Monday, February 14, 2011

Lilith Sternin


Despite the character's longevity, not much is known about Lilith Sternin. She is Jewish, with a name derived from Hebrew. A remarkably unemotional and restrained woman (her hair usually tightly pulled back in a severe bun), she has exceptionally pale skin, a monotonous voice, and dresses almost exclusively in drab, conservative clothing. She tends to express herself in long-winded, exacting, technical sentences suffused with psychological or medical jargon. Upon greeting the expecting Even though Lilith's first date with Frasier went less well than either had hoped (Frasier remarks that "the closest we came to physical contact was when you closed the car door on my hand!", a foundation for a true relationship was laid down during season 5 in Abnormal Psychology, their second encounter, where Diane and a uselessly reluctant Sam act as the psychiatrists' matchmakers. Among other things, Diane instructs Lilith to untie her bun, thus allowing her hair to fall free. This turns out to be especially irresistible for Frasier, and is apparent when they are guests on a day-time TV psychology talk show: by the end of the show, their inhibitions overcome, Lilith runs her high heel up Frasier's calf, while he does the same thing to her with his balmoral. Much later that day, the two meet at Cheers and offer mutual apologies for their unprofessional behavior. When Lilith is about to leave, however, Diane asks her for her hairpin, because the refrigerator door is "stuck" and a hairpin is needed to open it. Diane's real motive is obvious to a dismissive Frasier, who tells Lilith to "oblige [Diane and Sam]" and remove the hairpin. Frasier first scornfully sees through Diane's attempt to make him react "like Pavlov's dog", but after her hair is down, his lengthy verbal foreplay is soon interrupted by Lilith. On impulse, she launches herself at him and the two psychiatrists share their first longing, impassioned, albeit short kiss, before setting out for Frasier's "tastefully decorated townhouse" to, as Frasier put it, "be animals". It wasn't long before the two fell in love. after marrying, the couple conceived a child. Their son, Frederick Crane, was born during the season 8 episode "The Stork Brings a Crane". He was delivered in a taxicab while Lilith was on her way home from the hospital after an episode of false labor. Lilith tolerated the pain by biting down on one of the cab driver's fuzzy dice. It became clear that her approach to parenting was as frigid and calculating as her scientific research, except she displayed gentle tenderness too. In the season 8 episode "Mr. Otis Regrets" when Lilith took singing lessons so she could sing to Frederick, several wisecracks were made by the Cheers barflies at her expense. Intending to prove her genuine commitment, Lilith sang "Sonny Boy" to Frederick, which moved the entire bar to tears, with Cliff running to the phone to call his "Ma." Regarding herself as quite an intellectual, Lilith takes her chosen profession, psychiatry, very seriously; forming elaborate psychological profiles to explain even the most ordinary events is an activity she frequently engages herself in, alone, or with Frasier, though she is a firm behaviorist, which sometimes leads to clashing with his strong psychoanalytic, Freudian stance. Lilith has a half-brother, a con-man named Blaine. Betty Sternin, Lilith's domineering mother, appeared in "Smotherly Love," and insisted that the wedding be restaged because she had missed the first one. The tension between her and Lilith grew until Lilith, passive through most of the episode, finally lashed out after being told to wear make-up and an uncharacteristically feminine wedding dress. After getting screamed at by her daughter to stop controlling her life, Betty displayed tearful pride. Lilith did not stay faithful to Frasier. In the 11th and final season, she confesses to Frasier that she cheated on him with her colleague Dr. Louis Pascal. Frasier forgives her on the condition that she must tell Dr. Pascal she will never see him again, but when she goes to do so, she changes her mind, deciding instead to live with Dr. Pascal in an underground eco-pod. Frasier's reaction culminates into a suicide attempt—walking up to the ledge of a third floor window above the bar, he threatens to jump, but steps down after thinking about the fate of his son. When Lilith arrives, she promises not to abandon him if he doesn't kill himself. Not wishing to hold his wife back, however, Frasier lets Lilith go. Lilith eventually sends a Dear John letter to Frasier from her eco-pod, because she's in love with Dr. Pascal. At Cheers, Frasier remains disconsolate despite a divorce party arranged by Rebecca. Being slightly inebriated, he lets her drive him home; when they reach his apartment, Frasier invites her in for coffee, after which they find themselves in his bedroom. Possible non-drinking activities are postponed, however, when, one by one, his friends walk in to cheer him up. After the last person finally departs, Frasier and Rebecca decide that they still want to continue what was interrupted, but just when they are about to begin sexual intercourse, Lilith walks in. Shocked even more than Frasier or Rebecca, Lilith immediately heads for Cheers to ask Sam about her husband's situation, but he is just as surprised. When Frasier (along with Rebecca) enters, Lilith professes her desire to be taken back. Rebecca has no intentions of continuing her short affair with Frasier, but he is deeply hesitant to re-embrace Lilith as his wife, given the pain her letter caused him, so Lilith makes it clear that the letter was actually written by Dr. Pascal to widen the rift between her and Frasier, thus allowing his own relationship to be consolidated. She explains that not only did she not love Dr. Pascal, she also had to leave the eco-pod because claustrophobia caused him to act irrationally. This is verified when Dr. Pascal storms into the bar with a gun, looking for Lilith and threatening to shoot anyone standing in his way. The situation is ultimately defused when Lilith persuades Dr. Pascal to give up his gun. Frasier still refuses to forgive Lilith, but, along with the rest of Cheers, is soon won over by her sobbing.


