Howard Hesseman, ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Star, Dies at 81

Hesseman played the very anti-disco DJ “Dr. Johnny Fever”

Howard Hesseman wkrp in cincinnati obit
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Howard Hesseman, the actor best known for playing DJ Dr. Johnny Fever in “WKRP in Cincinnati,” has died, his manager of 35 years, Robbie Kass of Kass Management, confirms. He was 81.

“Unfortunately, I can confirm that Howard passed away on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles,” Kass said, adding that Howard underwent colon surgery several weeks ago and suffered complications of the surgery.

Hesseman starred in all 90 episodes of “WKRP in Cincinnati,” from 1978 to 1982, and returned to star in nine episodes of the series revival, “The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” in the 90s. His character’s real name was John Caravella, and he was very big in the anti-disco movement.

As “Dr. Johnny Fever,” Hesseman notched two nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, in 1980 and 1981.

Following “WKRP in Cincinnati,” Hesseman landed two more beloved television roles. He starred as teacher Charlie Moore on the ABC series “Head of the Class” from 1986 to 1990, and as Sam Royer, the man who married Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) on “One Day at a Time” from 1982 to 1984.

On film, Hesseman would go on to be known as Captain Pete Lassard, in “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.”

Over the course of his career, Hesseman had small guest appearances in several beloved shows, including “That 70s Show,” “ER” and “Boston Legal,” among several others. His last credited TV role came in 2017, where he appeared in two episodes of the ABC comedy “Fresh Off The Boat.”