Howard yelling to his "MA". No photos available.
|Portrayed by|| |
The late Carol Ann Susi (voice actress)
Debbie Wolowitz, most often known and credited as Mrs. Wolowitz, is Howard Wolowitz's mother, making her the mother-in-law of Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. Howard always simply calls her "MA" (while yelling). The name "Debbie" was revealed in the season 7 finale "The Status Quo Combustion" (and may or may not be a pet name); until that point, she had only been referred to as "Mrs. Wolowitz."
The joke in the series is that we never see her face; she makes her presence known by her loud and obnoxious voice (provided by Carol Ann Susi). There have been quick glimpses of her; however. In season 5's "The Countdown Reflection," the overhead view of the rooftop Wolowitz wedding ceremony shows her sitting off to the side in a pink dress. In season 6's "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation," she can be seen (from the neck down) walking past the open kitchen door while Raj sits at the dining room table, and the tag scene in that same episode shows her arms pulling Raj back into the house through an open window as he was trying to escape.
Verbal descriptions depict her as an immensely overweight (obese) woman with a mustache, as she takes water aerobics classes for overweight women ("The Spaghetti Catalyst"). She once mentioned that she had been a beautiful woman to whom the boys used to flock and give candy ("The Hawking Excitation").
Clues to her appearance have been provided in several episodes, including the episode "The Hot Troll Deviation", in which she states that she was spilling out of her shrunken girdle like "the Pillsbury Doughboy". In the episode "The Hawking Excitation", Sheldon states that he strained his wrist while helping Mrs. Wolowitz lift her bosom when he takes her dress shopping, further confirming her excessive weight. Another mention of her size was in the episode "The Engagement Reaction", in which Penny doubts Howard's ability when he stated that he lifted his mother up to take her to the hospital. Penny's doubt was founded in the belief that Mrs. Wolowitz's own legs were barely able to lift her up, never mind her petite son.
In the flashback episode "The Staircase Implementation", Mrs. Wolowitz had a younger, louder and more masculine voice, that makes Leonard mistake her for Howard's father. Howard promptly points out that with any more facial hair, she could pass off as his dad.In "The Countdown Reflection" where Howard and Bernadette gets married on the roof of Leonard and Sheldon's apartment, Bernadette's father Mike says that Mrs. Wolowitz has "a bigger mustache than [him]". As the couple have exchanged rings and start kissing, an overhead view zooming out shows Mrs. Wolowitz from the top of her head. It is the first time her figure is shown in the series, but not many details can be seen.
In "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation", Mrs. Wolowitz is finally seen in comprehensive detail: the camera scene is that of Raj sitting in the dining room whilst the door to the kitchen is visible in the background. Howard's mother is seen walking across the kitchen (visible by the kitchen door) three times in this scene, but the appearances deliberately fail to show her face. The third time she walks by the door, it shows she has long curly black hair just like her actress Carol Ann Susi's. Although Mrs. Wolowitz's face is still left to mystery, this episode confirms that she is immensely overweight. Comically, the background audience gasps slightly the first time she is seen walking across the kitchen. Also, in the tag scene when Mrs. Wolowitz catches Raj trying to sneak out and pulls him back in the house, her hands and part of her hair can be seen.
In "The Thanksgiving Decoupling", she invites the gang over for Thanksgiving dinner, but cannot cook it due to her gout. After shouting at Howard about her big toe hurting, she is heard whenever anyone mentions food. (Did someone mention pie?) She also has a lot of creepy looking clowns decorating her bathroom.
Mrs. Wolowitz was abandoned by Howard's father when her son was 11, before then, they just stayed together in silence without saying a word or being drunk all the time, as mentioned in "The Grasshopper Experiment". Howard lived with her until his marriage and often referred to her as "living with him", even though it's obvious that she's the responsible one when it comes to living standards.
Mrs. Wolowitz often talks to her son like he is still a child and isn't aware of his adult accomplishments, filling the cliche of a Jewish mother: referring to his colleagues and friends as "playmates" or "little friends" and referring to his work at the university as "going to school."
Howard often makes references to his mother as being a "crazy old lady", but deep down, he is still attached to his mother, being such a mama's boy. The attachment is primordial, as he relies on her to wash his clothes, as well as alimentary needs. Howard has no problems with this, as he gets to keep eating his old-time favorite childhood foods.
Her cooking skills are mixed. She is able to cook a brisket to the point where it just melts in the mouth, but she takes things beyond edible on Thanksgiving with her "tur-briske-fil" (which is turkey stuffed with brisket stuffed with gefilte fish, like a turducken). Also, her meatloaf lacks breadcrumbs and has been used over the generations to test diverse plumbing systems, including Howard's famous "space toilet".
