Everybody Loves Raymond was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 2000s. It won over 56 awards, including 4 acting Emmys for Doris Roberts and 2 for Brad Garret and Patricia Heaton. Its reruns earn the cast hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This success didn’t come without controversy, disputes, and tragedy. There were battles over salaries and political views behind the scenes, and many of the most prominent cast members died during or soon after its run.
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The Pay Dispute
Ray Romano starred in one of the most successful sitcoms of all time and negotiated a great deal for himself. He earned $1.8 million per episode after a season 8 raise while his co-stars earned $160,000.
Brad Garrett found out about the disparity and staged a walkout that lasted for 2 weeks. He refused to show up for the season’s first episode and demanded a raise. Patricia Heaton called out sick, and Peter Doyle and Doris Roberts both followed.
The dispute ended with a deal that let all cast members be included in syndication royalties, allowing them to earn an extra $20 million each. Doris was pleased that her grandchildren would always have money coming in from this. Brad says he no longer holds any ill will towards Ray. He just wanted to be paid fairly.
Ray Hated the Show’s Name, and His Brother Wasn’t Happy With Robert
The show’s name came from a snarky remark from Ray’s brother Rich. It was meant as a placeholder title, and Ray hated everything about it. The producers allegedly said they’d change it if the show reached the top 10 but refused to when it did.
Ray’s fictional brother Rob became a fan favorite that almost got his own spin-off, but the man who inspired him wasn’t happy with him. Rich got teased by his fellow cops at the NYPD about the show.
Sawyer Sweeten’s Suicide
The Sweeten twins played Ray’s sons, with Sawyer taking on the role of Geoffrey and Sullivan playing Michael. They added an extra charm and made the cast feel like a complete family. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for them until tragedy struck.
Sawyer Sweeten died at the age of 19 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His family and co-stars were shocked because he showed no signs of depression until the final week of his life. That was when his brother and mother noticed him developing social anxiety and a cynical attitude towards the show, especially because of all the school he missed because of it.
Brad Garret’s Failing Marriage, Alcoholism, and Paparazzi Fights
Brad proposed to his girlfriend Jill Diven on-set in 1998, but the relationship didn’t last forever. They separated in 2005 and ultimately divorced in 2007. He didn’t tell his real or sitcom family about it until it ended up on the news in August of 2006. They stayed friends for the sake of their children and continued to raise them together.
Brad was much more open about his struggles with alcoholism. He spoke about it in an interview with ET in 2015. He said that he used to drink a 5th a day. He eventually realized it could kill him and sought help, going sober in 1997 when the first season of Everybody Loves Raymond came to an end.
Brad also had a hard time with the prying eyes of the paparazzi. He swatted at one of their cameras outside of Dan Tana’s in LA, challenged a group of them to a fight, and made racist comments towards them.
His tell-all book When the Balls Drop reveals even more candid details about his struggles while filming the show. He admits that he wasn’t initially impressed with Ray but that they later became close and likened alimony payments to “paying for the lease on a car after turning it in.”
Peter Boyle’s Tragic Death
Peter Boyle was an essential part of the show’s success. His role as Ray’s grumpy father Frank Barone may not have earned him an Emmy, but the character did rank #10 on TV Guide’s list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time in 2004
He even showed up to the audition perfectly in character. He was worked up into a tizzy after struggling to find a parking spot near the studio. The casting directors saw his outrage. They knew it meant that he was perfect for the part.
Peter was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2002 and bone cancer known as multiple myeloma in 2003. He kept his diagnoses a secret from almost everyone, except his TV wife Doris Roberts. She admitted in a 2009 Los Angeles Times interview that she told him not to tell anyone else because they would treat him like a dying man.
Most of the rest of the cast knew something was wrong with Peter but didn’t say anything. He was able to stay until the end of Everybody Loves Raymond’s 9-year run, and it wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Peter Boyle passed away at the age of 71 in 2006 from multiple myeloma and heart disease.
The Loss of Doris Roberts
Playing Marie in Everybody Loves Raymond was far from Doris Roberts’ first major role. She’d had a long career before the show started and almost didn’t join the cast.
Doris was directing a play at the time and didn’t think she could fit it into her schedule. Luckily for everyone, the producers convinced her to take it.
Doris Roberts died in her sleep at the age of 90 in April of 2016.
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Patricia Heaton’s Lawsuit and Social Media Controversy
Patricia Heaton’s former assistant Jennifer Lee sued her for $7,425 on the grounds of unpaid wages and forced overtime in 2009.
She claimed that she was hired to work 15-20 hours and earn $770 per week but had to work much more with no extra pay or benefits. She also claimed that Patricia fired her after requests for extra pay and said that leaving to care for her child was becoming a problem. The suit is yet to be settled.
Patricia is a staunch conservative. She appeared on the radio show Focal Point. It’s run by Brian Fischer, a man who’s tweeted about his belief that homosexuality should be lumped in with pedophilia and bestiality as aberrant sexual behaviors.
Patricia tweeted Jeremy Hooper of GLAAD to apologize for her appearance and claimed to have no idea about Brian’s beliefs. This didn’t stop her from later making controversial tweets about homosexuality and reproductive rights.
Her conservative views often clashed with Peter’s liberal beliefs They allegedly came to blows on a few occasions and made the cast uncomfortable. At least they didn’t end on a sour note, and she did attend his funeral.
Patricia also embarrassed herself when she went on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2009. She failed to answer a simple math question in the early stages.
Fred Willard’s Embarrassing Moment
Fred Willard also had an embarrassing moment despite playing the straight-laced Hank MacDougal. TMZ reported that he was found pleasuring himself at The Tiki Theater and arrested for lewd conduct. He entered a diversion program to avoid a trial and maintained his innocence in an interview with Jimmy Fallon.
Other Legal Issues
Madylin Sweeten played Ray’s daughter Ally. Her career slowed after the show ended, but her name entered the headlines because of a lawsuit.
She agreed to be part of an internet soap opera called Youthful Daze but sued its creator Byran James. He didn’t give her the creative control she’d been promised despite her initial investment of $28,000 in it. He claimed she ruined the show by showing up late and countersued for $1.5 million. Both suits have yet to be settled.
Sherri Shepherd played Rob’s police partner Sergeant Judy. She’s had to fight her ex-husband Lamar Sally for child support payments for years, beginning in 2014. They’d conceived a son via surrogate with his sperm and a donor egg. He claimed she had no biological link to the child, but a judge ruled she would be his legal mother.
Sherri didn’t come out of the court unscathed, however. She earned more than her ex-husband and had to pay him $4100 a month, which she siad on Twitter was not fair.
She went back to court a few months later, alleging that he lied about how much he made. She even pulled the dirty move of making his online dating accounts public. The battle was long and ugly and continues today.
Fans were shocked by how abruptly Everybody Loves Raymond ended. Its finale felt like any other episode and offered no closure.
Filming it wasn’t easy, either, because it had to be delayed twice. The first time was when Doris got sick. When they did film it, Patricia was emotional and spent rehearsals in tears until she lost her voice and delayed the filming again.
The main reason the showrunners chose to end the show when they did was that they’d simply run out of ideas. They noticed that the quality of the writing was decreasing and didn’t want to keep it going longer than necessary.
Show creator Phillip Rosenthal also brought the show to an end for the sake of his marriage. He didn’t want his wife Monica to get fed up with seeing Debra speak lines inspired by her own words or worry about what would get put on air anymore.
The cast got over the fight and controversies they’d experienced while fliming and now consider themselves friends. They met again when Doris died and had an amicable dinner, but the loss of several cast members means they don’t plan on ever having a filmed reunion.
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