Howard Hesseman From 80’s Sitcom ‘WKRP In Cincinnati’ Dies At 81

RIP to Howard Hesseman
Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson

Howard Hesseman was a comedian and actor; but best known for his role as struggling DJ; “Johnny Fever” on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati ‘. He was confirmed dead on Sunday from colon surgery complications at age 81 according to his wife, Caroline Ducrocq. She said he died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from the colon surgery he received last summer.

The popular 80’s tv sitcom ran for four seasons from 1978-1982; in which Hesseman received two Emmy Awards for his role on the hit nighttime tv show.

What Howard Hesseman Said Of His TV Character

“I think maybe Johnny smokes a little marijuana, drinks beer and wine, and maybe a little hard liquor,” Mr. Hesseman told The New York Times in 1979. “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.”

How Hesseman Got Started As An Actor

Born in Oregon in 1940, Hesseman join a San Francisco-based imrpov group called The Committee in the ‘60s. However the group became to dissipate and thought it would be a neat idea to start a fresh, new group of improv comedians in the L.A. area. During this time, he was a starving actor and would go by the stage name Don Sturdy.


Hesseman, as Sturdy, appeared in The Andy Griffith ShowDragnet 1967, and counterculture cult classic Billy Jack. Eventually switching over to his own name, Hesseman appeared in RhodaMannixSanford And SonSoap, and The Bob Newhart Show.

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