Actor Doris Roberts was most well-known for her role as problematic Marie Barone on the CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. But she had an impressive decades-long resumé that went way beyond her appearance on the 1990s sitcom.
The actor revealed that at one point she missed her opportunity to get cast on a trailblazing comedy in the 1970s. She kicked herself for not having done her audition differently.
Roberts is well-known for her role as Marie Barone on ‘Raymond’
Doris Roberts died in 2016. She began her career in the 1950s and appeared in numerous films and television series including Barefoot in the Park, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, and Barney Miller, to name just a few. She also enjoyed a recurring role on the 1980s crime drama series Remington Steele.
Despite her sizeable body of work, Roberts’ claim to fame was her role as family matriarch Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. As she told the Television Academy Foundation in 2005, she felt great pride in having given the part of Marie so much dimension.
“I do, I think, a darn good job [of playing Marie Barone],” she said. “It’s a thin line, because you could hate her and turn that show off. But you don’t; you laugh at her.”
Roberts said of her try-out, “I didn’t give it the time I usually do when I’m going to audition for a part,” she admitted. “But I was so overwhelmed with what I was doing at the time with working on the play and directing it, that I didn’t have time, I really didn’t.”
The role that got away from Doris Roberts
In 1971, Roberts was appearing in the Neil Simon comedy Last of the Red Hot Lovers on Broadway. She was told CBS was developing a new sitcom called Maude and was interested in her for the role of Vivian Harmon.
Once she arrived in L.A., she auditioned opposite the show’s lead actor, Bea Arthur, who also happened to be a good pal of Roberts’. She mirrored Arthur’s personality in the audition for comic effect.
“Bea and I were old friends,” Roberts said. “We were wearing outfits that were done by the same woman in New York called BeBe. [Arthur] said ‘I got it in brown.’ I said, ‘I got it in purple.’ She said, ‘I got it in black.’ I said, ‘I got it in blue.’”
Arthur was convinced her friend would get the role on the sitcom. Unfortunately, the show’s producers felt her audition was too much like “a little Bea Arthur” and she lost the part.
“I never would have played it that way if I had known,” Roberts recalled. “And so I was fired.”
The role of Vivian eventually went to future Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan.
Doris Roberts’ unstoppable career
As the actor explained, it was her persistence that landed her the career she had only dreamed of having.
“I don’t give in, give up, [or] settle, and I never take “no” for an answer,” she said. “If you throw me out the door, I’ll come through the window. If you find something you love to do, then it’s not work. Then it’s a profession that you don’t mind getting up to go do.”
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