Patty Heaton Recalls Growing Up in Bay
Patty Heaton, Emmy award winning star of TV hits ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ and ‘The Middle’ came to town last week as keynote speaker for Tri-C’s Presidential Scholarship Luncheon held at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Public Square.
Her address was staged in interview fashion with local TV personality Christi Paul handling the questions.
Of course, Paul almost immediately asked Heaton for memories of growing up in Bay Village. Heaton had many!
Remembering St. Raphael
“I had always been performing. I went to St. Raphael School and I would go out onto the playground and make up a song. Then I would go in and announce to Sr. Delrina that I had a song for the class and I would like to perform. Also, when we got that first Barbara Streisand album, ‘My name is Barbara,’ I memorized all those songs and told Sr. Delrina that I had a few selections.”
She compared Bay Village to ‘Mayberry’ and reminisced about the family’s time growing up on Midland Road. Patty’s dad was noted Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Chuck Heaton. Her brother was Michael Heaton, Plain Dealer entertainment writer and famed “Minister of Culture.”
She talked about her school days at St. Raphael and performing with the Jazz Band as a vocalist at Bay High.
Her own children grew up in Los Angeles. And they loved coming to town and experiencing the home-town atmosphere that their mom enjoyed growing up in Bay. “They’d say, ‘Mom, everybody rides their bikes everywhere! And then they just leave them on the front lawn and nobody steals them!’”
It was all part of a very special day that saw Tri-C raise $850,000 to date in critical funds to help Tri-C students with financial needs pursue higher education and achieve their academic goals.
A Great Dad
“My dad was working very hard at the time. He was a widower and working very hard (at the Plain Dealer). Those deadlines were tough on him on the weekends. He couldn’t come to see me in the musical at Huntington Playhouse – the 3-hour community version of Showboat! At that time he hadn’t married my wonderful stepmother Cece yet. But all the widows in St. Raphael’s parish he was dating all wanted to see me in Showboat. So he had to see it three times!”
“He (dad) was surprised and not happy when I graduated from OSU and told him I was moving to New York. He gave me $800 and said, ‘Good luck!’ He was a great kind of dad who didn’t understand what I was doing. But he would come to New York and see the play I was in….he was always there showing up for it. You don’t need to understand your kids to support them.”
“For me, I didn’t care if my family came. I just needed to get up and perform. I wasn’t doing it for anybody’s approval. I didn’t need anybody to see it. Back in the day, parents didn’t have to be their kid’s best friend. In some ways, there’s some benefit to that. But I also think it’s good to know your kids a little bit better and show up for them. It’s a balance of involvement in your child’s life. They have to fall on their face and discover stuff for themselves, too.”
Keeping it Low Key
I was working on a show with Kelsy Grammer and he didn’t like to rehearse. So I would go in at 10 and I would be home by 1. I never told the kids I was working on a show. I would drop them off at school, go in and work for a few hours and go home and pick them up from school. They didn’t know I was working until my son came home and said, ‘Mom, are you on a show?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, how did you know?’ ‘Well, there’s a billboard across from school with your picture on it!’
Surviving New York
‘After I moved to New York, when my dad said ‘no,’ and after he gave me $800, he said, ‘Call George Steinbrenner (another Bay native). ‘ George was from Cleveland and head of the Yankees. Dad knew him from sportswriting. So I did. And George Steinbrenner sent a car for me to my little dump in Hell’s Kitchen. And took me to lunch with these heads Broadway (the Nedrerlanders), and set me up with a meeting. It was way beyond what I was ready for. It really didn’t translate to anything workwise. But did have 7 or 8 survival jobs. I ran the Xerox machine at People Magazine, I modeled shoes, I hosted at restaurants, I summarized depositions at law firms. I just had many, many jobs to pay for acting lessons, pay for head shots. And therapy!
All images: 2022 Tri-C Presidential Scholarship Luncheon