‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: Peter Boyle’s Frank Broke Character Twice on the Series

For nine seasons, Everybody Loves Raymond kept viewers laughing. The ensemble cast brought the dysfunctional but loving family of the show to life in a way that many people identified with.

The show continues to be popular today, 15 years after it ended. One of the important parts of this cast was Peter Boyle, a talented actor who played Frank, the patriarch of the family on Everybody Loves Raymond.

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ was drawn from real life. 

Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond cast | Robert Voets/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: Two ‘Friends’ Stars Almost Played Debra Before Patricia Heaton Snagged the Role

The show was created to loosely resemble the family life of its co-creator, Dan Rosenthal. When he saw comedian Ray Romano doing stand-up, he realized Romano’s family life was similar to his, and he brought him into the project, adding his perspective to round out the world of the Barones.

This was the family the show was centered around, a tight-knit Italian group, and the show mined the family relationships for comedy gold. 

In the series, Ray, his wife Debra, and their three kids live across the street from Ray’s parents and brother. The parents, Frank and Marie, provide many of the show’s laughs with their oddball and sometimes intrusive brand of love. Although the show wasn’t always realistic, many people found it to be a relatable glimpse into family life. 

Boyle, who played Frank, was an important part of the cast. But one of the factors that led to him getting the part was a mistake. 

Peter Boyle and Frank Barone

Peter Boyle
Peter Boyle | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

When Boyle was on his way to audition for the part of Frank, he got lost. His wife was with him, and she repeatedly asked if he knew where he was going. By the time he arrived, he was annoyed and gruff with people — perfect for the role of Frank. 

Boyle’s path to acting was unusual. He joined the religious order known as the Christian Brothers and studied to become a monk. He left the order after three years, however, and as he put it, “through a series of incredibly stupid errors, became an actor.”

He went on to become an extremely accomplished character actor, playing roles such as a violent factory worker in Joe and the monster in Young Frankenstein. Although he often played threatening characters, such as his role in Taxi Driver, he was perfectly at home in the lovable-but-gruff role of Frank. It ended up being the last character he would play.

During his years on the show, Boyle had a heart attack. He recovered and returned to the show, staying with it through its end in 2005. Sadly, he died the next year of multiple myeloma and heart disease. 

2 nods to his real-life career

Everybody Loves Raymond was heavily based on people’s real-life experiences, but Boyle only brought his past events into the show twice. In the show “Halloween Candy,” Boyle delivered a monologue about mortality that the public had seen once before. He’d performed it in the movie Taxi Driver, delivering it to Robert De Niro’s character. He also dressed up as Frankenstein’s monster in the episode. This costume called to mind his work in the movie Young Frankenstein

Given the current trend of reuniting the cast of old sitcoms, the idea of a reunion of Everybody Loves Raymond has been suggested. However, because Boyle and the actor who played his wife, Doris Roberts, have both died, the likelihood of a reunion is slim

Despite Boyle’s long resume in the world of acting, those were the only two winks to his previous work during his years as Frank. Boyle was a man of many talents, and he left behind a diverse and impressive body of work. For fans of Everybody Loves Raymond, though, he’ll always be remembered as the gruff and endearing Frank Barone.