LOS ANGELES, CA. (THECOUNT) — Howard Hesseman, who portrayed disc jockey Johnny Fever on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, has died. He was 81.

Hesseman died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles of complications from colon surgery he had last summer, his wife, Caroline Ducrocq, told The Hollywood Reporter.


A member of the San Francisco improv group The Committee and a real-life DJ back in the 1960s, Hesseman also was known for his stint as out-of-work actor turned history teacher Charlie Moore on the syndicated comedy Head of the Class. (He quit that show after four seasons to aim for a movie career.)

And on the ninth and final season of One Day at a Time, his character, architect Sam Royer, married longtime divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin.)

In other eccentric turns, Hesseman played hippies in Richard Lester’s Petulia (1968) and on NBC’s Dragnet (he was billed as Don Sturdy back then); a patient suffering from writer’s block on The Bob Newhart Show; a psychiatrist on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; a pimp opposite Dan Aykroyd in Doctor Detroit (1983); and a shock rocker in This Is Spinal Tap (1984), reports THR.

Hesseman received Emmy nominations in 1980 and ’81 for his work on CBS’ WKRP in Cincinnati, which ran for four seasons (1978-82). With his shades, moustache and slouch, he became a countercultural icon.