A true-to-life case of childhood dreams coming true, one gets the impression that the success of humble comedian turned actor Ray Romano is more of a surprise to him than it is to those who supported him in his years as a struggling futon deliveryman moonlighting in standup. Born in Queens, NY, in 1957 and raised in nearby Forest Hills, Queens, Romano found happiness early in life by tickling the funny bones of family, friends, and of course, girls. The middle child of three sons, the aspiring funnyman refined his comic talents when he formed the bravely titled "No Talent" comedy troupe at age 16 to the delight of the congregation they regularly performed for. Romano later put his spotlight aspirations on hold when he enrolled in Queens College as an accountants major after graduating high school in 1975. Dabbling in odd jobs as he developed his stage skills on the late-night comedy circuit, Romano began an exhausting decade-long struggle to succeed as a standup while holding a more reliable day job. Married to wife Anna in the mid-'80s, Romano decided to pursue comedy full-time in 1987. It was shortly after winning a N.Y.C. radio station-sponsored comedy contest two years later that Romano acquired a manager and his dreams began to become a reality. One of those dreams, to perform in front of legendary late-night television host Johnny Carson, came true in 1991. Finally gaining national exposure and seemingly on the fast track to stardom, more television appearances soon followed, with a 1995 appearance on Late Night With David Letterman prompting Letterman to begin talks with Romano about the idea of developing a sitcom. Premiering in September 13, 1996, Everyboy Loves Raymond found the now-popular comic's offbeat domestic observations striking a chord with both audiences and critics alike. Nominated multiple times for numerous awards (including three Emmy and two Golden Globes), ELR carried on well into the new millennium, which saw the now-established comic branching out into other arenas as well. A June 1999 recording of a Carnegie Hall performance was nominated for a Grammy, and his novel Everything and a Kite turned up on the New York Times bestseller list. Television appearances on Hollywood Squares, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and a somber turn in America: A Tribute to Heroes found American households increasingly willing to welcome the good-humored everyman into their homes. It was only a matter of time before Romano tackled feature films, and with his vocal role in 2002's Ice Age, the likable comic did just that. A lighthearted animated romp which followed the adventures of a group of animals weathering the new frozen landscape in order to return a human child to its father, Ice Age gave Disney a run for their money and further proved that popular computer-animated family fare was no longer exclusive to the Mouse House. Romano lent his voice to the Ice Age franchise again in 2006 for Ice Age: The Meltdown, as well as Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in 2009. The actor delivered a solid performance in a supporting role for 2007's The Grand, a mockumentary following a television star trying to win a high-stakes poker tournament, and was praised for his lead performance in TNT's comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Attended high school with Fran Drescher; years later appeared as Ray Barone on her sitcom The Nanny.
- Studied accounting for seven years in college, but never graduated.
- Met his wife when both were working as tellers at a bank.
- In 1989, won $10,000 in a stand-up competition.
- Originally cast on NewsRadio, but was replaced after two rehearsals by Joe Rogan.
- Big break came in 1994 with an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, which led to the development of Everybody Loves Raymond.
- Wrote a nonfiction book called Everything and a Kite (1998) about his observations on life and family.
- Competed in the World Series of Poker in 2008.
- When Everybody Loves Raymond ended in 2005, he was the highest paid actor in TV history, earning $1.7 million per episode.