Sullivan Sweeten – The Life of Former Child Actor Who Tragically Lost His Twin Brother
"Everybody Loves Raymond" child actor Sullivan Sweeten was left devastated after his twin brother's tragic death, leading to his family being concerned for his life. Find out all that happened around the star's mysterious passing.
Sullivan Sweeten was introduced to show business as a child, and he remained in the entertainment industry till his teenage years. Sullivan became famous as the six-month-old baby in "Everybody Loves Raymond," starring alongside his twin brother Sawyer.
Decades after the 1996 CBS sitcom aired, fans watched the little boys grow into teenagers. Sadly, viewers couldn't tell if Sawyer would appear in other movies like his brother or switch his career after a tragic event that occurred in their family.
Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten at a party celebrating the 200th episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" on October 14, 2004, in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
Although the brothers and their older sister Madylin - who was also in "Everybody Loves Raymond" - have a close relationship, the bond between the boys was something no one could fathom. So when Sawyer was reported dead, people couldn't help but worry about Sullivan's life.
WHO IS SULLIVAN SWEETEN?
Sullivan Skye Sweeten was born on May 12, 1995, in Brownwood, Texas. The former child actor's parents are Elizabeth Anne Millsap and Timothy Lynn Sweeten.
His parents are in the entertainment industry. His mom was an actress, while his father is a film producer and screenwriter known for the film "The Seventh Man," a movie about an American football team.
Sawyer Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten at Spago in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
Sullivan is one of four siblings; they were two boys and two girls. His older sister is Madilyn, born June 27, 1991. He also has a younger sister named Maysa. His other brother was his twin, Sawyer. Madilyn, Sullivan, and Sawyer appeared in "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Due to the family's acting careers and links to show business, the Sweeten family relocated to Los Angeles, California, when Sullivan and Sawyer were just six months old. The boys started appearing on "Everybody Loves Raymond" at 16 months old.
His parents later divorced, and his mother married Jerry Gini. Elizabeth and Jerry have four daughters together, who are Sullivan's half-siblings. Their names are Elliette, Emma, Guiliana, and Jaymeson Gini.
Sullivan Sweeten and Sawyer Sweeten attend the "Everybody Loves Raymond" series wrap party at Hangar 8 on April 28, 2005 in Santa Monica, California | Source: Getty Images
Sullivan and Sawyer were inseparable, and it was so awesome for them to be twins in real life and on the screen. During a 2000 interview with their sister Madilyn on the "Donny & Marie" talk show, Sawyer's short reply when asked if he liked being a twin was," Yeah, we like it."
Sullivan and Sawyer enjoyed being around each other so much that they later bought a home together in Riverside, California.
After being a child actor, Sullivan now lives a very private life. The former actor is so private that he doesn't post much on social networks.
Cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" during The 57th Annual Emmy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
"EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND"
Sullivan and Sawyer played Michael and Geoffrey Barone, while their sister Madylin acted as Ally Barone in the 1996 sitcom.
The hit sitcom made the boys famous. They joined actors Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, and Monica Horan on the show based on how a family relates to close relatives.
"Everybody Loves Raymond" was a fan favorite in the 1990s, and it changed the cast members' lives by propelling them to stardom.
Madylin Sweeten and brothers Sawyer Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten at the 57th Annual Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on September 18, 2005 | Source: Getty Images
Sullivan and his twin brother were not the first choices for their roles in "Everybody Loves Raymond." Another set of twins was initially cast for the pilot; however, Romano was delighted to find twin brothers who also had an elder sister. That's how the pair ended up being in the show with their sister Madilyn.
The twins and their elder sister went on to appear on the show until it ended. Sullivan and Sawyer appeared together on 130 episodes of the show. However, despite becoming household names, the twins decided to take a hiatus after the show. According to their manager Dino May:
"I've been in the industry a long time, and these kids were special. That's one of the reasons why it was a decision they made after [Raymond] – and they had plenty of requests – to stay on hiatus."
