FORT WAYNE – Actress Patricia Heaton won over the audience of more than 1,400 when she began listing her various cosmetic surgeries just so you don’t have to wait for the National Enquirer to uncover it.
She also said that for most of her life she had been on a diet – and consequently, had suffered a lifetime of hunger.
Heaton, an Emmy award-winning actress, producer, best-selling author and mother of four boys, was the keynote speaker at Tapestry – A Day for You at Memorial Coliseum. This is the 11th year for the popular women’s forum, hosted by IPFW and Parkview Women’s Heath Center. The event has raised more than $450,000 in local scholarships for those majoring in human services and health-related studies.
Heaton became famous for her role as the harried wife, mother and daughter-in-law in Everybody Loves Raymond, a CBS television sitcom that ran from 1996 to 2005. The show garnered many awards, with Heaton winning two Emmys for outstanding lead actress for her portrayal of Debra Barone, Raymond’s wife.
Heaton’s current role is Frankie Heck, a multitasking working mom on the ABC sitcom, The Middle, which profiles the semidysfunctional family and their everyday lives in Orson, Ind.
I just had to come to Indiana, said Heaton, who lives in Los Angeles but was raised in Ohio.
Heaton’s candid and humorous insights on marriage, motherhood, vanity and raising four sons – all while balancing a career – kept the audience laughing for almost the entire 90 minutes of her speech.
Heaton’s focus involved how to navigate through the transitions that most women face in their lifetimes.
Heaton tries to keep a sense of normalcy while raising her four boys – ages 13, 15, 17 and 18 – despite the fact that they are living privileged lives, she said.
She has tried to arrange her schedule so that she was home when the boys went to school and again when they came home. There were times, she said, when she was busy working on a sitcom and her boys were not aware what she was doing until they saw her photo on a marquee.
As they grew older, they learned that their mother was a well-known actress and now have a certain pride in her work, she said.
Heaton knows about that kind of pride. She remembers, as a child, accompanying her father, Charles Chuck Heaton Jr., a longtime sports journalist, commentator and reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
Wherever we went, people knew who he was and would stop to talk, Heaton said.
Heaton, a devout Catholic, encourages her boys to volunteer at church and to serve on missions.
They know they are privileged, yet they are aware there’s another side, Heaton said.
Heaton offered some sound life counseling for the mostly female audience:
On getting organized: The two best things that spur a person to organize are death and children, and sometimes it seems they are the same.
On coping with stress: Have female friends that will listen to your rants and offer support during trying times.
On raising children: Relax. They do not have to be in a fancy, private school. Just send them out in the world to be good citizens.
On looking great: I’ve had a little help – Botox, breast surgery, tummy tuck, gel nails and, oh yeah, you know that vitamin E thing for reducing cellulite? Forget that – I had liposuction – works great.
On women and marriage: Hang in there and keep your sense of humor.
On men and marriage: It’s all about sex.
On turning 50: Prepare for unexpected hair-sprouting – mostly from the face, which is why I hate high-definition TV.
On the rigors of being a female in Hollywood: I’ve approached the shelf life for an actress in Hollywood. I know that. That’s why we started our own production company – always have other options.
A woman must be open to change to realize her full potential, Heaton said.
You must be willing to let go and change direction if necessary, she said.
In addition to her work on The Middle, Heaton and her husband, David Hunt, are busy producing movies and TV shows through their company, FourBoys Films.
It’s great. I get paid really well to do a job I really love, Heaton said. But, what it all boils down to is what is going on at home.