Doris Roberts, the character actress known especially for her turn as the beloved (and meddling) matriarch on Everybody Loves Raymond, died Sunday. Raymond co-star Patricia Heaton confirmed the 90-year-old’s death via Twitter on Monday, but a cause wasn’t immediately available. “Doris Roberts was a consummate professional from whom I learned so much,” Heaton wrote to her “beloved Marie.” “She was funny and tough and loved life, living it to the fullest.”
Titular sitcom star Ray Romano also paid tribute, writing that “Doris Roberts had an energy and a spirit that amazed me … Whether working professionally or with her many charities, or just nurturing and mentoring a young, green comic trying to make it as an actor, she did it all with such a grand love for life and people and I will miss her dearly.”
Roberts’s 60-plus-year acting career began onstage before taking off onscreen in the ’70s. The St. Louis native performed on Broadway in The Time of Your Life, The Desk Set, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Bad Habits, among other comedies. On the TV and film side, Roberts boasted a vast résumé that featured projects ranging from 1974’s Taking of Pelham One Two Three and The Love Boat, to Full House and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. She garnered particular praise and attention for her work on St. Elsewhere, Angie, Remington Steele, Perfect Strangers, American Playhouse, and, of course, Everybody Loves Raymond.
By playing Romano’s nosy TV mom, Marie Barone, so convincingly and humorously, Roberts won four supporting-actress Emmys and was nominated nearly every season the CBS show was on the air. Roberts also earned an Emmy in 1983 for playing Cora in an episode of St. Elsewhere. Other recent, notable credits include Desperate Housewives, The Middle (where she reunited with Heaton), Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Grandma’s Boy. The energy Romano mentions above was no exaggeration, as Roberts’s track record and dedication proved; the veteran also promised Carson Daly in 2004 that she’d continue acting till she was using a walker:
With regard to her famous sitcom family, Roberts was predeceased by Peter Boyle, in 2006, and Sawyer Sweeten, just last year. Offscreen, she married twice and is survived by a son and three grandchildren.
This story has been updated throughout.