(CelebrityAccess) – Actor Howard Hesseman, best known as wise-cracking DJ, Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati has died, according to his manager, Robbie Kass. Hesseman died from complications related to colon surgery, Kass reported to CNN.
Hesseman began acting in the 1960’s but became a household name with roles as Johnny Fever (1978-1982) and teacher Charlie Moore on the TV series, “Head of the Class”. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1980 and 1981. He reprised the role in nine episodes of “The New WKRP in Cincinnati”, and also directed a few episodes of the series reboot.
Born in 1940 in Lebanon, Oregon, Hesseman suffered from asthma and turned his energy toward the performing arts. He became involved in high school theater and drama clubs and began writing poetry. He attended the University of Oregon before heading to San Francisco at the age of 21 and found work in the local bar scene. Before he became Johnny Fever, he worked as a DJ at San Francisco’s KMPX, one of the “first underground rock stations”, per Grunge.com.
Kass, in an email to CNN writes, “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.”
Hesseman remained active in the arts later in life. He guest-starred on shows such as, “That 70’s Show”, “House” and others. Known for his support of marijuana legalization, he played a man tripping on mushrooms in a 2007 episode of “ER”. In addition, he also hosted SNL numerous times throughout his career.
Hesseman is survived by his wife of 33 years, Caroline Ducrocq.