published Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Expo guest Doris Roberts has a simple message for Chattanooga

If You Go

• What: Life: A Boomers & Seniors Expo.

• When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.

• Admission: $5. Tickets available at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Trust Federal Credit Union locations or online at timesfreepress.com/lifeexpo.

• Note: Parking for this event is free at the Chattanooga Convention Center, as well as at the Siskin Children's Institute and SunTrust Bank nearby.

About the expo

Life: A Boomers & Seniors Expo will feature vendors offering new products, health screenings, financial planning, assisted living, real estate opportunities, shopping, home improvement ideas, travel, recreation and fitness and informative seminars.

Doris Roberts' Emmy Awards

• 1983: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series ("St. Elsewhere")

• 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series ("Everybody Loves Raymond")

• She was nominated six other times -- three times for "Raymond," and once each for "Remington Steel," "Perfect Strangers" and "The Sunshine Gang."

Doris Roberts almost got to knock out Betty White.

Roberts has appeared in a number of TV and film roles in recent months, including an episode of "Desperate Housewives" this year. Last year she appeared in an episode of "Hot in Cleveland," co-starring fellow Emmy Award winner White.

"Originally, she was supposed to sock me and knock me out, and then later I get to knock her out," Roberts said. "She did hers, but when it came time for me to knock her out, they wouldn't let me. Something about insurance. Two older ladies socking each other might have been interesting I think."

Roberts has earned five Emmy awards during her almost six-decade career as an actress.

Four of the awards have been for comedic roles as the sharp-tongued mother she played on "Everybody Loves Raymond," but she also won an Emmy for playing a homeless woman who has both feet amputated on a 1983 episode of "St. Elsewhere."

Among her most recent roles was a bit in the Tyler Perry film "Madea's Witness Protection."

"I love doing independent movies, and I adored working with Tyler Perry," she said.

Roberts is the featured guest at this year's Life: A Boomers & Seniors Expo on Saturday. She said in a telephone interview that she is looking forward to talking about her career and sharing her simple message.

"Choose to be happy," she said. "In my research, I read that 50 percent of our happiness is tied to genetics. The rest is up to us, so I tell everyone to choose to be happy."

The 72-year-old actress appeared on Broadway for 21 years before being talked into moving to California to be a part of the cast on "The Lily Tomlin Comedy Hour" by the star herself.

"We won an Emmy that first year, but the network didn't pick us up. They picked up Howard Cosell instead. Can you believe that?"

Roberts didn't sit around for long, though, signing on with Sid Caesar's national tour of "Last of the Red Hot Lovers." She was then asked to co-star in "Maude," along with Bea Arthur. After a pilot was shot, however, Roberts said, the producers thought she and Arthur were too much alike, and they cut Roberts from the show.

Roberts said getting cut was a setback but that her life has turned out OK.

"Bea and I were old friends from New York," Roberts said. "At first I was terribly shocked. When I got the role it meant moving to California and a different life. I came out here, and they said we were like twins. I didn't agree, but what could I do?"

In 1979, she was cast in the hit TV show "Angie," and she later co-starred in "Remington Steele." "Raymond" has been her biggest role and one for which she is eternally grateful, she said.

"It was wonderful," she said. "All the scripts were based on reality. The things we did really happened."

She said she especially enjoyed working with the late Peter Boyle, who played her husband on the show.

"We'd never met, but the minute we walked onstage the first time, it was like we'd been married for 45 years," Roberts said. "I loved him, and I miss him."

"Raymond" made her a star around the world, and she loves talking to fans.

"It's now on in 160 countries. I was in India, and three different people came up to me and told me how much they love the show. That's extraordinary.

"There is nowhere that I go that I am not recognized, and people always ask if it annoys me. I love it. People who come up to me are always smiling. It's wonderful."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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