Howard's mother is rigorously Jewish. She evaluates Howard's partner choices vociferously (like insisting that the latter be Jewish too), but she does not take kindly to strangers taking control inside her house (as in her argument with Howard's partner, Christy in "The Dumpling Paradox"). Despite these actions, she stated in "The Engagement Reaction" that she likes Bernadette, even though Bernadette is not Jewish, considering she went to Catholic School. Bernadette has developed some of the same personality quirks as Howard's mother including shouting like her when upset and mothering her husband.
As of "The Habitation Configuration," Howard no longer lives in his mother's house, having moved out to live with Bernadette as husband and wife; however, he and Bernadette continue to sleep over there from time to time to give her company and remind her that she is not alone.
In "The Thanksgiving Decoupling," the gang is fixing Thanksgiving dinner at the Wolowitz house. Mrs. W is not feeling well and in the basement. She can be heard every time food is mentioned. Raj does fix her annual tur-briske-fil" (which is turkey stuffed with brisket stuffed with gefilte fish).
In "The Cooper Extraction," the gang is considering what their lives would have been like if Sheldon weren't in them. If Howard had not found Bernadette, he thinks his mother would have ended up as a skeleton in the house and he would have assumed her personality like Norman Bates in Psycho. Amy, confused, asks if either Mrs. Wolowitz died of starvation or Howard killed her. Howard shrugs it off and responds that it doesn't matter; "the important thing is she's dead."
Mrs. Wolowitz usually shouts at whoever she is talking to, but on occasions, has been heard to speak in a softer tone. This communication is particularly true in the episode "The Hawking Excitation" when Sheldon takes her shopping for a dress and she asks him to "hold" her after Sheldon makes a comment about her inability to fit into a dress. Whenever she speaks, she is usually heard either shouting from another room, off-screen, or over the phone.
- In Season 1, she had a low pitched voice.
- She regularly goes to the gym and eats Oreos while in the bath.
- She is extremely good at figuring out the answers with only sparse clues on the game show Wheel of Fortune.
- Carol Ann Susi has said that Chuck Lorre has decided to never show Mrs. Wolowitz onscreen; however, viewers can see her from the side and see her arms and hair in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation": her face has still never been shown.
- A photo of her face can be seen in some episodes, having a strong resemblance to her voice actress Carol Ann Susi except with thick glasses and curly hair. An episode where this fact can be seen is "The Engagement Reaction".
- In "The Weekend Vortex", she takes half an hour to walk up Sheldon and Leonard's building stairs, to their apartment.
- In "The Status Quo Combustion", Stuart becomes her new caregiver and they seem to get along really well. The next season he just moves into her house to live.
- Mrs. Wolowitz's voice actor, Carol Ann Susi, died on November 11, 2014. Because of her death, it is currently unclear whether the character will be recast or written out of the show, although Bill Prady has said that a recast is unlikely.
- S01E07: The Dumpling Paradox
- S01E11: The Pancake Batter Anomaly
- S02E01: The Bad Fish Paradigm
- S02E08: The Lizard-Spock Expansion
- S02E12: The Killer Robot Instability
- S02E16: The Cushion Saturation
- S02E19: The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition
- S02E23: The Monopolar Expedition
- S03E07: The Guitarist Amplification
- S03E09: The Vengeance Formulation
- S03E10: The Gorilla Experiment
- S03E22: The Staircase Implementation
- S04E01: The Robotic Manipulation
- S04E04: The Hot Troll Deviation
- S04E05: The Desperation Emanation
- S04E16: The Cohabitation Formulation
- S04E19: The Zarnecki Incursion
- S04E23: The Engagement Reaction
- S04E24: The Roommate Transmogrification
- S05E03: The Pulled Groin Extrapolation
- S05E05: The Russian Rocket Reaction
- S05E12: The Shiny Trinket Maneuver
- S05E15: The Friendship Contraction
- S05E18: The Werewolf Transformation
- S05E19: The Weekend Vortex
- S05E21: The Hawking Excitation
- S05E24: The Countdown Reflection
- S06E01: The Date Night Variable
- S06E04: The Re-Entry Minimization
- S06E07: The Habitation Configuration
- S06E15: The Spoiler Alert Segmentation
- S07E09: The Thanksgiving Decoupling
- S07E11: The Cooper Extraction
- S07E16: The Table Polarization
- S07E21: The Anything Can Happen Recurrence
- S07E23: The Gorilla Dissolution
- S07E24: The Status Quo Combustion
- S08E01: The Locomotion Interruption
- S08E08: The Prom Equivalency (final appearance of Carol Ann Susi)