David C. Lee grew up in Claremont, California. He attended the University of the Redlands, majoring in music theory and theater. He graduated in 1972.
David and Peter Casey met each other while working as proofreaders and typists at a script-mimeo company. The two began writing as team and in 1979 joined the writing staff of "The Jeffersons." They worked on the "The Jeffersons" for 6 years serving as writers, story editors, and then producers.
In 1985 they then became part of the crew of "Cheers" working as writers and supervising producers. 1985 was also the year that they met David Angell, another staff writer, and he soon joined their writing team. In early 1990, the three formed a production company, Grub Street Productions. Soon after they created the sitcom "Wings," which was very successful, lasting 7 years. In 1993, when "Cheers" ended, the three then created the most successful spin-off in history, "Frasier."
David Lee co-wrote the pilot episode for "Frasier" with Peter Casey and David Angell, but then went on to be a director for the show. The first sitcom episode he directed was a fourth season episode of "Wings" that aired in November of 1992. Experienced sitcom director Andy Ackerman had hurt his back requiring that David take his place. David had been trained as a director but had never done it with 4 cameras or on a set before. He commented that it was scary at first but he soon found that he really enjoyed it. He directed 5 more "Wings" episodes and went on to direct 42 episodes of "Frasier," which is more episodes than anyone else has directed over the show's 11 year run. David Lee even directed "Frasier's" series finale. Since becoming this established sitcom director he has also directed episodes of other sitcoms including "Everybody Loves Raymond."
In 1998, David Lee, Grub Street partners Casey and Angell, as well as head "Frasier" writers Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano, created the sitcom "Encore! Encore!" starring Nathan Lane. Due to low ratings though, the sitcom was cancelled after half a season in early 1999.
In 2001, David directed a sitcom pilot called "Say Uncle" although it was never aired or picked up.