The 'Everybody Loves Raymond' costar says it wasn't easy opening for Ol' Blue Eyes, especially on New Year's Eve in Vegas

By Josh Wolk
Updated May 17, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Corbis

As a costar of ”Everybody Loves Raymond,” Brad Garrett undoubtedly gets the respect of his bosses at CBS. But before he joined the top 10 hit, the 20-year veteran of the stand-up circuit didn’t always get such politeness from his employers: He recently told EW Online about a memorable day working as an opening act for the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra (The one-year anniversary of Sinatra’s death was last Friday):

”When you’re touring with legends, it’s so great, but when I was touring with Frank in the early ’90s, he was pushing 80 and he called me Greg Barrett. I’d walk backstage and he’d say, ‘Who are you, and who let you back here?’

”The first night I played with him was in 1990, and it was a show where if I did well I would go on tour with him. It was New Year’s Eve in Vegas. Well, people are drunk in Vegas on Easter at noon, so you can imagine New Year’s Eve.

”Frank was flying in from Palm Springs, and his helicopter was late. Before I go out I ask the road manager, ‘How long do I do?’ He says, ‘Do 10 minutes or 30.’ I say, ‘Which one? I’m gonna do a different set if I do 10 than if I do 30.’ He says, ‘I don’t know. When you’re out there, you’ll know when we want you off.’

”I swear to God, 15 minutes into my act, someone’s tugging on my mike cord. I look in the wings, and it’s Frank. ‘Let’s wrap it, baby, I gotta get back to the Springs!’ I go straight to my closer, my tired impressions, like, ‘What if Bill Cosby was a blackjack dealer?’ Now I’m really dying, I’m doing the hack s—, and he walks out in the middle of it with a cordless mike, singing ‘Summer Wind.’ He takes my mike, gives it to the bandleader, and says ‘Let’s have a hand for Greg Barrett!’ and goes right into ‘The Lady Is a Tramp.’ And I’m standing out there like a schmuck taking a bow. My brother saw it and said, ‘It’s history. Nothing has ever happened like that.”’

Everybody Loves Raymond

  • TV Show
  • In Season
  • CBS