Childhood & Early Life
Doris was born Doris May Green, on November 4, 1925, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Russian Jewish immigrant couple, Ann and Larry Green. Her mother raised her single-handedly, as her father had left the family. Doris grew up at her maternal grandparents' home in The Bronx, New York.
Doris took the surname of her stepfather, Chester H Roberts. She graduated from 'DeWitt Clinton High School' in The Bronx, New York City, in 1942. She later attended 'New York University' but dropped out to pursue acting full-time.
Doris studied acting at 'The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre' in New York City. She briefly worked as a typist for the 'Fashion Calendar' in New York.
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Doris began her acting career through TV, when she was featured in single-episode roles on the shows 'Starlight Theatre' (1951), 'Studio One in Hollywood' (1952), and 'Look Up and Live' (1954). She simultaneously ventured into theater in 1955 and delivered her initial stage performances in the 'The Time of Your Life' and 'The Desk Set as Miss Rumple.'
That decade, Doris appeared on several TV shows. She made her film debut in 1961, with a brief role as the protagonist's co-worker in the independent sexual-abuse drama 'Something Wild.' Continuing with her stage projects, she performed in 'Marathon '33,' 'The Office,' 'The Natural Look,' and 'Last of the Red Hot Lovers.'
She portrayed ‘Mrs. Cantrow’ in the 1972 dark romantic comedy 'The Heartbreak Kid.' Following this, she played ‘Dolly Scupp’ in the stage production 'Bad Habits.' Doris made a short recurring appearance as ‘Flo Flotsky’ in four episodes of the 'ABC' sitcom 'Soap.'
In 1979, Doris was seen in her first long recurring role (spanning 36 episodes) as ‘Theresa Falco,’ the protagonist's mother in the 'ABC' sitcom 'Angie.' Later, in 1982, she appeared in an episode of the ‘NBC’ medical drama 'St. Elsewhere,' titled 'Cora and Arnie.' Her supporting role of homeless ‘Cora’ won her a ‘Primetime Emmy Award.'
The following year, Doris joined the cast of the second season of the 'NBC' series 'Remington Steele,' as the recurring character ‘Mildred Krebs.’ The character was, however, made one of the main characters in the subsequent seasons. It later brought Doris a 'Primetime Emmy' nomination. Her next 'Primetime' nominations were for the characters ‘Mrs. Bailey’ (from an episode of the 'ABC' sitcom 'Perfect Strangers') and ‘Mimi Finkelstein’ (from the 'PBS' anthology 'American Playhouse').
Doris's breakthrough role on TV was that of ‘Marie Barone’ in the 'CBS' sitcom 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' She competed with 100 other actors to bag the role. Doris portrayed the annoying, dominating, manipulative, and over-nurturing mother of the male protagonist, ‘Raymond,’ played by Ray Romano, in 210 episodes, from 1996 to 2005.
Doris’s performance as ‘Marie Barone’ earned her four 'Primetime Emmy Awards’ and several nominations for the same. Additionally, she was nominated for awards by the 'Online Film & Television Association,' the 'American Film Institute,' and the 'Screen Actors Guild.'
While working on 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' Doris made prominent appearances in TV movies such as 'One True Love' (as ‘Lillian,’ 2000), 'A Time to Remember' (as ‘Maggie Calhoun,’ 2003), and 'Raising Waylon' (as ‘Great Aunt Marie,’ 2004).
Doris shared screen space (as ‘Ms. Rinsky’) with her 'Everybody Loves Raymond' co-star Patricia Heaton in three episodes of the 'ABC' sitcom 'The Middle.' She appeared in the 2015 short 'Zizi and Honeyboy' (as ‘Zizi’) and was nominated for the ‘Best Actress in a Short Film’ award at the 'Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival.' Doris's final film appearance was as ‘Mrs. Samantha Adams’ in the 2016 Canadian–American crime drama 'The Red Maple Leaf.'
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Doris was inducted into the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame' on February 2003. In May 2005, she was honored with a doctorate of fine arts by the 'University of South Carolina.' She received the 'Ellis Island Medal of Honor' on May 7, 2011. Doris was felicitated with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the 'CineRockom International Film Festival.'
In 2001, Doris co-founded the 'Doris Roberts-William Goyen Fellowship in Fiction' in collaboration with the 'Christopher Isherwood Foundation.' The fellowship is awarded annually in an attempt to support talented upcoming writers.
On September 4, 2002, Doris was presented before a US congressional panel to testify for the prevalence of age discrimination in Hollywood. She was a registered ‘Democrat’ and an ardent animal rights advocate. She had worked with the group 'Puppies Behind Bars.'
Doris served as the chairperson of the 'Children with AIDS Foundation.' She was a celebrity spokesperson for 'Glade' products.
She co-wrote 'Are You Hungry, Dear? Life, Laughs, and Lasagna,' along with Danelle Morton, which was published by 'St. Martin's Press' in 2003. The book was a memoir and contained some of Doris's favorite recipes.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Doris's mother worked at the 'Z.L. Rosenfield Agency,' which was a stenographic service for playwrights and actors.
Doris was married to Michael Cannata from 1956 to 1962. They had a son, Michael Cannata, Jr., who was born in 1957. Their son later became her manager. Doris later married stage-play writer William Goyen in 1963 and remained with him until his death from leukemia in 1983. She had three grandchildren: Kelsey, Andrew, and Devon.
Doris had suffered from pulmonary hypertension for several years before her death. She died peacefully in her sleep on the morning of April 17, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. The following month, a public event was held at the 'Ambassador Theatre' in her memory. It was the same place where she had appeared in 'The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild’ in 1972.
She was buried at the 'Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary' in Los Angeles, California.