Max Wright, the actor who portrayed the father on the Eighties sitcom Alf, has died. He was 75. On Wednesday, Wright’s son Ben confirmed his death to the Hollywood Reporter. TMZ first reported the death, adding that Wright died at his home in Hermosa Beach, California following a long battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 1995, but was reportedly in remission for several years.
As the news broke of Wright’s death, those in the industry paid tribute to the veteran star on social media. “RIP Max Wright – A hilarious and talented actor,” Seth McFarlane tweeted. “Sad news to hear of his passing. Who will keep ALF in check now?”
“RIP to Alf’s dad Max Wright,” the longtime Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean wrote. “Always a pleasure to work with.”
Wright, born in Detroit on August 2nd, 1943, racked up numerous credits for film, TV and theater. He made his Broadway debut in the original 1968 production of The Great White Hope and appeared in a number of stage production across the country. His 1998 portrayal of Pavel Lebedev in Ivanov earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Play.
Wright’s career took off in the late 1970s and early Eighties with a run of roles on both the big and small screens. His eclectic film credits include the 1979 musical drama All That Jazz, the 1980 Alan Arkin comedy Simon, Warren Beatty’s 1981 historical drama Reds, 1983 comedy The Sting II, 1986 dramedy Touch and Go, 1986 comedy Soul Man, 1994 action-adventure The Shadow (1994), a 1999 adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Oscar-nominated 1999 mystery Snow Falling on Cedars.
Outside of his famous role as Willie Tanner on Alf, Wright appeared in a number of major television shows, including Taxi, WKRP in Cincinnati, Cheers and Friends (as the manager of coffee shop Central Perk). His other sitcom roles include the early Eighties NBC show Buffalo Bill and Norm MacDonald’s ABC project The Norm Show (later renamed Norm), which ran from 1999 to 2001.