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ALF star Max Wright dead at 75: Cause of death linked to cancer

Max Wright in ALF
ALF star Max Wright has died at the age of 75. Pic credit: NBC

Max Wright, who played Willie Tanner in the ’80s sitcom ALF, died on Wednesday at age 75.

Wright (born George Edward Maxwell Wright), reportedly passed away in his home in Hermosa Beach, California. His cause of death was said to be linked to cancer, which family sources told TMZ he had battled for years. He was first diagnosed with lymphoma in 1995, before it was treated and went into remission.

Wright is best known for his role as the family patriarch Willie Tanner in the sitcom ALF (Alien Life Form), which aired on NBC for four seasons beginning 1986.

ALF follows a friendly but sarcastic alien — performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco — from the planet Melmac who crashed-landed into the garage of a suburban middle class American family in the San Fernando Valley area of California. Wright co-starred on show with Anne Schedeen as the family matriarch Kate Tanner. Andrea Elson and Benji Gregory played their children Lynn and Brian.

Although he is best known for his role as Willie Tanner in ALF, Wright appeared in several other TV shows.

He played Frank Bartman (1982) in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982. He also appeared in Misfits of Science as Dick Stetmeyer (1985-1986). He played Burt Philbrick in AfterMASH (1984) and appeared in Buffalo Bill as Karl Shub (1983-1984). Other TV roles include Jim Fleener (1986) in Cheers, Paul (1993) in Dudley, Max Denby (1999-2001) in Norm, and Terry (1994-1995) in Friends.

He played Guenter Wendt (1998) in HBO’s miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and Dr. Josef Mengele in the CBS TV film Playing for Time (1980).

Wright also appeared in several movies. He played Joshua Penn in All That Jazz (1979), Dr Aronson in Soul Man (1986), and Berger in The Shadow (1984).

Wright was born in August 1945 in Detroit, Michigan. He married Linda Ybarrondo in 1965, and the pair had two children, Ben and Daisy. Ybarrondo died from breast cancer in 2017.


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