skip navigation
Tony Roberts

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: Anthony Roberts, David Anthony Roberts Died:
Born: October 22, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This tall, curly-haired son of longtime CBS radio announcer Ken Roberts debuted on Broadway in "Something About a Soldier" (1962). Twice-nominated for Tony Awards, Tony Roberts has had notable collaborations with Neil Simon (appearing in three Broadway productions, a film and a national tour) and Woody Allen (two plays and six films). Although Roberts' stage credits have outnumbered his film appearances, he is perhaps best recalled for his work with Allen. He reprised his stage success as the businessman and best friend whose wife (Diane Keaton) Allen covets in "Play It Again, Sam" (1972). Roberts' command of upwardly mobile mannerisms and affectations made him the perfect WASP foil to Allen's nebbish persona as evidenced by the best-friend roles he played in such films as "Annie Hall" (1977), "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" (1982) and "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986).Roberts has acted in other films, including Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973, again as an intimate of the title character), "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three" (1974, as a mayoral aide) and Lumet's "Just Tell Me What You Want" (1980, as a gay film executive). As the star of "Amityville 3-D" (1983), Roberts turned in a solid performance...

This tall, curly-haired son of longtime CBS radio announcer Ken Roberts debuted on Broadway in "Something About a Soldier" (1962). Twice-nominated for Tony Awards, Tony Roberts has had notable collaborations with Neil Simon (appearing in three Broadway productions, a film and a national tour) and Woody Allen (two plays and six films). Although Roberts' stage credits have outnumbered his film appearances, he is perhaps best recalled for his work with Allen. He reprised his stage success as the businessman and best friend whose wife (Diane Keaton) Allen covets in "Play It Again, Sam" (1972). Roberts' command of upwardly mobile mannerisms and affectations made him the perfect WASP foil to Allen's nebbish persona as evidenced by the best-friend roles he played in such films as "Annie Hall" (1977), "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" (1982) and "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986).

Roberts has acted in other films, including Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973, again as an intimate of the title character), "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three" (1974, as a mayoral aide) and Lumet's "Just Tell Me What You Want" (1980, as a gay film executive). As the star of "Amityville 3-D" (1983), Roberts turned in a solid performance that complemented the competence at all levels that kept that sequel from being trashy. He took a few days' leave from the hit musical "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" (1990) to rush to L.A. to film his role as a nasty advertising executive in Blake Edwards' "Switch" (1991).

Despite his frequent Broadway appearances, Roberts has rarely been the first choice, originating few musical roles like his Tony-nominated turn in the unsuccessful "How Now, Dow Jones" (1967). While he was the first to play the parts on stage, he inherited two well-known roles, both involving drag: Joe/Josephine, the role originated by Tony Curtis in Billy Wilder's 1959 classic "Some Like It Hot," in "Sugar" (1972), and Toddy, the gay mentor of a down and out singer, in Blake Edwards' 1996 stage version of "Victor, Victoria." Roberts has also appeared in non-musical roles, most notably in "Absurd Person Singular" (1974) and in the revival of "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1986). He also tried his hand at directing with the 1992 Off-Broadway staging of Charles Grodin's comedy "One of the All-Time Greats."

