‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: Why Patricia Heaton Caused the Studio Audience for the Finale to Be Sent Home
When Everybody Loves Raymond aired its final episode in May 2005, viewers probably weren’t aware of the tumult the cast and crew had to deal with behind the scenes in the week leading up to the big finale.
The cast of Ray Romano (Ray), Patricia Heaton (Debra), Brad Garrett (Robert), Doris Roberts (Marie), and Peter Boyle (Frank) always filmed before a live audience. Yet those lucky enough to witness the Barone’s farewell actually had to leave before seeing a performance.
The cast comments on the ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Finale
In a conversation with Larry King just before the Everybody Loves Raymond finale aired, Romano, Heaton, and Garrett gave some hints on the last episode.
“It has a finale feel to it. But, you know, we kept true to ourselves,” Romano shared. “It’s not spectacular, and there’s no life-changing thing. But it has a little more emotional resonance, I think.”
Revealing that they had filmed the finale months earlier, Romano wanted to keep the same 30-minute format rather than stretching the episode.
“It’s a half hour,” the sitcom star told King. “You know, we didn’t want to do an hour. We didn’t want to take a half hour show and stretch it into an hour like normally that happens. We just did a funny episode.”
Emotions ran high on the last day of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
The co-stars spoke of the emotional impact of coming to the end of their nine-season run.
“We talked about it all year, actually, like, how we were going to feel on the final episode and what our reactions were going to be,” Heaton explained. “I thought I was going to be real shutdown because it’s too big of a thing — too much has happened to us because of this show and I just didn’t think I’d be able to deal with it.
Romano admitted he got choked up when he saw Peter Boyle, who played irritable tough guy Frank Barone, get misty-eyed.
“I was keeping it together, and when we came out for the curtain call and Peter hugged me and I saw tears in his eyes,” the Parenthood star recalled. “I know him as Peter, but I also know him as Frank the curmudgeon and this and that, and that was kind of heavy when I saw that.”
Patricia Heaton gets laryngitis
While the cast and crew were expecting a moving performance, no one was prepared for Heaton to lose her voice.
“From the first day of rehearsal, I sobbed the whole day,” she told King. “Then when we got to the taping of the show, I lost my voice, and we couldn’t do it.”
Romano recalled having to send home the studio audience for the first time in nine seasons.
“When we were ready to film the episode, literally, as we were ready to be introduced,” the Everybody Loves Raymond alum explained. “Patty, in the beginning of the day, her voice was hoarse, so we waited, we waited. At showtime, the voice was gone. We had to send the audience home and do it the following week.”
According to Phil Rosenthal’s book, You’re Lucky You’re Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom, the plan was to film the finale a few days later and then head to the wrap party. But then another co-star developed the same ailment as Heaton.
“The big wrap party was scheduled for Sunday anyway, so we would do the show, then go to the big party,” Rosenthal recalled. “It actually was going to work out well. Except it didn’t. Patty’s voice did not come back Sunday, and now, not to be outdone, Doris Roberts had lost her voice. To top it off, Peter Boyle had come down with a cold.”
Later that week, all cast members were back in top form. “That Friday, everyone was in perfect health,” Rosenthal wrote. We had done a couple of brush-up rehearsals, actually making ‘Finale’ our most rehearsed episode.”