Everybody Loves Raymond star Doris Roberts has passed away at 90. Roberts was known for playing busy-body mother Marie Barone in the hit Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for nine seasons on CBS.
Doris Roberts enjoyed a 20-year stage career on Broadway before she became a fixture in film and television, and was also known for a recurring role on Remington Steele before Marie Barone made her a household name.
In a statement, her Everybody Loves Raymond co-star, Ray Romano, said, “Whether working professionally or with her many charities, or just nurturing and mentoring a green young comic trying to make it as an actor, she did everything with such a grand love for life and people and I will miss her dearly.”
Roberts was born Doris May Green in St. Louis, Missouri. She was raised by her mother, Ann Meltzer, in The Bronx, New York, with the assistance of her maternal grandparents, after her father, Larry Green, deserted the family. Roberts’ stepfather, whose surname she took as her own, was Chester H. Roberts. Chester and Roberts’ mother operated the Z.L. Rosenfield Agency, a stenographic service catering to playwrights and actors. Roberts was Jewish (her family was from Russia).
Roberts’ acting career began in 1952 with a role on the TV series Studio One. She appeared in episodes of The Naked City (1958–63), Way Out (1961), Ben Casey (1963), and The Defenders (1962–63). In 1961, she made her film debut in Something Wild (1961).
She appeared in such 1960s and 1970s films as A Lovely Way to Die, No Way to Treat a Lady, The Honeymoon Killers, Such Good Friends, Little Murders, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. In 1978, she appeared in a film about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Ruby and Oswald, in which she played Jack Ruby’s sister. She also appeared very briefly in The Rose, as the mother of the title character (played by Bette Midler).
In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rue McClanahan confirmed that in 1972 she was approached by Norman Lear during the taping of an All In The Family episode to be a late replacement for Roberts, who was originally intended for the role of Vivian in Maude. (Roberts later guest starred in a 1976 All in the Family episode, “Edith’s Night Out”.) Roberts played Theresa Falco on Angie, and later appeared as Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele.
After Remington Steele ended, she starred in the TV movie remake of If It’s Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium (1987) and the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). She appeared on Alice, playing the mother of the title character (played by her former Broadway co-star Linda Lavin), on Barney Miller as the wife of a man who secretly went to a sex surrogate, and on Full House as Danny Tanner’s mother, Claire. She played the unhinged “Flo Flotsky” on four episodes of Soap; Dorelda Doremus, a faith healer, on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; and lonely Aunt Edna on Step by Step.
Roberts achieved much of her fame for her role as Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. She was reportedly one of 100 actresses considered for the role. For her work on the series, she was nominated for seven Emmy Awards (and won four times) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She had previously won an Emmy for a guest appearance on St. Elsewhere, playing a homeless woman, and was also once nominated for her role on Remington Steele. She was nominated for appearances on Perfect Strangers and a PBS special called The Sunset Gang.
In 2003, she made a guest appearance as Gordo’s grandmother in Lizzie McGuire. The same year, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2006, she starred in Our House where she portrayed a wealthy woman who took homeless people in her house, and in Grandma’s Boy. In 2007, she made a guest appearance on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. In 2008, she appeared in the romantic comedy Play the Game alongside Andy Griffith, who plays a lonely widowed grandfather re-entering the dating world after a 60-year hiatus.
Roberts appeared in the 2009 film Aliens in the Attic, which was filmed in Auckland, New Zealand. She played George Needleman’s mother in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (2012). On September 23, 2010, she played Ms. Rinsky, Brick Heck’s schoolteacher in the second season premiere episode of The Middle. This appearance reunited her with Patricia Heaton, her co-star from Everybody Loves Raymond. Roberts returned in two other episodes that season, “The Math Class” and the finale, “Back to Summer”.
Roberts’ stage career began in the 1950s on Broadway. She appeared in numerous Broadway shows including William Marchant’s The Desk Set (with Shirley Booth), Neil Simon’s The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (with James Coco and Linda Lavin) and Terrence McNally’s Bad Habits. She starred in McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion at the LaJolla Playhouse in June 2009.
In May 2005, Roberts received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the University of South Carolina. She was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on May 7, 2011. She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 2003, at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
On September 4, 2002, Roberts testified before a U.S. Congressional panel that age discrimination was prevalent in Hollywood. She was a registered Democrat.
An animal rights advocate, Roberts worked with the group Puppies Behind Bars, which works with inmates in training guide dogs and assistance dogs for the physically disabled and elderly, as well as dogs trained in explosives detection to be used by law enforcement agencies. She was also active with the Children with AIDS Foundation, where she served as chairwoman.
Roberts married Michael Cannata in 1956; they divorced in 1962. Their son, Michael Cannata, Jr. (born 1957) is her only child. She had three grandchildren: Kelsey, Andrew and Devon. Her second husband was writer William Goyen and they were married from 1963 until his death from leukemia in 1983.
According to the official death certificate filed with Los Angeles county, a ‘large hemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident’ was responsible.
Doris Roberts was to star in the road trip flick Old Soldiers and had top billing before her death on Sunday at the age of 90. The passing of the former Everybody Loves Raymond veteran has thrown the movie currently in pre-production ‘in turmoil,’ according to TMZ.
Doris is the third elderly star to die before the film even gets off the ground, following Mickey Rooney who died in 2014 at age 93 and James Best who died last year at age 88. Now the film’s producer, Dave Rotan, says he is hesitant to re-cast Doris’ part because he doesn’t want to ‘jinx anyone else,’ as TMZ reports.
Rotan admits his ‘window of opportunity is quickly closing’ on replacing those roles left vacant.
>However, he tells TMZ he isn’t giving up on the movie and still has Rance Howard, 87, Hugh O’Brian, 91, and Clifton James, 94, on board.