Max Wright

Max Wright Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: August 2, 1943

Death Date: June 26, 2019

Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan

Though a Tony-nominated stage actor and prolific presence on television for more than three decades, Max Wright was best known for the quirky "ALF" (NBC, 1986-1990), which cast him as a suburbanite contending with a bumptious, furry alien in his home. Born George Edward Maxwell Wright on August 2, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan, he relocated to Montreal, Canada to study drama at the National Theater School.

After adopting "Max" as his stage name due to the presence of another George Wright in the actors' union, Wright performed on stage in theaters across the country before making his Broadway debut in the 1968 production of "The Great White Hope." By the mid-1970s, he was working steadily in features and on television and stage: in the former capacity, he was the exasperated producer funding Roy Scheider's long-delayed musical in "All That Jazz" (1979), and played minor roles in Jonathan Demme's "Last Embrace" (1979) and Warren Beatty's "Reds" (1981).

While on television, he gave a memorable turn as Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele in "Playing for Time" (CBS, 1980) and starred as the put-upon station manager of a television series terrorized by talk show host Dabney Coleman in the critically acclaimed "Buffalo Bill" (NBC, 1983-84). The stage remained his most notable showcase, thanks to roles in Broadway runs of "The Cherry Orchard" in 1977 and "Richard III" opposite Al Pacino in 1979. But Wright was probably best known for his starring role on the NBC series "ALF," which cast him as the mild-mannered head of a suburban family whose penchant for peace and quiet is disturbed by the arrival of a wise-cracking alien, performed in puppet form by series co-creator Paul Fusco.

Though a ratings hit for the network, "ALF" was apparently a chore for most of its human cast, including Wright, who chafed against playing second banana to a puppet and the interminable technical demands required to preserve its illusion of life. Wright was reportedly relieved when "ALF" ran its course, and returned to steady work as a character player in films like "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999) and featured guest appearances on television projects like "From the Earth to the Moon" (HBO, 1999), which cast him as Guenter Wendt, who oversaw the manned phase of the Apollo program for NASA.

He scored a personal triumph that same year with a Tony nomination and Drama Desk Award for his performance in Anton Chekhov's "Ivanev." In 1999, he returned to series regular work on "Norm" (ABC, 1999-2001), playing the stuffy boss to former hockey star Norm Macdonald. The comedian would provide Wright with the majority of his final screen appearances, including a guest role on "A Minute with Stan Hooper" (Fox, 2003) and the pilot for a new sitcom, "Back to Norm" in 2005. Wright, who was diagnosed with and treated for lymphoma in 1995, succumbed to the disease at the age of 75 on June 26, 2019.

Credits

Dealin' With Idiots

Actor
Jack Morris
Movie
2013

Easter

Actor
Zaddock Pratt
Movie
2003

Norm

Actor
Series
1999
67%

A Midsummer Night's DreamStream

Actor
Robin Starveling
Movie
1999

Snow Falling on Cedars

Actor
Horace Whaley
Movie
1999

Midnight Man

Actor
Dr. Jonas Reilly
Movie
1997

Dead by Midnight

Actor
Dr. Jonas Reilly
Movie
1997

Early Edition

Guest Star
Series
1996

High Incident

Guest Star
Show
1996

The Watcher

Guest Star
Show
1995

A Mother's Gift

Actor
Herman Mandelbrot
Movie
1995

FriendsStream

Guest Star
Terry
Series
1994
78%

White Mile

Actor
Bill Spencer
Movie
1994

The John Larroquette Show

Guest Star
Series
1993

Dudley

Actor
Paul
Show
1993

Mad About YouStream

Guest Star
Series
1992

Quantum LeapStream

Guest Star
Doc Kinman
Series
1989

Wedding Day Blues

Actor
Howard Haldane
Movie
1988

Alf, O Eteimoso - Especial de Natal

Actor
Willie Tanner
Show
1987

ALFStream

Actor
Willie Tanner
Series
1986

Touch and Go

Actor
Lester
Movie
1986

Soul Man

Actor
Dr. Aronson
Movie
1986

Misfits of Science

Actor
Dick Stetmeyer
Series
1985

Konrad

Actor
Dr. Al Monford
Movie
1985

Fraternity Vacation

Actor
Millard Tvedt
Movie
1985

Murder, She WroteStream

Guest Star
Gerald Yelverton
Series
1984

Who's the Boss?Stream

Guest Star
Series
1984

E/R

Guest Star
Show
1984

Buffalo Bill

Actor
Karl Shub
Series
1983
84%

Dangerous Company

Actor
Dr. Boone
Movie
1982

RedsStream

Actor
Floyd Dell
Movie
1981
90%

Simon

Actor
Leon Hundertwasser
Movie
1980

Hart to HartStream

Guest Star
Series
1979

All That JazzStream

Actor
Joshua Penn
Movie
1979
87%

TaxiStream

Guest Star
Mr. Ambrose
Series
1978

Great PerformancesStream

Actor
Etienne
Franchise
1972