‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: Robert’s Quirks Were Taken Directly from Ray Romano’s Real Brother

Everybody Loves Raymond is one of those easy sitcoms that anyone can sit down in the middle of and understand the plot. Ray Barone and his wife, Debra Barone, lived directly across the street from Ray’s overbearing parents and his perpetually-depressed older brother, Robert Barone. For nine seasons, fans watched as both Ray and Debra dealt with the Barone family. While the show was largely about Ray and Debra, Robert, who was portrayed by Brad Garrett, was a breakout star. At 6’8, he commanded attention, but did you know that some of his quirks were inspired by Ray Romano’s real life?

Ray Romano’s life was slightly different from his on-screen persona, though

While much of Everybody Loves Raymond was based on Romano’s real-life family, there are elements of Romano’s real-life that never made it onto the show. Romano actually has two brothers, not just one. Robert’s character was a mix of both of Romano’s real brothers, Richard and Robert Romano. Richard Romano, an NYPD sergeant, was born in 1956. Ray Romano was born in 1957, and the family’s third son, Robert Romano, a school teacher, was born in 1966.

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Romano’s on-screen character had three children, but in real life, Romano and his wife, Anna Scarpulla, actually have four children. The couple, who married in 1987, welcomed their first daughter, Alexandra Romano, in 1990. The couple’s twins, Gregory and Matthew Romano, were born in 1993. In 1998, the couple welcomed their fourth child, Joseph Romano. Joseph was born when the show was in its third season, but writers opted not to write in a pregnancy for Debra and Raymond. However, the concept of having a fourth child was explored in an episode were the couple grappled with selling their children’s crib.

Is Robert Barone based on Ray Romano’s real brother?

The character of Robert was loosely based on Romano’s real brother, Richard. In fact, the parrels were too close for comfort for the NYPD officer who didn’t particularly care for some of his quirks and feelings being used for comedic relief. Robert, however, was different from Richard in a few key ways. Originally, when the team was casting for the role of Robert, they were looking for someone shorter than Romano, who, at 6’2, is of above-average height.

Marie, Ray, Frank and Robert Barone
The Barone family from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ | Robert Voets/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

According to several interviews, the team behind the show were hoping to cast someone shorter because Romano’s real brother is shorter, and they liked the idea of an older brother physically looking up to his younger sibling. Garrett, however, walked into the room and instantly won the role. Garrett was the opposite of what the team was looking for, but his mannerisms were so spot on that they decided to make his exceptional height part of the storyline.

Robert’s “crazy chin” was taken directly from Ray Romano’s real life

One of Robert’s most significant quirks is what the show referred to as his “crazy chin.” In several episodes, Robert was seen eating, but before he put a spoon in his mouth, he would touch it to his chin. An entire episode focused on why Robert was compelled to touch his chin while eating. Eventually, the family realized Robert developed the habit as a way of self-soothing after his younger brother, Raymond, came into the family and took away the attention he had previously received.

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The quirk was actually something Romano’s older brother, Richard, did, according to Today. Richard, who wasn’t anywhere near as tall as Romano’s on-screen brother, apparently also experienced some jealousy toward his younger brother. Whether his chin habit had anything to do with sibling rivalry is unknown, though.