Doris Roberts, the Emmy-winning actress who died Sunday at age 90, was a fixture on screen for seven decades. One of TV’s most prolific and beloved moms, she also branched out with dramatic work and wasn’t afraid to play against type. Here are seven of her most memorable roles.
Everybody Loves Raymond
Roberts found her signature role relatively late in her career, playing the loving but meddlesome mother Marie Barone in Ray Romano’s popular CBS sitcom, which ran from 1996 to 2005. Partnered with Peter Boyle as the grumpy patriarch Frank, she doted on everyman Ray (Romano) while locking horns with daughter-in-law Debra (Patricia Heaton) and occasionally overlooking eldest son Robert (Brad Garrett). Roberts earned seven Emmy nominations for her work on the show, and won four.
Long before she appeared on Raymond, Roberts portrayed a small-screen mom on Angie, which starred Donna Pescow as a Philadelphia waitress who strikes up a romance with a young doctor (Robert Hays) rebelling against his wealthy family. Roberts played Theresa Falco, a down-to-earth newsstand owner who raised two daughters on her own but still kept a place at the table for the husband who walked out on the family 19 years earlier. The show debuted in 1979 and ran for two seasons.
Roberts and costar James Coco both won Emmys for their guest appearances on “Cora and Arnie,” an episode from the first season of the medical drama St. Elsewhere. They played a homeless couple whose relationship is tested when Cora (Roberts) learns that her feet needed to be amputated, which would prevent her from caring for the mentally disabled Arnie (Coco). In a 2005 interview, Roberts said the performance was “the best, dramatically the best, in television that I’ve done.”
Coming off her St. Elsewhere turn, Roberts took on the role of Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele, the detective show that launched an unknown Pierce Brosnan to stardom. At first suspicious of the titular ex-thief, Krebs joins his crime-fighting operation with strong-willed private investigator Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist). Roberts’ performance as their diligent receptionist garnered another Emmy nomination.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Family high-jinks naturally ensued when Roberts joined the Griswolds on the big screen in National Lampoon’s 1983 Yuletide comedy. She played the mother of Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and was a hard sell for Clark’s (Chevy Chase) take on the holiday. His plan to kill a squirrel caused her to faint — not most folks’ ideal Christmas.
In 2006, Roberts had fun with her wholesome image in Grandma’s Boy, the raunchy Happy Madison comedy about a video game tester (Allen Covert) forced to move in with his grandma (Roberts) and her two friends (Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight). Roberts said it was her first R-rated comedy — and maybe the first time she faked getting high on camera too.
Full House She only visited San Francisco once, but Roberts played Danny Tanner’s (Bob Saget) mom in season 3 of Full House. In the 1989 episode, Granny Tanny is retired and looking for meaning, so she begins to help around the house. But when she begins to overstay her welcome and decides to move in, Danny admits the family lied about needing her helping hand. Like all good moms, and true to the Full House spirit, Granny accepts her son’s apology in heartwarming fashion.