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Max Wright, who portrayed the beleaguered father of the suburban family who gave a home on Earth to an extraterrestrial on the 1980s NBC sitcom ALF, has died. He was 75.
TMZ reported that Wright died Wednesday in his home in Hermosa Beach, California. His son, Ben, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter without providing details.
Wright, who often played uptight characters, was a stage veteran who made his Broadway debut in 1968 in The Great White Hope; he had been in the original production at the Arena Stage in Washington.
He received a Tony nomination for best actor in a play in 1998 for his turn as Pavel Lebedev, chairman of the local council, in Ivanov, and he appeared on Broadway in another Anton Chekhov classic, The Cherry Orchard.
In the 1980s, Wright portrayed radio station manager Karl Shub on the short-lived but acclaimed NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill, starring Dabney Coleman, and from 1999-2001 he was Norm MacDonald’s boss Max Denby on the ABC comedy Norm.
He also played the manager of Central Perk in two early episodes of Friends and was a regular on another NBC show, Misfits of Science.
On the big screen, the Detroit native was one of the futuristic scientists in the Alan Arkin comedy Simon (1980), and he appeared in All That Jazz (1979), Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981), The Sting II (1983), Touch and Go (1986), Soul Man (1986), The Shadow (1994), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).
Wright played the social worker dad Willie Tanner on ALF, which ran on NBC for four seasons, from 1986 through 1990. Tom Patchett, a producer on Buffalo Bill who created ALF with Paul Fusco, hired him for the job.
“Max absolutely made you forget ALF was a puppet,” Patchett said in a 2016 oral history of the show.
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