WKRP in Cincinnati Star & Actor Howard Hesseman Passes Away, Age 81

Television & film has lost another familiar face, with the WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class star's wife confirming that Howard Hesseman passed away on Saturday at the age of 81. The actor succumbed to complications stemming from colon surgery he had last summer and is survived by his wife Caroline Ducrocq and their godchildren Grace, Hamish, and Chet. While Hesseman has an impressive filmography of film & television work, two roles, in particular, are ones that viewers most associate with the actor. First, as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and then as history teacher Charlie Moore in the comedy Head of the Class. In addition, Hesseman would join the cast of One Day at a Time in the final season as architect Sam Royer, who would go on to marry Bonnie Franklin's Ann Romano. Other shows Hesseman appeared on include Dragnet, The Bob Newhart Show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Soap, Boston Legal, That '70s Show, John From Cincinnati, Fresh Off the Boat, and more.

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Image: Screencap

But for us, it will be Hesseman's mustached radio madman who will always hold a special place in our hearts. Running from 1978-1982 and earning the actor two Emmy nominations, Hesseman shared his thought on Dr. Johhny Fever in a 1979 interview with The New York Times: "I think maybe Johnny smokes a little marijuana, drinks beer and wine, and maybe a little hard liquor. And on one of those hard mornings at the station, he might take what for many years was referred to as a diet pill. But he is a moderate user of soft drugs, specifically marijuana." For veteran television director Jay Sandrich, who helmed the pilot for WKRP in Cincinnati, Hesseman was a no-brainer for the role. "Howard had at one time been a DJ," Sandrich explained in 2001 during an interview for the website The Interviews: An Oral History of Television. "He just stepped in and killed it. He knew exactly what he was doing." In addition to his television work, Hesseman's film work included a diverse selection of roles in Shampoo, The Sunshine Boys, Silent Movie, The Big Bus, The Other Side of Midnight, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Heat, Gridlock'd, About Schmidt, The Rocker, and Halloween II.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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