Everybody Loves Raymond Creator Claims CBS Wanted "Hotter" Actress to Play Ray's Wife

Patricia Heaton was not the first choice for the role of Ray Romano's wife on Everybody Loves Raymond, says series creator Phil Rosenthal.

By Corinne Heller Sep 17, 2021 5:09 PMTags
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Not everybody loved the idea of Patricia Heaton playing the wife of Ray Romano's lead character on Everybody Loves Raymond.

In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, the creator of the '90's and '00's sitcom, Phil Rosenthal, said the show's network envisioned a different type of actress for the role, even before the star had the chance to audition.

"CBS wanted someone hotter to play Debra," he said in comments posted on Wednesday, Sept. 15. "I almost quit the show over it."

Reps for CBS has no immediate comment about Rosenthal's remarks when reached by E! News.

Rosenthal told Yahoo! Entertainment that CBS initially wanted a different actress to play the role of Debra and that he agreed to meet with her. He did not reveal her name.

"They insisted on this actress," he said. "She wasn't going to read for the role, but during the meeting I convinced her to read a little bit with me, and she was 10 times worse for the part than I thought she would be!"

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Rosenthal said he later met with CBS executives and told then-CEO Les Moonves, regarding the network's initial pick for the part of Debra, "I love her and I've loved everything she's been in. I think she's terrific and beautiful, but then she read for me and I have to tell you it's just not what I wrote. I just don't see them as a couple. I think she could do it, but I also think that maybe we could do better."

"Two weeks later, Patty walked in and within five minutes, she had the part," Rosenthal said. "When it's right, it's right, and you know it immediately."

Heaton won two Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond, which aired for nine seasons until 2005 and celebrated its 25th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 13.

"Happy 25th Anniversary to #EverybodyLovesRaymond!" Heaton tweeted that day. "To my on-screen family, everyone behind-the-scenes making the show a reality, and of course to the fans and Tweatons, for following along and still loving Debra today!"

Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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