Everybody Loves Raymond creator claims CBS wanted ‘hotter’ actress to play Debra


Viewers could have seen a very different line-up on Everybody Loves Raymond if the network got its way, says the show’s creator.

According to creator Phil Rosenthal, CBS “wanted someone hotter” to play Debra, the onscreen wife of Ray Romano’s character, who was played by actress Patricia Heaton. 

Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment, Rosenthal said he met with an unnamed actress prior to the show’s premiere in 1996 and the network allegedly “insisted” that actress portray Debra Barone in the series. But the seasoned creator didn’t think she was the right fit. 


READ MORE: Everybody Loves Raymond creator wants to do a reunion — but no one else seems to

From left to right: Everybody Loves Raymond star Monica Rosenthal, creator Phil Rosenthal, Patricia Heaton and Ray Romano in 2011. (Getty)

“I almost quit the show over it,” Rosenthal, 61, recalled. “I thought she was wrong, but I met with her and she was a very pleasant, very nice person.

“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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Patricia Heaton and Ray Romano star in Everybody Loves Raymond.
Patricia Heaton and Ray Romano star in Everybody Loves Raymond. (CBS)

Luckily, Rosenthal was able to convince network executives to keep searching for an actress to play Debra — and soon enough, Heaton walked into the audition room. 

“Two weeks later, Patty walked in and within five minutes she had the part. When it’s right, it’s right, and you know it immediately,” Rosenthal revealed. 

READ MORE: What happened to the Sweeten twins on Everybody Loves Raymond?

Patricia Heaton wins Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 2001 for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond in 2001.
Patricia Heaton wins Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2001 for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond. (Getty)

Everybody Loves Raymond was a popular sitcom that followed sports columnist Ray Barone and his dysfunctional Italian-American family. The series ran for nine seasons on CBS before wrapping in 2005. 

Heaton proved a hit in the role of Debra and was popular among viewers. The actress went on to win two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, taking home the gold consecutively in 2000 and 2001. She was also nominated in the same category at five separate ceremonies. 

Everybody Loves Raymond, twins, Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten, what happened
The long-running series Everybody Loves Raymond said farewell in 2005. (Getty)

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