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Howard Hesseman
Howard Hesseman 2014.jpg
Hesseman in 2014
Born(1940-02-27)February 27, 1940
DiedJanuary 29, 2022(2022-01-29) (aged 81)
EducationUniversity of Oregon
Years active1968–2018
Cаtherine Mаison
(m. 1965⁠–⁠1974)
Caroline Ducrocq
(m. 1989)

Howard Hesseman (February 27, 1940 – January 29, 2022) was an American actor known for his television roles as burned-out disc jockey (DJ) Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and the lead role of history teacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class. He appeared regularly on television and in film from the 1970s to 2010s, with his other noteworthy roles including Sam Royer (the husband of lead character Ann Romano) in the last two seasons of One Day at a Time and a supporting role as Captain Pete Lassard in the film Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.

Early life

Hesseman was born in Lebanon, Oregon, on February 27, 1940.[1] His parents divorced when he was five, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather, a police officer.[2] He graduated from Silverton High School in 1958.[1] Hesseman attended the University of Oregon, and was later a founding member of the San Francisco-based improvisational comedy troupe The Committee with fellow actor David Ogden Stiers. Early in his acting career, he used the alias Don Sturdy, the name he also used as a radio DJ[2] on underground FM station KMPX in San Francisco in the late 1960s.[3]


Under the alias of Don Sturdy, Hesseman made his first television appearances, including the episode "Public Affairs: DR-07" of the show Dragnet in 1968. He portrayed a hippie named Jesse Chaplin, the editor of an underground newspaper. In this Dragnet episode, his character was a panelist on a TV show opposite Sgt. Friday and Officer Gannon.

He played a bit part in two final-season episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. In the episode "Sam for Town Council", Hesseman has an exchange with Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), who is running for town council against Sam Jones played by Ken Berry. Hesseman plays a character named Harry seen preparing fishing tackle outside a sporting-goods store and complaining to Emmett how poor the fishing has been at a nearby fishing spot. Emmett promises to stock the pond with big perch in exchange for Harry's vote. Harry agrees and wears a campaign button supporting Emmett in the race. In the episode "Goober Goes to an Auto Show", Hesseman, also credited as Don Sturdy, plays the counter boy, serving hot dogs and root beers to Goober and his old trade-school rival Roy Swanson, played by Noam Pitlik.

On July 18, 1969, he appeared with the improvisational comedy group The Committee in several sketches on The Dick Cavett Show, including one sketch with guest Janis Joplin. Hesseman also appeared in a number of skits as part of The Committee in the 1971 classic film Billy Jack.

Hesseman made several appearances as Mr. Plager, a member of the group therapy ensemble on The Bob Newhart Show, and later in the series was revealed to be gay. He became a playwright in the sixth season of the show, writing a play about the characters in the group. In several other episodes of the show, Hesseman's voice can be heard as a TV announcer.

The handprints of Howard Hesseman in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park
The handprints of Howard Hesseman in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

Hesseman is best known for his role as DJ John "Dr. Johnny Fever" Caravella on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati from 1978 to 1982, a role Hesseman prepared for by working as a DJ in San Francisco at KMPX-FM for several months. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1980 and 1981 for his portrayal of Fever. He reprised the role in nine episodes of The New WKRP in Cincinnati, and also directed several episodes of the 1991-93 series revival.

He portrayed Sam Royer, the man who married Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) on One Day at a Time from 1982 to 1984.

In 1986, he was in the Disney film Flight of the Navigator.

Hesseman played teacher Charlie Moore on the ABC series Head of the Class for four seasons from 1986 to 1990.[4]

In 1994, Hesseman introduced lost footage of Janis Joplin in a documentary on Woodstock. He made three appearances on Saturday Night Live, one in which he paid tribute to, and told jokes about, the recently deceased John Belushi and the other in which NBC showed a picture of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, which Hesseman mooned off-camera. He also encouraged the viewing audience to moon the picture and send pictures in to NBC.[citation needed] In 1995, Hesseman played the role of the Marquis de Sade in Quills at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, California, which included one scene in which he was fully naked. In 2001, Hesseman had a role on three episodes of That '70s Show.

In 2006, he played the unorthodox Judge Robert Thompson in three episodes of Boston Legal, and also appeared in an episode of House. During his appearance as Judge Thompson, Hesseman paid homage to his role as a teacher in his earlier ABC series by hearing a court case while sitting atop the judge's bench, just as the character of Mr. Moore taught his class atop his desk. In 2007, he played The Chemist on HBO's John From Cincinnati. He guest-starred as an announcer at a horse track on Psych, in the episode "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder.” Hesseman guest-starred on the 2007 season premiere of NBC's ER, playing a man tripping on magic mushrooms who may or may not have been an orthopedist from another hospital. Hesseman starred in The Sunshine Boys at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, from September to November 2010. In February 2011, he portrayed Dr. Elliot D. Aden in the 11th-season CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead.” Dr. Aden was head of Department of Defense project called Stonewall at WLVU, which did research in fringe psychological concepts such as extrasensory perception and out-of-body experiences.


