Doris Roberts passed away on Sunday in Los Angeles at age 90, TMZ reports. A family spokeswoman Janet Daily confirmed her death to The Associated Press.
Roberts is best known for her role as Ray Romano’s TV mother on the CBS comedy, Everybody Loves Raymond. She and Peter Boyle played Marie and Frank Barone, who lived across the street from their son and his family. Her co-star Patricia Heaton paid tribute to Roberts on Twitter shortly after news of her death broke.
Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Roberts Passed Away at Age 90
Roberts died in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 17. She was 90 years old. Family spokeswoman Janet Daily learned of her death from Roberts’ son, Michael Cannata Jr., according to The Associated Press. Cannata Jr. told Deadline that his mother died in her sleep of natural causes.
When TMZ ran into the actress about a month ago, Roberts told the videographer that she wasn’t feeling well. She was on the way to see Hail, Caesar at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood with a friend.
Her TV sons Ray Romano and Brad Garrett remembered Roberts in statements to Entertainment Weekly.
Doris Roberts had an energy and a spirit that amazed me. She never stopped. 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. – Ray Romano
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Doris Roberts, an amazing lady and brilliant actor. Doris was vibrant and full of life both on and off the stage, and I am so grateful we shared so many wonderful memories. I will miss her greatly and will always remember her incredible kindness, humor, talent and heart. – Brad Garrett
2. She Is Survived by Her Son Michael Cannata Jr.
Roberts is survived by her son, Michael Cannata Jr, whose father was her first husband, Michael Emilio Cannata. She had three grandchildren, Kelsey, Andrew and Devon.
Roberts became known for her roles as a mother or grandmother in television and movies. Her matriarch roles included Everybody Loves Raymond, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Grandma’s Boy.
3. Roberts Said ‘None of the Men in My Life Ever Wanted Me to Be Successful’
Roberts was married twice in her life. She married her first husband Michael Emilio Cannata in 1956 and got divorced in 1962. She married her second husband, writer William Goyen, on November 10, 1963 and they were together until Goyen died of leukemia on August 30, 1983.
She believed that the men in her life were never secure with her success. “None of the men in my life ever wanted me to be successful. I think they thought I’d leave them,” she told Parade magazine in 2014.
Roberts had nothing but love for her TV husband, Peter Boyle, who she starred with on Everybody Loves Raymond for nine seasons. She told Parade:
When Peter Boyle and I met for the first time on the show it was as if we had known each other for 45 years. We got more laughs just giving each other dirty looks than anything else. I loved him… He was the antithesis of the character he played. He was bright, well-read. He loved to sing.
4. Roberts Won Four Emmy Awards for Her Work on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
Roberts played Marie Barone for nine seasons on the CBS comedy, Everybody Loves Raymond. The role notched her seven Emmy nominations, four of which she won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She was the producers’ first choice for Marie, but turned it down at first because of her busy schedule on stage in New York.
Roberts credits Lily Tomlin for her move to Los Angeles following 20 successful years on Broadway. She appeared on The Lily Tomlin Comedy Hour in 1975 and picked up her first Emmy nomination and win in 1983 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on St. Elsewhere.
5. She Realized She Wanted to Be An Actress in Kindergarten
Roberts was born as Doris May Green on November 4, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. She and her mother, Ann Meltzer, moved to the South Bronx in 1935 when her father abandoned their family. They moved in with her mother’s parents and her uncle, Willie Meltzer, who she called the one person in her life who loved her unconditionally. Roberts told Parade:
He totally loved me and took care of me, and taught me laughter, music In the morning—and this is a long time ago—he’d take the cream off the bottle of milk to put on my cereal, and then he’d take me to school and yell at the boys not to be rough with me. And then he’d pick me up and bring me home.
She caught the acting bug early, performing in a kindergarten play. She wrote in a Facebook post that “when I heard the audience burst with laughter, I knew I wanted to be an actor!” Roberts graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and attended New York University, but dropped out to pursue acting full-time.
Roberts made her Broadway debut in 1955 in a production of The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, according to biography.com. She made her film debut in 1961’s Something Wild.