Brad Garrett, Larger than Life Star, Battled Alcoholism


By Staff Writer

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The CBS smash hit Everybody Loves Raymond first hit the airwaves in in September of 1996. Less than a year later, in April of 1997, star Brad Garrett would take his last drink. For years he had been what he now describes as a “high-functioning alcoholic” — working the comedy circuit, appearing on late night shows, filming guest appearances (like his classic turn as Seinfeld’s mechanic), and eventually landing the role as Ray Barone’s big brother — with “big” applying both chronologically and physically.

By early 1997, it was obvious that CBS had a gold mine on its hands with RaymondI, and Garrett’s star was rising as he settled into the role that would eventually earn him three Emmys. But he was still drinking heavily, sometimes downing an entire fifth of vodka per day. As Garrett tells it in his book When the Balls Drop, he was in a beachfront restaurant — working on his tenth double vodka — when he noticed a picturesque family having dinner together.

In that moment, as the childless Garrett noticed the father interacting with his two children, he says a realization washed over him: “There was no way I was going to put [my kids]to bed at night with booze on my friggin’ breath.” And, like that, he was done drinking.

Garrett is the first to admit that his abbreviated path to sobriety is atypical. He only attended three meetings, and says that they only filled him with anxiety. He writes: “The key for me was quite simply to not drink.” However, Garrett recognizes this approach doesn’t work for everyone, saying “everyone needs to get there in his or her own way. But if it’s killing you or those around you, get [to sobriety]any way you can.”

Now, over a decade after the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond, Garrett is enjoying his time as a seasoned veteran of televised comedy. He’s a fixture in the voiceover world. He still does standup, like his recent stint with Rita Rudner in Las Vegas. And he’s always on the lookout for potential new roles; fans were wowed by his guest appearance on the legal drama “Bull” in October. 2018 will see the release of Gloria, a star-studded production that includes Garrett, along with other stars such as Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Sean Astin, and Michael Cera.

Now engaged to Isabella Quella, the star who rose to fame playing sad sacks is relishing his time at the top of the heap. He even built his own comedy club in Las Vegas — the only one in existence intentionally designed with the comfort of the comedian in mind. It’s a way for Garrett to continue paying back the gifts the universe has given him.

Garrett sees that as his continued mission on the planet: “You take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happi-ness.”