The Everybody Loves Raymond creator loosely based the character of Raymond’s mom in the CBS sitcom on his own mother. He saw about 100 women — “every character actress of that certain age” — for the role. “Doris hit it out of the park; there wasn’t really a close second,” Rosenthal said.
On Raymond, Roberts, who died Sunday at 90, was cast alongside comedian Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett and Peter Boyle.
“She was a maternal figure for all of us, very supportive of all of us, and Ray especially because he had not acted before. She was the one with the most experience — she had the longest career in sitcoms — so we counted on her to be the rock at the center of the show, and she was,” Rosenthal said.
On the Emmy-winning comedy, Roberts played Ray’s overbearing mother. It wasn’t an easy part because she was the antagonist of the show,” Rosenthal said. “Most conflicts were centered around her but you loved her because she was able to convey the idea that she was doing everything through love, and that’s what was relatable, not a simple portrayal or caricature… We were getting letters from (Raymond) viewers in Sri Lanka who were saying, ‘That is my mother!”
Like the title of her sitcom, everybody on the show loved Doris. “She held parties at her house for everyone, we would go every Christmas for a party at Doris’ house,” Rosenthal said.
He and his wife, Raymond co-star Monica Horan, remained close with Roberts, and last fall they took her to the Hollywood Bowl for a Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga concert. After the concert, they went backstage, and Lady Gaga was thrilled to meet the veteran actress.
Even with a career spanning 65 years, punctuated by 5 Emmy Awards and 11 nominations, Roberts never stopped honing her craft.
“One thing that few people know about is that she continued to take acting classes every single week even up until recently,” Rosenthal said. “She cared so much about being an actress and the craft of acting.”