It’s a good thing Patricia Heaton is comfortable as the frazzled matriarch. The 54-year-old actress went from playing the long-suffering wife and mother in CBS’ megahit “Everybody Loves Raymond” to the role of blue-collar struggling mom on ABC’s heartland sitcom “The Middle.”
But despite those beloved characters, with their purposely frumpy fashion and unattractive hairdos, Heaton wouldn’t mind seeing another, more glamorous side of Hollywood.
“I wish I could score just one ‘Sex and the City’ kind of show where I could wear nice dresses and high heels,” Heaton told the L.A. Times in a video interview in 2011. “But I’m thankful for what I have.”
Heaton, a mother of four sons herself, rode the “Raymond” wave to two Emmy Awards during the series’ nine-year stint and became a household name for portraying the stalwart Debra to costar Ray Romano’s happy-go-lucky manchild.
Diving back in to the family comedy world for “The Middle,” Heaton told The Times that she welcomed a show from the mom’s perspective. She also wanted to be part of a series that touted Midwestern values but retained a sharp comic edge.
“I relate to it a lot,” said the Ohio native. “It’s a mom trying to raise kids, money’s tight. Yet it keeps the warmth and humanity of the situation and has fun with it.”
Heaton, who started her career in live theater, racked up a number of TV roles before her breakout in “Raymond.” She starred in CBS’ “Women of the House” and had a recurring part on ABC’s seminal drama “thirtysomething.” A number of feature films have followed since, including “Beethoven” and “Space Jam.”
Often called one of the funniest women working in television, Heaton has built a loyal following outside her shows by talking about her life, warts and all. As the face of Everywoman, she stars in commercials for the Albertsons grocery store chain. She published a book of autobiographical essays in 2003 called “Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get a Job Like Mine” that the Washington Post hailed as “verbally fearless.”
Also an outspoken Christian, Heaton is active in conservative groups like Feminists for Life, which opposes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and the death penalty. She said in a 2011 interview that she and her husband, actor-producer David Hunt, had been shut out of work in Hollywood because of their political views but that it wouldn’t soften their stance. She’s active in social media, with nearly 80,000 Twitter followers, whom she’s dubbed Tweatons.