David Pierce was born on April 3, 1959 in Saratoga Springs, New York. His father was an aspiring actor by the name of George Hyde Pierce. David would later adopt his father's middle name and become David Hyde Pierce to avoid confusion with another actor at the time by the name of David Pierce. He studied at Yale and continued to perfect his craft in acting at the Michael Howard Studios after moving to New York City.
Pierce made his Broadway debut in 1982 in Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang. His Off-Broadway debut followed in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Summer at New York City Center in 1983, and he then earned great acclaim for his portrayal as Laertes in the Public Theater's 1986 revival of Hamlet. Pierce was solidifying his name in the New York theatre scene with a string of Off-Broadway productions for reputable companies, including Playwrights Horizons (The Maderati), Lincoln Center Theater (Waiting For Godot), and once again at The Public Theater with Zero Positive and a Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. In 1990, he returned to Broadway, assuming the role of Peter Patrone in The Heidi Chronicles.
Although he had appeared in minor roles on television since 1985, his breakthrough role came in 1992 portraying Theodore Van Horne in The Powers That Be. His performance caught the attention of the producers of a new spinoff show to the popular series Cheers, and Pierce was soon cast in his most iconic role to date. He would play Dr. Niles Crane, the younger brother of Kelsey Grammer's character, on Frasier. He would play the role from 1993 to 2004 in a total of 263 episodes and won Emmy Awards for his efforts in 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2004. He also earned a total of five Golden Globe nominations and seven further Emmy Award nominations during his tenure on Frasier.
Over the years, Pierce has collected a number of notable screen credits including Sleepless in Seattle, Nixon, A Bug's Life, Chain of Fools, Wet Hot American Summer, Treasure Planet, and The Good Wife.
After his groundbreaking TV success, Pierce became a regular on Broadway, starring as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot from 2005 and winning a Tony Award for his portrayal of Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in the Broadway premiere of musical comedy Curtains. Subsequent Broadway credits include Accent on Youth (2009), La Bête (2010, after a West End premiere in London), and a Tony-nominated turn as Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in 2013, which premiered off Broadway at Lincoln Center the previous year.
During this time, Pierce also regularly appeared off Broadway, with his ever-growing stage résumé boasting appearances for Manhattan Theatre Club in Close Up Space (2011), for Vineyard Theatre in The Landing (2013), and for Playwrights Horizons in A Life (2016).
In 2015, Pierce made both his Broadway and Off-Broadway directorial debuts with the Broadway premiere of It Shoulda Been You and the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Ripcord at New York City Center.
Pierce began performances as Horace Vandergelder opposite Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! on March 15, 2017, earned a Tony nomination at the 71st annual Tony Awards ceremony, and played his final performance on January 14, 2018. He returned to the production for the final six weeks of the Broadway run from July 17 to August 25, 2018.