Wen Roberts, 70, the longtime official photographer for the Lakers, Kings and Inglewood Forum, died Monday at his El Segundo home of complications from myasthenia gravis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), his wife, Mary, said.
Roberts, who maintained his own studio and photography business, was hired by the Lakers in 1960 when the NBA team moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis. After then-owner Jack Kent Cooke was awarded an NHL franchise, Roberts became the official Kings photographer, starting in 1967.
Cooke opened the Forum that same year, and Roberts became the house photographer for all events at the arena. In addition to every pro basketball and hockey game, Roberts shot boxing matches, concerts, circuses and other spectacles.
Most of Roberts’ photos were used for internal purposes, in promotional materials and for team publications and archives. His images were prominently displayed at the Forum Club, the arena bar that was a haven for celebrities and other VIPs. He worked for the Kings until 1993 and for the Lakers until 2000.
Over the years he shot photos for various news publications and advertising campaigns. His vintage images of Hollywood stars and political figures in the early days of commercial air travel in Los Angeles have been displayed at the Flight Path Learning Center Museum adjacent to LAX.
Wendell B. Roberts was born Dec. 5, 1936, in Farmersville, Texas. After serving in the Army in the mid-1950s, he attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, then launched his professional photography career.