Following complications from colon surgery, Howard Hesseman, 81, passed away Saturday at Cedar-Sanai Health Center in Los Angeles. Hesseman starred in the hit television series “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Head of the Class.”
Hesseman also had roles in “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment,” where he played Captain Pete Lassard. He played Sam Royer on “One Day at a Time” and screenwriter Craig Plager on “The Bob Newhart Show.”
“He was a groundbreaking talent & lifelong friend and long time client, whose kindness and his influence and admiration equaled generosity to generations of actors and improvisational comedy throughout the world,” said his manager, Robbie Kass, who confirmed the death. “He will be sorely missed and always treasured.”
Hesseman was born on February 27, 1940, in Lebanon, Oregon. As a college student, he attended the University of Oregon. Along with fellow actor David Ogden Stiers, he went on to help found the San Fransisco comedy group “The Committee.” Early in his career, while working as a DJ, he used the name, Don Sturdy.
The actor made his television debut working on the law enforcement show “DragNet” in 1968. He was still using his alias Don Sturdy at this time. He went on to have roles on such shows as “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”
His breakout role came when he played anti-disco DJ John “Dr. Johnny Fever” Caravella on the iconic hit show “WKRP in Cincinnati” from 1978 until 1982. Hesseman also worked on the revival of the show. For this role, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in 1980 and 1981.
Hesseman appeared in three episodes of “Saturday Night Live” and went on to star in the ABC television hit series “Head of the Class” He appeared in nearly 100 episodes as teacher Charlie Moore.
Survivor information and memorial plans have not been released.