Howard Hesseman, the actor and improv comedian best known for playing a stuck ’60s poker player on the TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday. in Los Angeles. He was 81 years old.
His wife, Caroline Ducrocq, said he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications from colon surgery last summer.
Hesseman received two Emmy Award nominations for his role as Doctor Johnny Fever on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which aired on CBS for four seasons from 1978 to 1982.
The series depicts a struggling Top 40 rock radio station, where employees battle the age of disco with hard rock and punk songs. The difficult character of Mr.
“I think maybe Johnny smoked a little weed, drank beer and wine, and maybe a little brandy,” said Mr. Hesseman. told The New York Times in 1979. “And on one of those rough mornings at the station, he could take what for years was called a weight loss pill. But he was a light user of drugs, specifically marijuana.”
Johnny Fever was a beloved TV character who embodied the essential features of the 1960s counterculture: the cult of rock bands; drug references are not concealed; long, shaggy hair.
In one backgroundhe wore dark sunglasses while DJing, said in a relaxed voice as he leaned against the microphone and said in a thick voice, “We’re still rocking the mighty KRP, where the razor man is standing by the side. edge to hone your day.”
I said WXYZ-TV Detroit in 2012, the show was made up of “a lovely cast of actors, backed by a lovely team of writers, so it makes for fun every day.”
Some may not be surprised to see Mr. Hesseman excel in that role. In San Francisco, where Mr. Hesseman helped found an improv comedy troupe, The Committee, he became a radio DJ in 1967. At the Bay Area station, KMPX, he played “strange tapes” from rock music and smoking “a lot of the pot – always against my will, of course,” he said. People Weekly in 1979.
Hesseman told The Times in 1979 that he spent 90 days in the San Francisco County Jail in 1963 for selling an ounce of marijuana – a sentence that was later sent to prison. He later said that smoking marijuana was “a residual pleasure”.
Before embarking on a career in acting and comedy, Mr. Hesseman spent time in Salem, Ore., where he was born and raised as an only child by his mother and stepfather.
An uncle in Colorado told him about acting, and years later, Mr. Hesseman would say, “Every time I perform, it’s like paying him off a debt.”
He briefly attended the University of Oregon, but he left school and moved to San Francisco, where he could focus on his career.
Mr. Hesseman, who is also admired for his improvisation, has played small roles in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Sanford and Son”.
George Spiro Dibie, former national president of the International Association of Cinematographers, recalls in a interview to the Television Academy Foundation that Mr. Hesseman’s experience was evident on set.”class leader,A comedy that ran on ABC from 1986 to 1991.
“He even told some directors what to do,” he said. Mr. Hesseman plays Charlie Moore, a teacher at a Manhattan high school who is competing with an over-study class.
He has had roles in hit classics like the fantasy film “This Is Spinal Tap” where he co-starred with the aforementioned Michael McKean. Twitter on Sunday that “Howard Hesseman’s influence cannot be overstated on generations of his candidates and the generations to come”.
In 1981, after two marriages ended in divorce, he met Mrs. Ducrocq, a French actress who was visiting Los Angeles. Ducrocq’s friend asked her if she wanted to swim in an actor’s pool, and she said yes.
“I don’t know who he is,” Mrs. Ducrocq said with a laugh.
She stayed at his place for dinner, and then stayed when he brought out a bottle of Champagne, which she later learned that he had never drank in his life. In 1989, they got married.
He enjoys listening to jazz, swimming and chatting with his godchildren, she said.
Mr. Hesseman once said in a interview that “smiling makes you feel younger; work makes you feel a little more agile. “
He is survived by Miss Ducrocq.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/arts/television/howard-hesseman-dead.html Howard Hesseman, DJ Johnny Fever on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’, dies at 81