Vale: Howard Hesseman

US actor best known for sitcoms WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class, has died.

US actor Howard Hesseman best known for sitcoms WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class, has died, aged 81.

He died in Los Angeles on Saturday of complications from colon surgery, he had previously undertaken.

Agent Robbie Kass told Variety, “Howard was a groundbreaking talent and lifelong friend whose kindness and generosity was equaled by his influence and admiration to generations of actors and improvisational comedy throughout the world.”

Born in Lebanon, Hesseman joined the improvisational comedy troupe The Committee in San Francisco, later working as a radio DJ, before guest roles in The Andy Griffith Show, Dragnet 1967, Soap and Sanford and Son.

With his signature long hair and handlebar moustache, he played anti-disco DJ John “Dr. Johnny Fever” on WKRP in Cincinnati from 1978 to 1982. Howard Hesseman won the role after being known to production company, MTM Enterprises, from his recurring guest role as Mr. Plager on MTM’s The Bob Newhart Show. He was originally considered for the role of Herb Tarlek, but when he read the pilot script, he decided Johnny was the part he really wanted.

Hesseman was also well-known for a starring role as Charlie Moore on Head of the Class from 1986-1990. He also joined the  long-running comedy One Day at a Time for its ninth and final season in 1982-83.

Other credits included The Rockford Files, Laverne and Shirley, Saturday Night Live, Fresh Off the Boat, Chicago Med, Mike & Molly, Psych, House, Boston Legal, That 70s Show, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, About Schmidt, This Is Spinal Tap and Halloween II.

6 Responses

  1. Loved him in WKRP in Cincinnati. I’ll always remember his reaction to a contestant who correctly guesses the supposedly un-guessable collection of songs to win $5,000. The station has no money, but needed something to boost ratings and came up with the guess the songs competition, where they would play a second from each song, making it near impossible to work out the names of all the songs. The first contestant guesses all the songs correctly and Howard’s reaction was gold! Rest in peace Howard.

Leave a Reply