.
Roz: You called us over to show us that? It's rude.
Frasier: It's childish. " [He and Roz walk away] "
Niles: It's Maris! " [They come back] "

*" [Niles is watching Maris walk into a deli after Chock Full o' Donuts] "
Niles: Oh, the manager just took the three-foot salami out of the window.

*" [At Frasier's peephole] "
Niles: It's Maris! ... at least I think it is, you need a bigger peephole.

*"When Maris takes refuge on a bed at Frasier's during his party."Niles: I got Maris into Dad's bedroom, but I had to butter her up a bit.
Frasier: I was afraid that narrow doorway might pose a problem.

Niles: She exhausts easily under the pressure to be interesting.

List of References

"The Simpsons" episode "Brother from Another Series" stars Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce as brothers, Bob and Cecil Terwilliger, reminiscent of their roles on "Frasier". According to The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary, writers for this episode ran the script by NBC executives and writers for "Frasier". The only thing they took exception to was a brief scene showing a character named "Maris". Their argument was, "We don't show Maris." To which Kelsey Grammer repeats, "You can never show Maris." One Maris reference remained in the episode:

*Bart [holding Cecil's eyes closed from behind] : Guess who?
Cecil: Maris?


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