‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Star Howard Hesseman Dead at 81
The man who will be remembered for his role as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, Howard Hesseman, has passed away at the age of 81.
Hesseman's longtime manager Robbie Kass shared the news with TV Line:
“Unfortunately, I can confirm that Howard passed away on Saturday (1/29) at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles,” Kass said. “He will be sorely missed and always treasured!”
Kass went on to say that Hesseman had undergone colon surgery several weeks prior to his death and had suffered complications since the surgery.
WKRP's Weathered Morning Show Host
Although Hesseman's Dr. Johnny Fever character was always the star of the fictional, struggling radio station based in Cincinnati, Ohio, his character's real name on the show was Johnny Caravella. In the clip below from WKRP's debut episode in 1978, Caravella is charged with changing the station's format from beautiful music to Rock and Roll. After a moment of hesitation, he does it with the style and charm we came to expect from Fever over the next 90 episodes.
"Booger" is the word that got Johnny fired from a previous gig, leading him to the down-and-out station in Cincinnati. He says it proudly in the clip below, belting it out during the opening of the first song after the format change.
Howard Hesseman's Other TV Roles
In addition to his WKRP duties, Hesseman took on the role of teacher Charlie Moor on the ABC show Head of the Class.
Hesseman also showed up in One Day at a Time, playing Sam Royer who became Ann Romano's (Bonnie Franklin) husband in 1982.
He made a few other guest appearances on shows like ER, That '70s Show, Boston Legal, Fresh Off the Boat, and a few others. He reprised his Dr. Fever character a couple of times on the 'KRP '90s reboot, The New WKRP in Cincinnati.
On the Big Screen
Hesseman landed a role on the big screen, playing Captain Pete Lassard in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment. He also had roles in Heat, Gridlock'd, and Halloween II.