Max Wright, the beloved sitcom actor best known by many for his role as Willie Tanner, the father on ALF has passed away. According to a new report from TMZ, Wright died on Wednesday in at his home in Hermosa Beach, California. He was 75.
According to family sources cited in the report, Wright had been battling cancer for several years after having first been diagnosed with lymphoma in 1995. The disease reportedly had been in remission for some time. No other details about Wright’s passing were available at the time of this article.
Wright was a veteran actor with a long list of credits in both film and television. On the film side of things, Wright had roles in 1999’s Snow Falling on Cedars, 1995’s Grumpier Old Men, and 1986’s Soul Man just to name a few. On television, Wright appeared in Cheers, Quantum Leap, Murphy Brown, The Drew Carey Show, Mad About You, and many, many more.
It was Wright’s role as mild-mannered family man Willie Tanner on ALF, though, that stands out as his best-known role. The series, which ran from 1986 to 1990, followed the story of an alien named Gordon Shumway who crash landed in the Tanner family’s garage after following a radio signal to Earth in the aftermath of his own planet’s destruction. The alien, nicknamed Alf, quickly became a part of the Tanner family with hijinks ensuing. According to Paul Fusco, the puppeteer who played Alf, it was Wright who made Alf seem real and not just a puppet.
“Tom (Patchett, executive producer,) got Max Wright from Buffalo Bill. He was the perfect choice,” Fusco told Mental Floss in 2016. “ALF and Max had great chemistry onscreen.”
“Max absolutely made you forget ALF was a puppet,” Patchett added.
Supervising producer for ALF, Lisa Bannick, also praised Wright’s work ethic and skills in the same piece.
“Let me tell you about Max: Writing for Max was like playing a synthesizer,” she said. “He would play every single comma, ellipsis, or dash you put in. You type it in and he gives you exactly what you wanted.”
Wright married Linda Ybarrondo in 1965 and the pair remained together until her death in 2017 from breast cancer. They had two children together.
Categories: Television News