Born in Queens, New York, in 1957, Ray Romano began seriously pursuing a stand-up comedy career in the mid-1980s. His successes landed him a starring role on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for nine seasons and garnered him an Emmy Award. Romano later created the acclaimed Men of a Certain Age, and flexed his dramatic chops for the popular series Parenthood.
Early Years and Career
Actor, comedian. Born on December 21, 1957 in Queens, New York. Raised the middle child of three sons in the neighborhood of Forest Hills, the aspiring funnyman formed the "No Talent" comedy troupe at age 16. Though Romano always knew he could make his friends laugh, he didn't give stand-up serious consideration as a career until many years later.
After graduating from Hillcrest High School, where he was classmates with fellow future entertainer Fran Drescher, Romano enrolled at Queens College in 1975 to study accounting. However, it wasn't until 1984, when he enjoyed a successful open-mic night at a New York City comedy club, that he saw the possibilities for his future. Romano continued to work odd jobs, one of them a futon mattresses deliveryman, until he decided to pursue comedy full time in 1987. His career finally took off when he won a stand-up comedy competition sponsored by a major New York City radio station.
'Everybody Loves Raymond'
Following that success, Romano hired a manager and landed an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In 1995, after appearing on Late Night with David Letterman, the host offered him a development deal with his production company, Worldwide Pants. Through that association, the CBS hit Everybody Loves Raymond was born.
Premiering in September 1996, Everybody Loves Raymond starred Romano as a father and husband whose parents live next door. His offbeat domestic observations struck a chord with both audiences and critics, earning him an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2002 and the series an Emmy for Best Comedy in 2003. The show ended in May 2005 after nine seasons.
The success of Raymond opened other doors for its star. Romano performed at the White House Correspondents Dinner for President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore in 1998, and headlined the Toyota Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall in 1999. That year the comedian also published the best-selling memoir Everything And a Kite.
Romano also made the transition to the big screen. He co-starred with veteran actor Gene Hackman in the 2004 comedy Welcome to Mooseport, and that year also joined the ensemble cast of Eulogy. In addition, Romano provided the voice of the woolly mammoth Manny for the animated hit Ice Age (2002) and its sequels.
In 2009, Romano returned to television with Men of a Certain Age, a "dramedy" he co-wrote and produced that also starred Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. Despite strong critical reception, the show was cancelled after two seasons.
This setback provided Romano with the opportunity to join the cast of Parenthood. Portraying photographer Hank Rizzoli, Romano displayed dramatic chops previously unseen in his comedic roles. Following his introduction to the show in 2012, he remained on board until its finale in January 2015.
Romano was next set to assume a prominent role in HBO's Vinyl, a drama about the music industry amid the wild times of the 1970s. Not forgetting his roots, the funnyman also continues to perform stand-up gigs for his fans.
Romano married his wife, Anna (née Scarpulla), in 1987. They have a daughter named Alexandra, twin boys, Matthew and Gregory, and a third son named Joseph.
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