Doris Roberts had an acting career that began in 1951 and was active for seven different decades. She worked in film, in television and on stage, accumulating more than 30 feature film credits and dozens more in television. She was even an activist for animal rights and people with AIDS, and testified before Congress about age discrimination in Hollywood.
But Doris Roberts was perhaps best known for a role she took on in her 70s: That of matriarch Marie Barone on the hugely popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, from 1996 to 2005. The part as the mother of Ray Romano’s Ray Barone not only endeared Roberts to huge audiences, but won her four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Doris Roberts died Sunday in Los Angeles, TMZ reported. She was 90 years old. No cause of death has been announced but TMZ, which filmed Roberts at a movie theater last month, reported at the time that she said she “she wasn’t feeling great.”
The St. Louis native began her acting career in the early 1950s, with a series of roles in TV shows. Her first movie was the 1961 thriller Something Wild. Roberts worked steadily throughout the 1960s and ‘70s in both movies and television. She had guest-starring appearances on everything from Barney Miller to Full House to Soap to Step by Step. In 1982 she won an Emmy for a guest-starring role as a homeless woman on the drama St. Elsewhere. Roberts’ most prominent pre-Raymond role was likely , as Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele, in which she starred opposite future James Bond Pierce Brosnan in the 1980s.
But it was Roberts’ role on Everybody Loves Raymond that was her greatest career success. For nine seasons Roberts was a key part of the show’s close-knit Italian-American family, always playing brilliantly off of Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, and especially Peter Boyle (who died in 2006, shortly after the series went off the air). In addition to the four Emmys, Roberts received a Screen Actors Guild award for the part.
In the later years of her career, Roberts had a memorable role in the Adam Sandler-produced comedy Grandma’s Boy, and later reunited with her Everybody Loves Raymond costar Heaton on an episode of The Middle.
Roberts, whose second husband, the screenwriter William Goyen, died in 1983, is survived by her son Michael Cannata, Jr.
R.I.P. Doris Roberts: November 4, 1925 – April 17, 2016