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Fame & Fortune: Patricia Heaton

No matter what character Patricia Heaton portrays from now on, she will always be remembered as Debra Barone, the long suffering and beleaguered wife of Ray Romano in "Everybody Loves Raymond" that won her two Emmys.

Women across America identified with the petite wife and her problems with her in-law and her husband, all while raising young kids.

In addition to her Emmy wins, Heaton also received a Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, award, three SAG nominations in the Best Actress category and the Best Comedy Actress award from the Viewers for Quality Television during the show's nine-year run. Then, after a two-year absence from television, Heaton recently returned in FOX's hit sitcom "Back To You," opposite actor Kelsey Grammer.

The Bay Village, Ohio, native always knew she wanted to be in show biz. After graduating from Ohio State University with a bachelor's in drama in 1980, Heaton headed east to Manhattan to continue her acting studies. It wasn't until almost seven years later that she got a role in Broadway's "Don't Get God Started." Earlier this year she returned to the stage, where she co-starred with Tony Shalhoub in the off-Broadway production of "The Scene."

Heaton has also gone behind the cameras to produce various projects -- 2006's "Amazing Grace," the documentary "The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania," and 2005's "The Engagement Ring" -- for her production company FourBoys Films, which she runs with her husband of 17 years, David Hunt.

But the busy working mom says that work affords her and her family of four boys -- ages 13 through 8 -- the luxuries she didn't have growing up. Heaton and her family live in Los Angeles, but have a small cottage home in a village near Cambridge, England, where they spend time each summer.

Bankrate: So what's the essence of Patricia Heaton?

Patricia Heaton: Oh my goodness. Patricia Heaton is so multi-faceted. I think it's a combination of bravado mixed with constant regret and, not that I lack self-confidence, but it's that situation where on the one hand you're out there and extroverted and the other hand, you're just hating yourself every minute and being self-deprecating about being out there and extroverted.

Bankrate: You were one of the first Hollywood stars to come out and say you had plastic surgery. Before that, it was a taboo subject. It's no longer pass� in Hollywood, with more stars coming forward. Why do you think the attitude changed?

Patricia Heaton: I just read where Jane Seymour talked about her plastic surgery. I think because of tabloid journalism ... these people are relentless. I was walking down to my neighborhood shopping area and there were two people perched with cameras filming someone from "Grey's Anatomy" sitting outside a caf�. I just thought these poor people can't go out and even have lunch.

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I think there's so much exposing everyone in their everyday life now, where it used to be that the studio protected images, and now it's open season. It's kind of ridiculous keeping up a front, not only because there's too much evidence to the contrary, especially if you get to be a certain age and you're still looking the same as your first headshot, it's suspicious. But also, I think if you want to live a normal life and be out there, people are going to see what you really look like.

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