Sullivan Sweeten and Sawyer Sweeten at the "Everybody Loves Raymond" series wrap partyon April 28, 2005 | Source: Getty Images
May went on to say how proud he was of how the twins as they stayed on hiatus despite plenty of requests and how they handled fame. He said:
"What I loved about them was, when I would ask if they wanted to go on an audition, they would say, 'No, we still want to be on hiatus.' Growing up on a stage that young, these kids had the responsibility of adults, and they handled it like champs."
Sullivan later made appearances in "Frank McKlusky, C.I." in 2002 and "Casting" in 2017, while Madylin appeared on "Grey's Anatomy," "Dirty John," and "Lucifer." Unfortunately, their brother Sawyer wasn't so fortunate as he passed away.
Sullivan Sweeten and Sawyer Sweeten on April 28, 2005 | Source: Getty Images
SULLIVAN SWEETEN TWIN'S DEATH
Sawyer died while on vacation with his brother Sullivan at their aunt's house in Austin, Texas. Information released by the family revealed the young actor committed suicide a few weeks before his 20th birthday.
After Sawyer's tragic passing, "Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal reflected on the boy's personality in a statement.
According to Rosenthal, the deceased twin and his real-life siblings Sullivan and Madylin were charming kids. He sent his condolences to the family as he expressed deep sadness over the young star's death.
Sawyer, Madylin and Sullivan Sweeten arrive on October 14, 2004 | Source: Getty Images
Heaton, who played Sawyer's mother on the 1996 show, also paid tribute to him on social media with an emotional tribute where she expressed how painful it was that he left "far too soon."
His death left his family and co-stars devastated. In a statement acknowledging Sawyer's tragic death, Romano called him a "wonderful and sweet kid." His sister Madylin also wrote:
"At this time, I would like to encourage everyone to reach out to the ones you love. Let them have no doubt of what they mean to you."
Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten on October 14, 2004 | Source: Getty Images
Sawyer, who was almost 20, was believed to have shot himself in an upstairs room while the rest of his family were downstairs. Following the shocking incident, his family tried to find out what could have caused his actions.
One of Sawyer's relatives, Jacklyn Stines, alluded to a history of depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and learning difficulties as a possible cause of the suicide. In an interview, Stines, 64, revealed that the family had a long history of depression.
According to Stines, Sawyer had a lot of difficulty growing up. He had learning disabilities and struggled at school. He was also on medication, and Stines said she heard he was depressed.
Sawyer Sweeten, Madylin Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten at the "Garfield: The Movie" world premiere circa 2004 | Source: Getty Images
She further explained that she was worried for Sullivan because he and his brother were close and hardly apart. She went on to talk about the house they shared and other things the boys did together.
She also believes Sawyer decided to take his life at home in Texas because he had easier access to weapons there than at his California home. His family deeply felt Sawyer's absence even years after his untimely demise.
In 2016, Sullivan revealed how his brother Sawyer struggled to contend with the childhood experiences he missed due to his acting career. Sullivan said his brother had a "cynical attitude toward it."
Despite Sullivan mentioning that they both loved being on the show, he said it was only after it ended that they realized how much they had missed growing up. Sawyer blamed Hollywood.
YEARS AFTER SAWYER'S DEATH
Four years after Sawyer died, his family gathered at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California, to revamp two old theaters on the church's grounds in honor of their family member. His family named one of the theatres "Sawyer's Playhouse" and put a plaque that said:
"May this place be a light for all to find safety and friendship through creativity. Dedicated on April 23, 2019, by the Sawyer Sweeten Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, and Ray and Anna Romano."
Sawyer's family chose to do this after Loft Ensemble was told to move locations due to a rent increase. Madylin and some friends then set up a fundraiser for a new theater, which turned into a dedication to her late brother.
During an interview, Madylin made it known that her brother had strong religious beliefs, and there was something about the church that he loved. She also noted that she always felt his presence when she visited the place.
WHERE IS SULLIVAN SWEETEN NOW?
Not much is known about Sullivan Sweeten's current life since he's not fond of social media. It does seem he won't be returning to acting, though, as his Facebook bio reads, "Former actor extraordinaire."
His page also shows that he really likes video games. The former actor seems to be having fun with his family and living a quiet life.
Sullivan appears to have chosen a different and quieter path for himself compared to when he started out as a child actor. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors, whatever they may be.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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