Hesseman died from complications of colorectal surgery in Los Angeles, California, on January 29, 2022, at age 81.[5] He is survived by his wife of 33 years, actress Caroline Ducrocq. He was previously married to Cаtherine Mаison (1965–1974).[6]



Year Title[citation needed] Role Notes
1968 Petulia Hippie
1969 Some Kind of a Nut The Bartender Uncredited
1971 Billy Jack Drama Teacher #2 (as Don Sturdy)
The Christian Licorice Store Last Party Guest
1972 Cisco Pike Recording Engineer (as Don Sturdy)
1973 Steelyard Blues Frank Veldini
Jory Santa Rosa Bartender Uncredited
Kid Blue Confectionary Man
1975 Shampoo Red Dog
Whiffs Dr. Gopian
The Sunshine Boys Mr. Walsh, Commercial Director
1976 Tunnel Vision Senator McMannus
Jackson County Jail David
Silent Movie Executive
The Big Bus Jack
1977 The Other Side of Midnight O'Brien
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Fred
1978 Loose Shoes Ernie Piles
1979 Americathon Kip Margolis
The Jerk Carnival Worker Uncredited
1981 Private Lessons Lester
Honky Tonk Freeway Snapper
1983 Doctor Detroit "Smooth" Walker
Focus on Fishko Sy Short
1984 This Is Spinal Tap Terry Ladd
1985 Clue The Chief Uncredited
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment Captain Pete Lassard
1986 My Chauffeur McBride
Flight of the Navigator Dr. Louis Faraday
Inside Out Jack
Heat Pinchus Zion
1987 Amazon Women on the Moon Rupert King (segment "Titan Man")
1991 Rubin and Ed Ed Tuttle
1993 Little Miss Millions Nick Frost
1994 Munchie Strikes Back Munchie Voice
1995 Out-of-Sync Detective Caldwell
1996 Boys' Night Out Sheba / Mr. Cabot Short
1997 Gridlock'd Blind Man
1998 The Way to Santiago Johnson Short
1999 The Sky Is Falling Yogi Cook
2002 Teddy Bears' Picnic Ted Frye
The Mesmerist Mr. Valdemar
About Schmidt Larry Hertzel
2006 Man About Town Ben Giamoro
Domestic Import Lou Kimmelman
2007 Martian Child Dr. Berg
2008 The Rocker "Gator"
2009 Halloween II "Uncle Meat"
All About Steve Mr. Horowitz
2012 Bigfoot Mayor Tommy Gillis
A Helping Hand Howard Short
2016 Wild Oats Vespucci
Silver Skies Billy
Emmett in Peopleland Howard Oozman Short
2018 Dirty Politics "Big Oil"


