I WANT TO MARRY CAMILLE NOT BECAUSE she can make me happy but because she already has,” Kelsey Grammer said last December in announcing his engagement to Camille Donatacci, 28, a Playboy model. Those who care about the Frasier star’s happiness hope it’s less fleeting this time around. In his 1995 memoir So Far, Grammer, 42, called his then-fiancée, Tammi Baliszewski, “the gentle breeze in which I flourish today.” But when that breeze began to gale, Grammer turned to Donatacci. Seven months after their meeting last year, he proposed.
Their sunset open-air wedding ceremony on Aug. 2, performed by two Catholic priests, and a sit-down dinner reception afterward were pulled off with surprisingly effective secrecy at Saddlerock Ranch, a privately owned (but rentable) 1,000-acre Malibu spread featuring horses, ostriches and llamas. Over a P.A. system a tuxedoed Grammer welcomed some 200 guests, including Cheers costar John Ratzenberger and Frasier costar David Hyde Pierce, who sipped champagne and sampled hors d’oeuvres.
Grammer’s intended “was a beautiful bride,” says Vera Wang, who designed Donatacci’s simple white-silk organza gown with hand-appliquéd flowers and chapel-length train, as well as the four bridesmaids’ lilac-silk sheaths. “It was a perfect, low-key wedding dress for the beach,” says the designer. More elaborate were Donatacci’s diamond earrings with five-carat topaz drops, a wedding gift from Grammer.
Earlier this summer the couple were spotted ducking into Manhattan’s Tiffany & Co., where they signed up at the bridal registry for, among other items, 12 settings each of two patterns of Limoges china ($300 and $465 respectively per five-piece setting), eight chick-shaped eggcups ($15 each) and an $1,100 handblown Seguso vase.
Of course, no major event in Grammer’s life—replete as it has been with his admitted struggles with alcohol, drugs and depression—would fail to draw paparazzi. Plainclothes guards seized a husband-and-wife team, Peter Brandt and Francine Mitchell Brandt, freelancers who crashed the reception hoping to sell the story to tabloids, and handed them over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriffs cited the pair (along with a freelance photographer) for trespassing. Claiming that security guards frisked them, Brandt says he and his wife will sue.
They may have to wait their turn. Grammer is already being sued for libel by ex-girlfriend Cerlette Lamme, of whom he wrote in his autobiography, “Although she wasn’t the neediest woman I’ve ever been with, she was needy enough.” And Baliszewski, who has begun shopping around a proposal for a tell-all book about her bumpy relationship with Grammer, also has threatened to bring action. “He has my dog Kolby, my birth certificate, $40,000 worth of jewelry and all our engagement gifts,” she says.
The former fiancée adds that Grammer and Donatacci were introduced last June by his friend Jeremy Zimmer just two days after Grammer and Baliszewski had “a huge fight.” Little is known about the bride beyond the fact that, like Baliszewski, she has appeared in Playboy (15 times since 1993) and that she has acted in the pay-per-view erotic comedy Marilyn Chambers’ Bedtime Stories and has a walk-on role in Woody Allen’s upcoming Deconstructing Henry. As the third Mrs. Grammer, she was preceded to the altar by Doreen Alderman, a dance instructor and mother of Kelsey’s 13-year-old daughter, Spencer. Alderman and Grammer divorced in 1990. (He fathered a second daughter, Greer, now 5, with makeup artist Barrie Buckner.) Grammer’s second marriage, to exotic dancer Leigh-Anne Csuhany, ended in 1993.
Donatacci has already weathered one instance of incorrect Grammer. Last September the actor, intoxicated, wrecked his red Dodge Viper and wound up at the Betty Ford Center. And at a Friars Club roast honoring Grammer last November, Donatacci herself came in for some unfriendly fire when a comedian referred to her from the dais as a “bimbo.” Her response: “I dealt with it.”
Offsetting such troubling portents is the fact that Grammer conforms so handsomely to Donatacci’s male ideal. Asked to describe her perfect date in a Playboy questionnaire, she answered, “Great energy and personality.”
KEN BAKER, TOM CUNNEFF and MONICA RIZZO in Los Angeles and SUSAN MILLER in New York City