ACTOR Howard Hesseman has died, Saturday Night Live alum and close friend Laraine Newman revealed on Sunday.
The Lebanon, Oregon, native known for his roles on WKRP in Cincinnati and Police Academy, was 81 years old.
Hesseman’s rep Robbie Kass confirmed the news to the Hollywood Reporter, adding the actor died in Los Angeles of complications from colon surgery.
On Sunday, she tweeted: “RIP Howard Hesseman. What great times we had. Great laughs and fun going to see Etta James in Manhattan Beach and Joe Tex at The Parisian Room.
“Staying at your beautiful house in Ramatuellle. Oh god this hurts.”
Howard Hesseman Cause of Death
Death Cause: complications from colon surgery.
Hesseman rose to fame in the 1960s as a counter-culture figure and a member of the San Francisco-based improv group, “the Committee.”
Aside from playing Dr Johnny Fever on WKRP and Sam Roye on One Day at a Time, Hesseman was also known for playing Captain Pete Lassard in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment and schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class.
He was nominated for Emmys in 1980 and 1981 for his work on WKRP.
More recently, Hesseman appeared on three episodes of That 70’s Show in 2001, and in 2007 he played The Chemist on HBO’s John From Cincinnati.
The funnyman’s fans quickly started posting tributes for him on social media.
“Howard Hesseman occupies a sweet spot in my formative years. Obviously, I was weaned on WKRP reruns, but Head of the Class came out right as I was sent to a different school for a gifted program, so it felt real to me,” said writer Vince Guerrieri on Twitter.
Screenwriter Brian Lynch also weighed in, calling Hesseman’s role in WKRP “iconic.”
“I’m hearing that Howard Hesseman passed away. His Dr Johnny Fever on WKRP is iconic, and I taped and watched HEAD OF THE CLASS over and over again growing up,” wrote Lynch.
“From SPINAL TAP to a POLICE ACADEMY, his presence made a movie that much cooler. May he Rest In Peace.”
Hesseman is survived by his wife, actress Caroline Ducrocq.
The two had been married since 1989 and do not have any reported children together.
He was previously married to Catherine Maison in 1965, and the two divorced in 1974.