The ensemble cast of the CBS comedy favorite, Everybody Loves Raymond, was a top-notch group of actors. Each performer was perfectly cast in their role that made the show a classic family sitcom.
Before the show hit the airwaves, before it was even a seed of an idea in executive producer and creator Phil Rosenthal’s mind, one of its actors was floundering in their career.
So much so that, somewhere along the way, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was recruited to talk them out of the thespian life.
Patricia Heaton’s father was well-known sportswriter Chuck Heaton
Heaton’s father was a renowned sportswriter for The Plain Dealer. He spent over 50 years at the newspaper, covering sports for the Ohio area.
Chuck, who died of pneumonia in 2008 at age 90, wasn’t crazy about his daughter’s career choice.
In 2002, the journalist wrote an essay looking back on how uneasy he felt seeing his daughter Patricia struggle in her chosen field. As he wrote in Cleveland magazine at that time, “My daughter Patty certainly has gone on to do great things with her talent, and you can be sure I’m very proud of her,” he wrote.
“Not that I’m taking any credit. Perhaps the best thing I did — besides put food on the table, pay tuition, and make her go to church on Sunday — was to stay out of her way.”
Once Patricia began gaining role after role, as her father wrote, he began to relax and enjoy her success.
“But I was there to see her rise to the top of show business. It began at a St. Edward’s High School production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” I saw her in a three-hour Huntington Playhouse production of “Showboat” more than once, and enjoyed a Pabst Blue Ribbon commercial that made her quite a bit of dough.”
Chuck Heaton asked for George Steinbrenner’s help in talking sense to his daughter
The sportswriter reached out to one of his Cleveland sports connections, George Steinbrenner, who had become owner of the New York Yankees.
As Patricia’s brother, Michael, told A&E’s Biography in 2003, their father took matters into his own hands in a final effort to get Patricia to give up what was looking like her failed attempt at acting.
He had Steinbrenner get involved. The Yankees owner, in turn, brought in American theatrical producer James Nederlander, to talk to Patricia. The setting? Legendary, swanky (and since then closed) restaurant Elaine’s in New York City.
“George Steinbrenner invited Patty to dinner at Elaine’s with Jimmy Nederlander, of the Nederlander Theater, big Broadway impresario. And Patty shows up under-dressed and ill-prepared,” Michael said.
Steinbrenner let the theater big-wig do all the talking
The Yanks’ owner himself was interviewed as well by Biography, saying “I remember her, yes I do. I remember particularly, the blue jeans. I thought probably he was gonna say, ‘Honey, you’d better go home.’ That would be the best advice he could give her.”
As it turned out, Nederlander did not tell Patricia to go home. But he also didn’t have work for someone with such limited experience.
Patricia looked back on the intervention of sorts, and agreed the young woman Steinbrenner and Nederlander met wasn’t by any means ready to be an actor.
“Talent-wise, I was not prepared enough, I did not have enough of a craft developed. And emotionally, I was very immature,” she said.
Patricia, now a respected and well-known actor in her own right, eventually took her craft seriously.
Ultimately, she earned a spot on thirtysomething, which got the wheels of her career rolling and gave her the confidence to land the role of Debra on Everybody Loves Raymond.
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