But whatever qualities that made him Woody Allen's favorite WASP for a while never translated to the small screen. His featured work as Lee Pollack on "The Edge of Night" (1963-67) and his starring turns on the short-lived series "Rosetti and Son" (NBC, 1977), "The Four Seasons" (CBS, 1984), "The Lucie Arnaz Show" (CBS, 1985) and "The Thorns" (ABC, 1988) all failed to captivate the public. The nondescript actor persevered all the same, carving out his niche as a working actor. In the 90s, he teamed with his future "Victor, Victoria" co-star Julie Andrews in her TV-movie debut "Our Sons" (ABC, 1991) and also acted in the ABC movie "Not in My Family" (1993), "Arthur Miller's American Clock" (TNT, 1993) and NBC's "Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester" (1995). He also provided voices for PBS documentaries "Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud" (1996) and "The Trial of Adolph Eichmann" (1997).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Dead Broke (2006)
3.
 12 and Holding (2005)
4.
 Broadway: The Golden Age (2004) Himself
5.
 Grownups (2001) Mr Epstein
7.
 Shattering The Silence (1993) Walter Henderson
8.
 Arthur Miller's American Clock (1993) Jesse Livermore
9.
 Popcorn (1991) Mr Davis
10.
 Switch (1991) Arnold Friedkin
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1962:
Broadway debut in "Something About a Soldier"
1962:
Had role in the national touring company of Neil Simon's "Come Blow Your Horn"
1964:
Cast as newlywed Paul Bratter in "Barefoot in the Park", first of three Broadway projects by Neil Simon; role originated by Robert Redford
1965:
Played regular featured role on the daytime drama "The Edge of Night"
1965:
Film acting debut in bit role in "Beach Girls and the Monster"
1966:
First association with Woody Allen, playing Axel Magee in "Don't Drink the Water" on Broadway
1968:
Received first Tony nomination for his leading role in the musical "How Now, Dow Jones"
1969:
Portrayed Dick Christie in Allen's "Play It Again, Sam" on Broadway; earned second Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play
1969:
London stage debut as Chuck Baxter in the musical "Promises, Promises" (book by Neil Simon); won London Critcs Poll Award as Best Actor in a Musical
1971:
First major feature role, "$1,000,000 Duck"
1971:
Starred opposite Sandy Duncan in the film version of Neil Simon's "The Star Spangled Girl"
1971:
Reprised role in "Promises, Promises" in Broadway production; role originated by Jerry Orbach
1972:
Appeared on Broadway in "Sugar", a musical based on the Billy Wilder classic "Some Like It Hot"; played role originated by Tony Curtis in the film
1972:
First acted alongside Woody Allen in "Play It Again, Sam"; reprised stage role
1973:
Played Bob Blair in "Serpico"
1977:
Appeared in Allen's Oscar-winning "Annie Hall"
1977:
Co-starred in the short-lived NBC law drama "Rosetti & Ryan"
1979:
Worked with Simon again on Broadway, "They're Playing Our Song"; succeeded Robert Klein
1980:
Continued association with Allen as Tony in "Stardust Memories"
1982:
Portrayed Dr Maxwell Jordan in Allen's "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy"
1984:
Was regular member of the ensemble cast of "The Four Seasons", a CBS comedy/drama based on the hit film
1985:
Co-starred opposite Lucie Arnaz in "The Lucie Arnaz Show" (CBS)
1986:
Appeared in fifth Allen movie, "Hannah and Her Sisters"
1986:
Acted role of Mortimer Brewster in Broadway revival of "Arsenic and Old Lace"
1987:
Cast as 'Silver Dollar' emcee in Allen's "Radio Days"
1987:
Starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom "The Thorns", produced by Mike Nichols
1990:
Replaced Jason Alexander in the musical "Jerome Robbins' Broadway"
1991:
First association with Blake Edwards, the feature "Switch"
1991:
Supported Julie Andrews in the ABC TV-movie "Our Sons"
1992:
Off-Broadway directing debut, "One of the All-Time Greats" by Charles Grodin
1993:
Acted in Off-Broadway production of John Patrick Shanley's "Four Dogs and a Bone"
1996:
Starred opposite Julie Andrews in the Broadway production of "Victor/Victoria"; also marked second association with director Blake Edwards
1999:
Starred as Scrooge in the annual holiday production of "A Christmas Carol" in NYC
2006:
Cast in Michael Cuesta's sophomore feature "Twelve and Holding"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

High School of Music and Art: New York , New York - 1957
Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois - 1961

Notes

"I had a lot of friends in the theater, but Tony wouldn't let me contact any of them. He wanted to make it by himself. I did, however--and he doesn't know this--write a letter to my friend Dore Schary, who was producing a play called 'Something About a Soldier'. I said that if a young man named Roberts comes to see you, he's my son and I'd appreciate it if you would be gentle. Well, the very day I put the letter in the mail, Tony came home and said, "Dad, I got a part in a new play called 'Something About a Soldier'. Since then, it seems like he's never been out of work." --Roberts' father Ken Roberts quoted in Daily News, April 21, 1996.

"I know he thinks I've never been out of work, but that's not really true. I've had a wonderful, fortunate career, but I went through my unemployment insurance two times, and there have been long stretches when the phone hasn't rung and I've had to go into the hinterlands to do plays."

But I never look down on work. I remember doing "The Million Dollar Duck". In my first scene, I was on my hands and knees barking at ducks to get one to lay an egg. I remember thinking, 'My God, I went to college for this? I studied Shakespeare, I've been in 10 Broadway plays, and I'm barking at ducks?' Well, it was a properly humbling experience." --Tony Roberts in Daily News, April 21, 1996.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jenny Lyons. Dancer. Married on December 14, 1969; divorced in 1975.
companion:
Pamela Jordan. Actor. Appeared together in "Follies" in New Jersey in 1998.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Kenneth Roberts. Announcer. Radio credits included "The Milton Berle Program", "This is Nora Drake", "The Shadow" and "Joyce Jordan: Girl Intern".
mother:
Norma Roberts. Animator.
cousin:
Everett Sloane. Actor.
daughter:
Nicole Roberts.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute