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The guy that everyone loves is from Forest Hills

By Greater Astoria Historical Society

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, the TimesLedger newspaper presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history

Best known for his leading role in the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Ray Romano was born Dec. 21, 1957 and grew up in Forest Hills. His mother, Lucie, was a piano teacher, and his father, Albert, was an engineer who also sold real estate. The famed actor is the middle of three Romano sons. His older brother Richard was a sergeant with the NYPD and younger brother Robert is a school teacher. The Queens native lives in Los Angeles with his wife Anne and four children and is a competitive golfer and poker player when not acting.

The future celebrity graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1975, a classmate of television star Fran Drescher. The comic actor went on to study accounting at Queens College, but after working odd jobs he found his true calling after leaving the audience in stitches at a comedy open mic night in 1984. After refining his stand-up routine on Comedy Central and “The Late Show with David Letterman” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Romano landed his own CBS show in “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The hit sitcom enjoyed a popular nine-year run starting in 1996 and garnered Romano a 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The series was also financially rewarding for the Queens native, as he became the highest-paid TV actor in history, with a nearly $50 million paycheck for the 2004 season.

While working on the hit show, the lead actor also appeared in a 1997 episode of “Cosby,” and later in several runs of “The King of Queens,” starring his friend Kevin James. In 2005 he voiced a character on “The Simpsons,” also named Ray, who bore a close resemblance to Romano.

Not content to be known for one blockbuster series, Romano quickly moved on after his hit show ended the following year. For two seasons starting in 2009, he starred in the TNT comic drama “Men of a Certain Age,” a Peabody Award-winning series that confronted the realities of being middle-aged. The Hollywood celebrity from Forest Hills even made a cameo in season seven of “The Office” as an anxious job applicant, and in 2012 he joined the cast of the NBC drama series “Parenthood.”

He has also made a splash on the Silver Screen. Since 2002, Romano has been the voice of the wooly mammoth Manny in the movie series “Ice Age.” In 2004, the documentary film “95 Miles to Go” followed him on a stand-up comedy tour, and five years later he made a cameo as himself in the comedy-drama “Funny People” starring Adam Sandler. In 2014, Ray Romano’s career in a sense came full-circle with his role in the crime-drama “Rob the Mob,” based on a true story of a couple back in Queens who robbed Mafia social clubs.

When not acting or doing stand-up, the local kid who made it big likes to try his luck in the World Series of Poker. He has participated seven times since 2007, but has yet to take home the $10 million first-place prize. As a golfer, he has also appeared in a celebrity series on The Golf Channel and is a regular competitor in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

This celebrity actor, stand-up comic and competitive golfer has never lost his sense of humor after 30 years in the limelight. Speaking at the 2000 Golden Globe Awards, Romano reflected on his own rise to stardom by proclaiming “I feel like this is a dream—and I apologize for how I dressed some of you.”

For further information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit our website at www.astorialic.org.

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