Beatrice "Bebe" Neuwirth was born in Princeton, New Jersey. She began to study ballet and chose it as her field of concentration when she attended Juilliard in New York City. During this period, she performed with the Princeton Ballet Company in "Peter and the Wolf," "The Nutcracker," and Coppélia" and appeared in community theater musicals. Although a stage first Bebe was cast in, what was perhaps, her most memorable television role. In the television series, "Cheers," Neuwirth played Lilith Sternin (later, Lilith Sternin-Crane), a love interest of fellow character Frasier Crane's (played by Kelsey Grammer). For her "Cheers" role, Neuwirth became an Emmy Award Nominated Actress. She was consecutively nominated twice in the "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series" category, winning both times. Reprising the role of "Lilith" in the "Cheers" spin-off, "Frasier," Bebe made eleven guest appearances on the show. Neuwirth, who has been associated with the work of Bob Fosse, made her Broadway debut in the role of Sheila in "A Chorus Line." She has been featured in revivals of "Little Me," "Sweet Charity," for which she received a Tony Award for "Best Featured Actress in a Musical," and "Damn Yankees." It was with a revival of "Chicago," in which she starred as showgirl and killer Velma Kelly, that she gained her greatest stage recognition. Her performance garnered her Tony and Drama Desk Awards as "Best Lead Actress in a Musical." She appeared in a musical revue, "Here Lies Jenny," that featured songs by Kurt Weill, sung and danced by Neuwirth and a four-person supporting cast, as part of an unspoken ambiguous story in an anonymous seedy bar possibly in Berlin in the 1930s. Neuwirth returned to the long-running Broadway production of "Chicago," this time in the role of Roxie Hart. Her screen credits include "Green Card," "Bugsy," "Say Anything...," "Jumanji," "Summer of Sam," "Liberty Heights," "Tadpole" (for which the Seattle Film Critics named her Best Supporting Actress), "The Associate," "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Malice," "The Big Bounce," "The Faculty" and Woody Allen's "Celebrity." As Lilith Sternin-Crane, Neuwirth won two Emmy Awards for "Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series." Neuwirth also won the Emmy for playing Lilith in the "Cheers" spin-off, "Frasier." However. this time it was for "Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series." Her Birthday is December 31st.

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