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Tyler Perry


Ellen Pompeo


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Valerie Bertinelli


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Vincent D'Onofrio


Allen Covert

Doris Roberts Biography


Home > Actresses > R > Roberts, Doris > Biography


Birth Name: Doris Roberts
Born: 11/04/1930
Birth Place: St Louis, Missouri, USA


Born on Nov. 4, 1930, Roberts was raised in the Bronx, NY where her mother ran a stenography service that catered to the theater community. Roberts herself was interested in the entertainment world, and often cut school to indulge in matinees at the cinema or theater. She spent a short time pursuing journalism at New York University but her dramatic flair led her to abandon that pursuit to study acting with Sanford Meisner at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse School and with Lee Strasberg at the famed Actor's Studio. She made her professional stage debut at City Center in 1955 in William Saroyan's "The Time of Your Life" and began to pick up character roles on New York-based soaps and live television dramas, as well as in films including "The Out-of-Towners" (1964), "Barefoot in the Park" (1967) and the cult classic "The Honeymoon Killers" (1970). Notable stage performances of the era included a featured role in Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" (1969), Paul Zindel's "The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild" (1972) and Terrence McNally's "Bad Habits" (1974), for which Roberts earned an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress. The same year, she had a memorable film role as the New York City mayor's ambitious wife in "The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3" (1974).

Roberts scored critical notice in 1975 for "Hester Street," the Joan Micklin Silver movie about life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the century. Buoyed by her enviable success as a steadily working actress, Roberts moved to Hollywood that year and scored immediate attention for her first assignment, an episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1970-77) in which she played a curt employment agency worker helping Phyllis find a job. In 1976, Roberts made another memorable episodic appearance on "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79), as a hard-edged dame who takes Edith under her wing when she boldly decides to go to Kelsey's Bar on her own. She soon had a regular series role as a scamming evangelist on the soap opera satire, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Roberts appeared in a pair of TV movies, playing the wife of a TV writer who fears his script has triggered a crime in "The Storyteller" (NBC, 1977), and mother to Marlo Thomas in "It Happened One Christmas" (ABC). She returned to prime time sitcoms with "Angie." Well remembered by TV fans even though it only lasted a season and a half on the airwaves, the show featured Roberts as a working class Philadelphia mother whose daughter (Donna Pescow) "marries up" to a blueblood doctor, played by Robert Hays.

Roberts had a supporting role as Bette Midler's mother in "The Rose" (1979) and became a regular on "Maggie" (ABC, 1981-82) as a hairdresser who gabs with the title character, an Erma Bombeck-like writer. She gave a Emmy-winning performance as a bag lady in a 1982 episode of NBC's "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88) and was a memorable guest on "Remington Steele" (NBC, 1983-87), as well as the grandmother of the kids on "Full House" (ABC, 1989) who drives their household crazy after her retirement, and as mother to Toby (Denny Dillon) on the HBO sitcom, "Dream On." She earned her fourth Emmy nomination in 1991 for the American Playhouse drama "The Sunset Gang" (PBS) in which she played one of a group of seniors living in a retirement village. After giving her all to one more short-lived sitcom, "The Boys" (CBS, 1993), the 63-year-old snared the highest-profile role of her long and varied career, that of Ray Romano's "meddlesome, intrusive mother-from-hell on "Everybody Loves Raymond." The adult-oriented comedy about three generations of the same family living side by side in a New York City neighborhood was a consistent ratings winner for its irreverent humor, underlying sweetness, and beloved cast, including Roberts, who garnered multiple Emmy nominations and four wins as Best Supporting Actress in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

An overnight celebrity, Roberts used her status to speak out against ageism in Hollywood, recalling how 100 actresses had auditioned for her "Raymond" role - one of the rare parts in town for an older actress. She co-authored Are You Hungry, Dear?, a memoir and cookbook based on her character's penchant for stuffing her family's faces. In 2001, she essayed a salty receptionist in the indie comedy "All Over the Guy" and cameoed as David Spade's hard-driving stage mother in the 2003 comedy, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star." In an excellent performance as another kind of family matriarch - one suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's - Roberts co-starred in the Thanksgiving telepic "A Time to Remember" (2003). After "Raymond" wrapped in 2005, Roberts was tapped for roles in a number of big screen comedies including Adam Sandler's "Grandma's Boy" (2006), "Play the Game" (2008) and "They Came from Upstairs" (2009). Following a return to the stage in Nora and Delia Ephron's off-Broadway hit "Love, Loss and What I Wore" (2010), Roberts reunited with "Raymond" co-star Patricia Heaton with a recurring guest starring role as a third grade teacher on the sitcom "The Middle" (ABC, 2009- ). She went had more guest starring roles on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012), and delivered a deft comic performance as Betty White's nemesis on "Hot in Cleveland" (TV Land, 2010- ).