“Head of the Class” actor Howard Hesseman died at the age of 81 on Saturday in Los Angeles.
The “WKRP in Cincinnati” star passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center due to complications from a colon surgery he had during the summer.
“He was a groundbreaking talent and lifelong friend and longtime client whose kindness and generosity was equaled by his influence and admiration to generations of actors and improvisational comedy throughout the world,” manager Robbie Kass said about the actor.
Hesseman began his career as a radio DJ and parlayed that experience into his most iconic role, famous Los Angeles DJ, Dr. Johnny Fever, whose career took a nosedive and landed him at the “WKRP,” the worst radio station in Cincinnati.
Co-star Loni Anderson, who played station secretary Jennifer Marlowe, is “devastated and heartbroken” by the loss.
“The warmth and depth of our 40-year friendship only grew stronger with each decade,” she said in a statement.
“Howard was eloquent…stylish…and hilarious. I loved getting his erudite ‘Dear Lady Loni’ emails. My favorite Howard sign-off…a quote by Louis Armstrong…’Jazz is what you are.’ And now Howard, forever missed is just what you are.”
The sitcom ran from 1978 to 1982, earning Hesseman two Emmy nominations. He reprised the role for ten episodes in the short lived “The New WKRP in Cincinnati” during the early nineties.
He was also known as teacher Charlie Moore on ABC’s “Head of the Class,” which ran from 1986-1991. Hessman was a frequent guest star on hit shows including “That ’70s Show,” “The Practice,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Boston Legal”, “House”, “The Rockford Files,” “ER,” “CSI,” “Chicago Med,” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”
In addition to his thriving television career he appeared in several movies during his five decade long career including “Shampoo,” “The Amazing Howard Hughes,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment,” “About Schmidt,” and “Halloween II.”