By STEVEN NALLEY
Many know her as Debra Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Others know her as Frankie Heck on “The Middle.”
But Anne Robinson, Mississippi State University’s Delta Gamma sorority president, said she and her fellow Delta Gammas know Patricia Heaton as something else: a sister.
“I know she tweeted at one of our girls the other day that she was excited to spend time with her Delta Gamma sisters,” Robinson said.
Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton will speak at MSU’s Humphrey Coliseum 7:30 p.m. Monday for the 2012 Delta Gamma Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship in Values and Ethics.
Sponsored by the Delta Gamma social sorority chapter, the event is free and open to the public. Robinson said a question-and-answer session will follow Heaton’s lecture.
Before launching her Hollywood career, Heaton was a member of Delta Gamma’s epsilon chapter at Ohio State University. Robinson said she did not discover Heaton’s Delta Gamma membership until after pursuing her as a speaker, and former Delta Gamma membership is not a prerequisite for lecturers.
In fact, Robinson said, before pursuing Heaton as a speaker, she only had a passing familiarity with Heaton’s work. In the months since, she said, her familiarity level has changed.
“I actually recently started watching ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and ‘The Middle,’ and I think she’s very funny and a very good actress,” Robinson said. “I just think (her characters are) very believable and very witty, as opposed to just slapstick. I think she does a good job being smart in terms of her humor.”
Robinson said the idea to bring Heaton to MSU came from lectureship adviser Jessica Hubbard. Heaton is the first female speaker in the lectureship since MSU began hosting it in 2004, Hubbard said, and past speakers include Jeff Corwin, Christopher Gardner, Steve Ford and Blake Mycoskie.
“The purpose of the Delta Gamma Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship is to bring well known speakers to university campuses that promote values and ethics in their professional or personal lives,” Hubbard said. “The lectureship was first established at the University of Akron when philanthropist Paul Martin honored his wife, Dorothy Garrett Martin, a Delta Gamma, at their alma mater for their 50th wedding anniversary. Many Delta Gamma chapters across the nation followed, and in 2004 the Delta Lambda chapter of Delta Gamma at Mississippi State donated $100,000 to the Mississippi State University Foundation, establishing the current lectureship.”
Not only is Heaton an actress, Hubbard said, but she is also a volunteer, community activist and outspoken Christian and conservative known for speaking her mind on political issues. Organizations Heaton is involved with include Autism Speaks, Feminists for Life, American Red Cross and World Vision. She is also the mother of four boys.
“I personally am a fan of Ms. Heaton’s and enjoy her realistic characters that she plays,” Hubbard said. “I read her book and appreciate that after college she struggled as an actress, pursued a goal and after becoming successful she still recognizes community needs and volunteers.”