Micheal A. Lipton & Lorenzo Benet | Australian Who Magazine

You might say Monica Horan’s life is like something out of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. And you’d be right. In 1997, her first season on Ten’s hit sitcom as Amy, on-and-off again girlfriend of Raymond’s brother Robert (Brad Garrett), the actress was in the make-up trailer when she saw one of her most personal travails being played out on the studio monitor. “It was the PMS episode,” she says. “I’m hearing lines from conversations I had with my husband. Ray was telling Debra to take medication, and she was telling him she needed a hug. I was like ‘Woah.’ I was crying, then laughing, then crying. It was surreal.”

Still, it’s what Horan, 39, has come to expect: her husband of 12 years, Phil Rosenthal, happens to be Raymond executive producer. “Ninety per cert of everything you hear on the show has been said to me or [producer-star] Ray Romano or one of the writers,” says Rosenthal. “Nothing is safe, but Monica’s a good sport and laughs with us.”

Well, not always. Says Rosenthal: “Monica and I once had a fight over a can opener” in the kitchen of their Mediterranean style house in Los Angeles. “I spilled the tuna everywhere and got mad, and things were said.” Such as? “Why am I making tuna fish when I just got home from work?” A classic Ray Barone quip was born – except Ray quickly apologies to wife Debra (Patricia Heaton). Says Horan: “My favourite line to Phil to is, “You can say the right thing on TV, but why can’t you do it in real life?'”

Calling Dr Phil? Nah. “The show has been great therapy,” says Rosenthal. Horan agrees: “Phil and I aren’t like the bickering Barones. We communicate now, and that is profound.” They’re communicating a lot more on the set, too, now that Amy has returned as Robert’s squeeze.

Her cast mates are happy to see her back after 11 months. “She’s too nice,” cracks Romano. “She’s always got an upbeat take on whatever we’re talking about.”

“I consider myself a glass-half-full kind of girl,” says Horan. “Amy’s like that ¨C cheery yet vulnerable. There’s a lot of my mother in her.”

Her mother, Selma, 66 a retired clerk for the registrar of wills in Aldan, the Philadelphia suburb where Horan grew up, and her father, Robert, 62, a courthouse officer had mixed feelings in 1984 when the middle of their three children, after gradating in theater studies in Hofstra University, announced that she was moving to New York to become an actress. Two years later, while Horan was co-starring in an Off Broadway comedy, Rosenthal, then a struggling actor, sent a message backstage: “Tell that girl that’s she’s really funny.”

“It took him two weeks to ask me out,” she says, and a year after they moved in together. In 1990, the Catholic raised Horan converted to Judaism, both Rosenthal’s and her father’s faith. “Phil is a child of Holocaust survivors. It was my decision,” says Horan. They wed in April 1990.

As her spouse gained clout as a TV writer and producer, Horan enjoyed guest shots on his show and others, including L.A. Law and a 13-episode stint on General Hospital. She says she hesitated, though, before taking on Amy in Raymond’s second season. “I was settling in as a full time mum” to Lily, now 5, and Ben, now 8. Joining an established cast didn’t faze her. “She can hold her own,” says Romano. “If your husband is one of the bosses, it’s natural to feel self conscious. But she’s been welcomed and accepted, and the audience loves her.”

So how long will her latest stint last? “Phil doesn’t tell me, and I don’t’ want to know,” she says. Even when not on the show, “I feel a part of it, watching my husband the genius be a genius. So when he does something annoying, I can forgive him much more easily.”