Tony Roberts


Actor
Tony Roberts

About

Also Known As
Anthony Roberts, David Anthony Roberts
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
October 22, 1939

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 ...

Family & Companions

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

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.

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 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).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Dirty Dancing (2017)
The Longest Week (2014)
12 and Holding (2006)
Broadway: The Golden Age (2004)
Himself
Grownups (2001)
Dead Broke (1998)
A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Jealous Jokester (1995)
Shattering the Silence (1993)
Arthur Miller's American Clock (1993)
Popcorn (1991)
Switch (1991)
Our Sons (1991)
Painting the Town: The Illusionistic Murals of Richard Haas (1989)
Narrator
The Time Guardian (1989)
18 Again! (1988)
Radio Days (1987)
A Different Affair (1987)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Key Exchange (1985)
Amityville 3: The Demon (1983)
Packin' It In (1983)
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
A Question of Honor (1982)
Stardust Memories (1980)
Just Tell Me What You Want (1980)
If Things Were Different (1980)
The Girls in the Office (1979)
Rosetti and Ryan: Men Who Love Women (1977)
Annie Hall (1977)
Rob
Opening Night (1977)
The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976)
Le Sauvage (1975)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Serpico (1974)
Play It Again, Sam (1972)
Dick [Christie]
The Million Dollar Duck (1971)
Fred Hines
Star Spangled Girl (1971)
Andy Hobart
The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)
Brad

Art Director (Feature Film)

9 Ages of Nakedness (1970)
Production Design

Art Department (Feature Film)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Carpenter
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Carpenter
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Carpenter
Lorca and the Outlaws (1987)
Conceptual Illustrator

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
Assistant to prod
Disc Jockey (1951)
Assistant to prod

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Broadway: The Golden Age (2004)
Other

Cast (Special)

Robert Redford (2002)
Narrator
Paul Newman - Bravo Profile (2001)
Narrator
Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds (2001)
Narrator
Garry Marshall (2001)
Narrator
Intimate Portrait: Diane Keaton (2001)
Jon Bon Jovi (2001)
Narrator
Billy Bob Thornton (2000)
Narrator
Victor/Victoria (2000)
Carroll Todd
My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (1999)
1998 Goodwill Games (1998)
Reporter
The Trial of Adolf Eichmann (1997)
Voice
The Kennedy Center Honors (1997)
Performer
Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud (1996)
Voice
Julie Andrews: Back on Broadway (1995)
The 48th Annual Tony Awards (1994)
Presenter
The 38th Annual Tony Awards (1984)
Performer
The Way They Were (1981)
Snafu (1976)
Let's Celebrate (1972)

Misc. Crew (Special)

1998 Goodwill Games (1998)
Announcer

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Seize the Day (1987)

Life Events

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

Film acting debut in bit role in "Beach Girls and the Monster"

1965

Played regular featured role on the daytime drama "The Edge of Night"

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

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

1969

Portrayed Dick Christie in Allen's "Play It Again, Sam" on Broadway; earned second Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play

1971

First major feature role, "$1,000,000 Duck"

1971

Reprised role in "Promises, Promises" in Broadway production; role originated by Jerry Orbach

1971

Starred opposite Sandy Duncan in the film version of Neil Simon's "The Star Spangled Girl"

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

Acted role of Mortimer Brewster in Broadway revival of "Arsenic and Old Lace"

1986

Appeared in fifth Allen movie, "Hannah and Her Sisters"

1987

Starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom "The Thorns", produced by Mike Nichols

1987

Cast as 'Silver Dollar' emcee in Allen's "Radio Days"

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"

Videos

Movie Clip

Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The - Fiorello LaGuardia Warren the deputy mayor (Tony Roberts) takes charge as Al the mayor (Lee Wallace) and his wife (Doris Roberts) consider whether to pay ransom in Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 1974.
Annie Hall (1977) - La-De-Da With pal Rob (Tony Roberts), who likes to call him "Max," Alvy Singer (writer-director Woody Allen) meets Annie (Diane Keaton, who won the Best Actress Academy Award) for the first time, in Annie Hall, 1977.
Annie Hall (1977) - To Atone For Our Sins One of the most advanced technical sequences, Annie (Diane Keaton) brings Alvy (writer-director Woody Allen) to meet her Midwestern family, Colleen Dewhurst her mom, Christopher Walken as brother Duane, Joan Newman and Mordecai Lawner Alvy’s parents, in Annie Hall, 1977.
Le Sauvage (1975) - I Don't Make The Laws Caracas Italian gangster Vittorio (Luigi Vanucchi) enters the night club where his runaway girlfriend Nelly (Catherine Deneuve) has come to ask ex-boss Alex (Tony Roberts, with flawless French), for cash, in Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Le Sauvage, 1975, co-starring Yves Montand.
Serpico (1973) - Guess Who Got Shot Opening sequence which ends with a flashback, Al Pacino (title character) first in an ambulance then back in the police academy, from Sidney Lumet's film based on the real-life story, Serpico, 1973.
Serpico (1973) -- Marijuana Cigarettes Title character (Al Pacino) and future anti-corruption ally Bob Blair (Tony Roberts) in a sanctioned experiment then on a subway platform, in Sidney Lumet's Serpico, 1973.
Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, A - Same Ariel Weymouth Andrew (writer-director Woody Allen) panics as Leopold and Ariel (Jose Ferrer, Mia Farrow) arrive, joining Adrian (Mary Steenburgen), Maxwell (Tony Roberts) and Dulcy (Julie Hagerty) in A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, 1982.

Trailer

Family

Kenneth Roberts
Father
Announcer. Radio credits included "The Milton Berle Program", "This is Nora Drake", "The Shadow" and "Joyce Jordan: Girl Intern".
Norma Roberts
Mother
Animator.
Everett Sloane
Cousin
Actor.
Nicole Roberts
Daughter

Companions

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

Bibliography

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.