Year Title[citation needed] Role Notes
1968 Dragnet 1969 Jesse Chaplin (as Don Sturdy) Episode: "Public Affairs: DR-07"
1971 The Feminist and the Fuzz Hippie TV movie (uncredited)
1973 The Blue Knight TV movie
1974 Firehouse Hanley Episode: "The Hottest Place in Town"
Another April Dennis Webber TV movie
Rhoda Kirk Stevens Episode: "I'll Be Loving You, Sometimes"
1975 Mannix Ray Bennett Episode: "A Ransom for Yesterday"
Hustling Detective TV movie
Sanford and Son Professor Stoneham Episode: "The Family Man"
The Blue Knight Resident Episode: "Pilot"
Harry O Senator Lawler Episode: "Tender Killing Care"
1976 Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur AP Man TV movie
Family Store Manager Episode: "A Special Kind of Loving"
Switch M.W. Episode: "Pirates of Tin Pan Alley"
Baretta Walker Episode: "Street Edition"
Laverne & Shirley Dr. Grayson Episode: "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices"
1976-1977 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Dr. Robert Williams 13 episodes
1977 Delvecchio "Goldie" Episode: "Dying Can Be a Pleasure"
Tail Gunner Joe Lieutenant Ted Cantwell TV movie
Westside Medical "Buzz" Canfield Episode: "The Witch of Four West"
The Amazing Howard Hughes Jenks TV movie
The TVTV Show Ralph Buckler TV movie
Blansky's Beauties Dr. Berg Episode: "Nancy Breaks a Leg"
Quincy, M.E. District Attorney Jerry Douglas Episode: "A Dead Man's Truth"
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Fred TV movie
1974-1978 The Bob Newhart Show Craig Plager / Augie 6 episodes
1978 The Ghost of Flight 401 Bert Stockwell TV movie
The Rockford Files Al Steever Episode: "The House on Willis Avenue"
Husbands, Wives & Lovers Dave Episode: "Ron Moves in and Helene Steps Out"
Soap Mr. Franklin 7 episodes
The Comedy Company Roger Dustleman TV movie
More Than Friends Avery Salminella TV movie
Outside Chance David TV movie
1978-1982 WKRP in Cincinnati Dr. Johnny Fever 86 episodes
1979 You Can't Take It with You Wilbur C. Henderson TV movie
1980 Gridlock Senor Smooth (voice) TV movie
Skyward Koup Trenton TV movie
1982 Victims Charles Galloway TV movie
One Shoe Makes It Murder Joe Hervey TV movie
9 to 5 Episode: "Home Is Where the Hart Is"
1983 Love, Sidney Earl Edwards Episode: "The Shrink"
Likely Stories, Vol. 4 Seymour Z. Fishko TV movie
1982-1984 One Day at a Time Sam Royer 16 episodes
1984 Mister Roberts Doc TV movie
Best Kept Secrets Jim Osborne TV movie
Silence of the Heart Carl Lewis TV movie
1985 George Burns Comedy Week Episode: "The Honeybunnies"
Murder, She Wrote Sheldon Greenberg Episode: "Widow, Weep for Me"
1986 Faerie Tale Theatre King Episode: "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"
1987 Six Against the Rock Joseph "Dutch" Cretzer TV movie
1988 The Diamond Trap Detective Rollings TV movie
1986-1990 Head of the Class Charlie Moore 96 episodes
1990 Call Me Anna John Ross TV movie
1991 Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story Paul Maggioto TV movie
1992 Black Death Calvin Phillips TV movie
The Ray Bradbury Theatre Bayes Episode: "Downwind from Gettysburg"
Hot Chocolate Mr. Cassidy TV movie
1991-1993 The New WKRP in Cincinnati Dr. Johnny Fever 10 episodes
1993 Lethal Exposure Taylor TV movie
1995 Burke's Law Chuck Mason Episode: "Who Killed the Gadget Man?"
1996 Innocent Victims Smithline TV movie
1997 The Outer Limits Dr. Emory Taylor Episode: "Music of the Spheres"
High Stakes Wayne Dreyer TV movie
On the 2nd Day of Christmas David TV movie
1998 Two Guys and a Girl Mr. Bergen Episode: "Two Guys, a Girl and a Dad"
1999 The Practice Judge C. Williams Episode: "A Day in the Life"
Tracey Takes On... Todd Episode: "Drugs"
Family Law Howard Thomas / Randall Episode: "The Fourth Trimester"
The Pretender Landlord Episode: "Extreme"
2000 Touched by an Angel Flynn Hodge Episode: "Monica's Bad Day"
2001 Level 9 General Richard Scheffer Episode: "Wetware"
Three Sisters Jerry Keats Episode: "The In-Laws"
That '70s Show Max 3 episodes
Thieves Hal Bloomberg Episode: "Jack's Back"
Crossing Jordan Barney Reynolds Episode: "Sight Unseen"
2002 Maybe It's Me Mr. Finn Episode: "The Crazy-Girl Episode"
2003 It's All Relative Monty Episode: "Road Trippin'"
Boomtown Mel Castle Episode: "The Big Picture"
2004 Oliver Beene Dr. Fenniger Episode: "Superhero"
2005 Crazy for Christmas Fred Nickells TV movie
2006 House Henry Errington Episode: "Sex Kills"
2006-2007 Boston Legal Judge Robert Thompson 3 episodes
2007 Psych Barry Saunder Episode: "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"
John from Cincinnati Erlemeyer 2 episodes
ER Dr. James Broderick Episode: "The War Comes Home"
2010 Lie to Me Sam Hendricks Episode: "Beat the Devil"
2011 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Aden Episode: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead"
Drop Dead Diva Cole Lamburt Episode: "The Wedding"
2012 Mike & Molly Otis Episode: "Mike Likes Lasagna"
2013 HitStreak
2015 The Homeless Detective Howard Oozman TV movie
2016 Chicago Med Clyde Glickman Episode: "Withdrawal"
A Christmas in Vermont Nick Harper TV movie
2017 Fresh Off the Boat Mr. Royce 2 episodes


  1. ^ a b Baker, Jeff (April 30, 2014). "17 actors you (maybe) didn't know were from Oregon". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Hoover, Eleanor; Riley, Sue (November 12, 1979). "WKRP on TV". People. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  3. ^ "Howard Hesseman, star of 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' dies at 81". ABC News. January 30, 2022. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  4. ^ Caruso, Nick (January 30, 2022). "Howard Hesseman, WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class Star, Dead at 81". TVLine. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Barnes, Mike (January 30, 2022). "Howard Hesseman, Dr. Johnny Fever on 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' Dies at 81". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  6. ^ "Caroline Ducrocq, Howard Hesseman's wife". Technotrenz. January 30, 2021. Retrieved January 31, 2022.