Doris Roberts

Not a morning name or (thank goodness) an obit, but a brief appreciation of the actor (as a result of seeing her featured in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent), plus some reflections on tv sitcoms.

From Wikipedia:

Doris May Roberts (née Green; November 4, 1925) is an American character actress of film, stage, and television. She has received five Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild award during her acting career, which began in 1952. She is perhaps best known for her role as Raymond Barone’s mother, Marie Barone on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005).

Doris May Green was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1925. Her mother, Ann Meltzer, who was of Russian Jewish descent, raised her daughter in the New York City borough of The Bronx with the assistance of her own parents, after her husband Larry deserted the family.

Doris’ stepfather, whose surname she took as her own, was Chester H. Roberts, whose name is included with Ann and Doris Green in the 1940 census as “lodger”. Chester and Ann Roberts operated the Z.L. Rosenfield Agency, a stenographic service catering to playwrights and actors.

… She has usually been cast as a mother or mother-in-law on television, i.e. as Theresa Falco on Angie. She later appeared as Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele. After that show 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. 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 her widest fame for her role as Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Roberts in 2011:


I’ve given more of her personal history here by way of explaining where her accent comes from: she’s recognizable as a Jewish New Yorker in pretty much any role she plays, including the socialite Lady Harrington in Law & Order.

I especially enjoyed her as Mildred Krebs in Remington Steele. Wikipedia on the show:

Remington Steele is an American television series co-created by Robert Butler and Michael Gleason. The series, starring Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan, was produced by MTM Enterprises and first broadcast on the NBC network from 1982 to 1987. The series blended the genres of romantic comedy, drama, and detective procedural. Remington Steele is best known for launching the career of Pierce Brosnan and for serving as a forerunner of the similar series Moonlighting.

Remington Steele‘s premise is that Laura Holt, a licensed private detective played by Stephanie Zimbalist, opened a detective agency under her own name but found that potential clients refused to hire a woman, however qualified. To solve the problem, Laura invents a fictitious male superior whom she names Remington Steele. Through a series of events that unfold in the first episode, “License to Steele”, Pierce Brosnan’s character, a former thief and con man whose real name is never revealed, assumes the identity of Remington Steele.

Roberts’s character was the secretary (really office manager) and sometime investigator.

The primary cast:


Roberts is currently best known for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond, a sitcom with a primary cast of five:


The actors: Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle, Roberts, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton.

The show is packed with family strife and nastiness; I find it repellent, but then I’m not at all fond of insult comedy. From Wikipedia:

Everybody Loves Raymond is an American television sitcom starring Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Madylin Sweeten, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle and Monica Horan. It originally ran on CBS from September 13, 1996 to May 16, 2005.

The show revolves around the life of Italian-American Raymond Barone [Romano], a sportswriter for Newsday living with his family in Lynbrook, New York. Whiny and flippant, Raymond does not take many things seriously, making jokes in nearly every situation, no matter how troubling or problematic. He often avoids responsibilities around the house and with his kids, leaving this to his wife Debra [Heaton].

Raymond and Debra live with their daughter Ally and twin sons Michael and Geoffrey … Raymond’s parents, Marie [Roberts] and Frank [Boyle], and older brother Robert [Garrett] live across the street, and frequently make their presence known to the frustration of Raymond and Debra. Debra’s frequent complaints about Raymond’s family are a running joke. Out of the three unwanted visitors, Debra is particularly put off by Marie – an insulting, controlling and manipulative, though loving, woman who constantly criticizes Debra and coddles Ray, clearly favoring him over Robert

… Raymond often finds himself in the middle of all the problems and arguments and proves himself incapable of taking any sort of stand, especially if there is the chance that it will bring down his mother’s wrath on him. His biggest nemesis is his brother Robert, who is insecure and jealous of Raymond for being the favorite son, as well as of Raymond’s relative success in both his professional and family life. Robert and Raymond are frequently seen fighting like children and picking on each other, although they on occasion have been shown to love one another.

Raymond and Robert’s father, Frank, is a boorish and obnoxious person, constantly making insulting and sarcastic remarks to everyone with whom he comes into contact.

Sitcoms and insult comedy. Most situation comedies are on the sweet side, but some (like ELR) are sharply unpleasant. One of the latter sort that had a successful run is Just Shoot Me!: From Wikipedia:

Just Shoot Me! is an American television sitcom that aired for seven seasons on NBC from March 4, 1997, to August 16, 2003, with 148 episodes produced. The show was created by Steven Levitan, the show’s executive producer.

The show follows the staff at the fictional fashion magazine Blush.

It has two particularly nasty main characters: the sarcastic Dennis Finch (David Spade, who specializes in such roles) and the shallow, boozing Nina Van Horn (Wendie Malick). Shudder.

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