One of TV, film and theatre’s most popular local faces is gone.
Langley actor and writer Michael Roberds – best known to many fans as Uncle Fester in TV’s The New Addams Family passed away suddenly Sunday night.
Roberds, who died in Langley Memorial Hospital shortly before midnight, was 52.
The always affable, universally well-liked performer’s natural comedy timing and knack of creating instantly-relatable characters won him many featured roles in Vancouver-filmed television movies and series, such as Once Upon A Time, Robson Arms and Da Vinci’s Town Hall.
His work included featured roles in theatrical movies — including such comedies as Ernest Goes To School, Happy Gilmore, Elf and Hot Tub Time Machine — after he turned professional in 1987.
He was also a regular writer for TV Week and entertainment commentator on CKNW.
Roberds, who grew up in Langley, had acted through his high school years and made his community theatre debut in White Rock Players Club’s production of Ninotchka in 1984.
He also acted in productions for XEmpt Theatre, was a founder-member of the comedy sketch troupe Almost Midnight, a regular contributor to the Shaw Cable program Pacific Profiles, and served as host/co-creator/producer for the talk show RoundTable.
His most recent role was in the TV movie Adventures in Babysitting, due to be aired next month.
But his highest-profile gig was his role as Fester Addams in The New Addams Family — in which he co-starred with Semiahmoo Peninsula resident Ellie Harvie.
The series, which shot 65 episodes in an intensive production schedule in 1998 and 1999, was still winning him fans after years in international syndication.
Roberds’ family, in a statement posted on Facebook, said: “We are devastated to mourn the loss of a beloved brother, son, uncle, and friend. (He) brought joy and laughter to the lives of everyone he met… you could not have met a more kindhearted, friendly soul.
“Words cannot express the emotions we are going through, but as a family we are grateful for all those who impacted his life for the better, and helped make life-long memories.”
Roberds, who wrote the column Couch Critic for the Langley Times for a number of years, was featured in a 2012 special section called Our Langley. Our People.
In the profile, Roberds, who supplemented his income by working part time at a Langley video store, recalled a particularly funny instance when his two worlds collided:
“One night the phone in the video store rang and one of his co-workers picked it up. It was a customer who’d been in earlier that evening and rented Hot Tub Time Machine.
“I know I sound crazy and I’ve been drinking a little tonight,” said the voice on the other end, “but is the guy who rented me the movie, IN the movie?’”
A career as a character actor opened some rather unexpected doors and Roberds happily barrelled through them.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been stereotyped. I’ve played everything from a serious bad guy to the owner of a sausage restaurant,” he said.
“I’m happily burning the candle at both ends.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so I take things as they come. I do everything I think I can do to forward my career.
“There’s been nobody around to show me how to do it.
“I feel like I’m slashing through brush to get to the top of the mountain, and when I get there someone’s going to say, ‘You know, there’s a staircase right there.’”
– with files from Brenda Anderson