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SYFY WIRE obituary

Max Wright, the beleaguered dad from Alf, dies at 75

By Christian Long
Max Wright

Accomplished actor Max Wright, who might be best remembered as the dad on the '80s sci-fi sitcom Alf, has passed away at the age of 75. His death, which happened Wednesday night at his home in Hermosa Beach, California, was first reported today by TMZ and later confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter

For four seasons from 1986 through 1990, Wright portrayed Willie Tanner on NBC's Alf, an otherwise normal (if somewhat uptight) father who, with the help of his family, secretly harbored an alien that had crash-landed into their garage. While the sardonic puppet was the star of the show, Wright's portrayal of Willie helped ground the series' wild premise, letting audiences become invested in the antics of a refugee from the planet Melmac with a fondness for eating cats. 

While the series wasn't renewed for a fifth season, leaving its cliffhanger ending unresolved, it was concluded with a made-for-TV movie in 1996 called Project: Alf. Unfortunately, Wright and the rest of his on-screen family didn't appear. 

Outside of Alf, Wright's buttoned-down persona served him well in a number of roles across his 45-year career, including a number of noteworthy genre roles. 

He played Mr. Bundle in the pilot episode of Tales from the Darkside in 1983; Doc Kinman in two distinct periods of his life across two episodes of Quantum Leap; and Dr. Herbert Denninger in the 1994 miniseries The Stand

Outside of genre, Wright's career was dotted with appearances in a number of memorable series, including Friends, Murder She WroteThe Drew Carey Show, and Norm. His final role was the TV movie Back to Norm, which continued the story started in Norm.

Wright was also an accomplished stage actor. His first performance was in The Great White Hope back in 1968. He even earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Play in 1998 for his role as Pavel Lebedev in Ivanov

Wright is preceded in death by his wife Linda Ybarrondo, who passed away in 2017. The couple had two children together.