‘Maude’ Nearly Cast TV Legend Doris Roberts in Rue McClanahan’s Role

by Joe Rutland
maude-nearly-cast-tv-legend-doris-roberts-in-rue-mcclanahans-role

Doris Roberts, who made a name for herself in TV, movies, and on stage, almost found herself as part of the cast for CBS’ hit sitcom “Maude.”

It didn’t work out. Roberts, known as Marie Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” was looked at to play Vivian on “Maude” in a role that would go to Rue McClanahan.

“I got a call from Los Angeles and it was Bea Arthur’s show ‘Maude,'” Roberts said in an interview for the Archive of American Television. Similarly, the interview is done prior to her death on April 17, 2016, at 90 years old.

“And they asked if I could come out. I said, ‘No, I’m in the middle of a summer stock production and I can’t get out,'” she said. “‘Can you get someone to replace you?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I have not tried.'”

Roberts tried. Therefore, she called the show producer. “‘So how many more weeks do you have?'” Roberts was asked. “I said, ‘Three.'”

‘Maude’ Producers Got Roberts Into Los Angeles For Tryout

However, Roberts said “Maude” producers waited for her. She arrived in Los Angeles on a red-eye flight.

She goes on the set, in addition, and starts chatting with Arthur, who is an old friend of hers.

“We were wearing outfits done by the same woman in New York called bebe,” Roberts said. “And she said, ‘I got it in brown.’ (Roberts) said, ‘I got it in purple.’ She said, ‘I got it in black.’ I said, ‘I got it in blue.’ We did kind of a routine together.”

Roberts said Arthur, the “Maude” star, drove her back to the hotel and let her in on a secret.

“(Arthur) said, ‘You know, they want you to play this character as a regular. Would you like to do that?'” Roberts also said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, I had no idea.’ She said, ‘Honey, do it.'” Therefore, Arthur tells Roberts she would make “more money in one day than you will in a week on Broadway.”

Show Producer Tells Roberts She’s Out, Yet It Turns Into A Blessing

Roberts felt like this whole thing was really exciting. However, her hopes were about to be dashed.

“I got to the room that I was staying at the little motel,” she said. Her phone rang and it is “Maude” producer Rod Parker on the line. “He said, ‘Oh I’m glad I caught you in your room,'” Roberts said. “I said, ‘Where would I go?'”

He went to her room and said, “Honey, we made a mistake.”

She asked, “What do you mean?” Parker says, “You’re like a little Bea Arthur.” In other words, she was cut from “Maude” without appearing on the show. That part she tried out for ultimately went to McClanahan.

What was the upside for Roberts? Obviously, a lot of offers for work. In conclusion, she said, “It never stopped. It was wonderful.”

Outsider.com