'WKRP in Cincinnati' Star Howard Hesseman Dies at 81 Due to Complications from Colon Surgery

Howard Hesseman, best known for his work on Head of the Class, One Day at a Time, and WKRP in Cincinnati, has died, his manager confirmed to PEOPLE on Sunday

Howard Hesseman in WKRP Cincinnati
Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Howard Hesseman, best known for portraying Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, has died. He was 81.

The actor died just after 5 p.m. local time in Los Angeles on Saturday due to complications from a recent colon surgery, his manager Robbie Kass confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement on Sunday.

"He was a groundbreaking talent and lifelong friend and long-time client, whose kindness and generosity was equaled by his influence and admiration to generations of actors and improvisational comedy throughout the world," Kass said, adding that Hesseman "will be sorely missed and always treasured."

Actress Caroline Ducrocq, Hesseman's wife and acting teacher, also confirmed the actor's passing, telling The Hollywood Reporter that her late husband died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A.

Howard Hesseman in WKRP Cincinnati
CBS Photo Archive/Getty

Born on February 27, 1940, Hesseman developed his passion for acting in high school and college. The Oregon native later appeared in several small productions in San Francisco before joining famous improvisational troupe "The Committee" in 1965.

After his run with the group ended in 1976, Hesseman was cast as Dr. Johnny Fever in WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982. Hesseman, who appeared in all 90 episodes, received two Emmy nominations for his work on the show.

From 1975 to 1984, Hesseman played Sam Royer in the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time. He also was known for his portrayal of schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class, which ran from 1986 to 1991 on ABC.

Howard Hesseman attends the IMF 11th Annual Comedy Celebration at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on November 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Hesseman appeared on several other popular programs throughout his career, including The Rockford Files, Laverne and Shirley, and The Bob Newhart Show. He also hosted Saturday Night Live three times (1979, 1982, and 1983) and had recurring roles on Boston Legal and That '70s Show.

On the big screen, Hesseman appeared in films such as The Rocker (2008), All About Steve (2009), Salvation Boulevard (2011), and Wild Oats (2016). In 2009, the actor secured a supporting role in Rob Zombie's horror classic remake of the 1981 film Halloween II.

Hesseman also made guest appearances on several sitcoms (Fresh off the Boat, Mike and Molly) and dramas (Chicago Med, Drop Dead Diva, CSI, Lie To Me, Psych) over the years. He most recently starred in Lifetime's TV movie Secret Santa.

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