Howard Hesseman, WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class Star, Dead at 81

Howard Hesseman, WKRP in Cincinnati

Howard Hesseman, star of WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class, has died. The actor was 81.

Hesseman died Saturday in Los Angeles due to complications from a colon surgery, his longtime manager Robbie Kass confirmed.

“He was a groundbreaking talent and lifelong friend and client whose kindness and generosity was equaled by his influence and admiration to generations of actors and improvisational comedy throughout the world,” Kass wrote in a statement. “He will be sorely missed and always treasured!”

In 1980 and 1981, Hesseman received two Emmy nominations for his work on CBS’ WKRP in Cincinnati as John Caravella, aka DJ Dr. Johnny Fever. The series ran for four seasons between 1978-82, and made the actor a counterculture icon, thanks to the character’s signature sunglasses, physicality and speaking style.

He reprised his role for the revival series, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, in 1991, and served as director for a couple of episodes two years later.

Hesseman was also widely known for playing schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class, which ran for five seasons from 1986-1991. Hesseman left the ABC sitcom in 1990, ahead of the final season.

His other TV credits include guest-starring spots in Boston Legal, Fresh Off the Boat, Jon From CincinnatiPsych and House. He even played another fictional radio station employee, a manager named Max, on three episodes of That ’70s Show.

On the film side of things, Hesseman’s credits include Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Heat (1986), Gridlock’d (1997), About Schmidt (2002), The Rocker (2008) and Halloween II (2009).

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