Les Roberts was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His father was a dentist and his mother a homemaker. This rather ordinary beginning led to a most extraordinary life—author of 28 novels, a novella, a memoir, close to a dozen short stories, eight screenplays and countless newspaper articles and reviews. He’s most loved in Cleveland for the creation of his Slovenian detective, Milan Jacovich. Les has completed 14 Jacovich mystery novels and is forever asked to please keep going. (Some readers wonder if the Jacovich character is based on Les. The answer is, basically, no. You can read some background information on Milan and get a look at illustrator Ted Crow’s drawing of him by going here.)
Les took a rather winding road to his final destination of Cleveland, Ohio, a place he calls his spiritual home. Though he was already writing at just six years old, he began his career as an actor in Chicago and doing summer stock in Taos, New Mexico. He then moved on to New York, where his writing began to overtake his acting career. He wrote for such classics as Candid Camera and The Jackie Gleason Show.
His next stomping grounds was Hollywood, California—or The Hollywood Squares, to be more specific. Les was the first producer of this still-popular game show, and had the opportunity to rub elbows with true greats like Paul Lynde and Buddy Hackett. During his 24 years in Hollywood, he wrote and/or produced more than 2500 half-hours of network and syndicated television, including The Lucy Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., to name just a few.
Les’ introduction to Cleveland came when he got the job of creating a lottery game show for Ohio. It ultimately became Cash Explosion Double Play. He moved on to create similar shows for Michigan and Illinois, but couldn’t forget Cleveland. He moved there permanently in 1990 and says his years in Cleveland have been the best ever. It’s where he’s felt the most at home, developed the most significant and lasting relationships of his life and experienced the most success and fulfillment in his career. He’s been twice nominated for both the Shamus and the Anthony Awards, and has several times been voted “Cleveland’s Favorite Writer.” He won the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature in 1992 and the Sherwood Anderson Literary Award in 2003. He is past president of the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League. He writes regular book reviews for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer and articles for the Currents section of the Chagrin Valley Times. He’s also written some pieces for the Washington Post Book World, Northern Ohio Live and Cleveland Magazine. He was recently voted one of Cleveland’s Best 100 Entertainment Personalities.
With longtime friend and Hollywood legend Ann Elder, Les now co-hosts a radio show, Greenlight Reviews. They review newly released movies and suggest some special favorites for their audience to rent and enjoy at home. They have a blast when they happen to disagree with each other on films. (Les loved Brokeback Mountain, for instance, and Ann didn’t care for it at all.)
He’s been interviewed by every media source imaginable—newspapers, local and national radio (most recognized by Clevelanders when appearing on the Lanigan and Malone Show), television—and was profiled at ClevelandSeniors.com.
In May of 2009, Les was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Cleveland State University (see photo). Now you can actually call him “Doctor Roberts”—if you really want to.
Despite all of these accomplishments, Les is most proud of his family—daughter Valerie and granddaughter Shea (who live in Aspen, Colorado) and son Darren, his wife Anne and grandson Parker (who live in Redondo Beach, California)—and of course the love of his life, Holly Albin. Also an important part of his clan was his now passed Russian Blue cat Sonny, who was his personal muse for many years and was rarely more than four feet away from him. He now lives with a lovely Maine Coon cat, Isabel, and with the love of his life, Holly Albin.