Monday, January 31, 2022

Remembering Howard Hesseman of WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class; Nick Renews That Girl Lay Lay for Season 2

Howard Hesseman

Actor Howard Hesseman, who starred as malcontent disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and as history teacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class, has died. He died from complications of colorectal surgery in Los Angeles, California, on January 29. Mr. Hesseman was 81.

Hesseman's early sitcom guest appearances included The Andy Griffith Show (2 episodes), Rhoda, Sanford and Son, Laverne & Shirley, Blansky's Beauties and Husbands, Wives & Lovers. He had a recurring role as Dr. Robert Williams on 13 episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman from 1976 to 1977. He appeared as Craig Plager, a member of the group therapy ensemble who was later revealed to be gay, on five episodes of The Bob Newhart Show from 1974 to 1978. In several other episodes of the show, his voice can be heard as a TV announcer (Augie). He had a recurring role as Mr. Franklin on seven episodes of Soap in 1977.

He starred as anti-disco disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever (real name John R. Caravella) on the 1978-1982 CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Dr. Johnny Fever is a veteran disc jockey who comes to WKRP after being fired from a major Los Angeles station when he said "booger" on the air. Hesseman prepared for the role by working as a DJ in San Francisco at KMPX-FM for several months. He received two Emmy nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1980 and 1981. He wrote an episode in 1981 and directed an episode in 1982. The cast included Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Jan Smithers and Tim Reid.

Bonnie Franklin and Howard Hesseman - One Day at a Time

Hesseman had a recurring role as Sam Royer on 16 episodes of the the last two seasons (1982-1984) of the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time. Sam Royer is the father of Mark Royer (Boyd Gaines), who is Barbara's (Valerie Bertinelli) boyfriend and later husband. Sam Royer later becomes Ann Romano's (Bonnie Franklin) second husband.

Head of the Class

He next starred as Charlie Moore on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. Charlie Moore is a history and social studies teacher at Manhattan's Monroe High School (later changed to Millard Fillmore High School in the final season) who teaches the honors program to intellectual geniuses and helps them aim for their dreams. Hesseman left the series after the fourth season in 1990 and was replaced by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (in his first major American production) as teacher Billy MacGregor for the final season. The cast included William G. Schilling, Jeannetta Arnette, Leslie Bega (seasons 1-3), Dan Frischman, Robin Givens, Khrystyne Haje, Jory Husain (aka Joher Coleman) (seasons 1–3), Tony O'Dell, Brian Robbins, Kimberly Russell, Dan Schneider, Tannis Valley (seasons 1–3; guest, season 5), Rain Pryor (seasons 3-5), Michael DeLorenzo (seasons 4-5), Lara Piper (seasons 4-5), Jonathan Ke Quan (seasons 4-5) and De'voreaux White (seasons 4-5).

Hesseman reprised his role of Dr. Johnny Fever on nine episodes of the 1991-1993 first-run syndicated sitcom The New WKRP in Cincinnati. He appeared on four episodes in the first season and five episodes in season two. He participated in a four-episode story arc as WKRP's overnight DJ in season two, although he left the station (and the series) before the season ended. He also directed two episodes of the series revival in 1993. The cast included Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Mykel (Mykelti) T. Williamson, Tawny Kitaen and French Stewart.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included 9 to 5 (1982), Love, Sidney (1983), Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (1998), Three Sisters, That '70s Show (3 episodes as Max), Maybe It's Me, It's All Relative, Oliver Beene, Mike & Molly and Fresh Off the Boat (2 episodes as Mr. Royce). He hosted Saturday Night Live three times in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

He played Judge Robert Thompson on three episodes of Boston Legal from 2006 to 2007. Some of his other drama guest appearances included Dragnet 1967, Mannix, The Blue Knight, Harry O, Family, Switch, Baretta, Delvecchio, Westside Medical, Quincy M.E, The Rockford Files, Murder, She Wrote (1985), The Ray Bradbury Theatre (1992), Burke's Law, The Outer Limits (1997), The Practice, Family Law, The Pretender, Touched by an Angel, Level 9, Thieves, Crossing Jordan, Boomtown, House, Psych, John from Cincinnati (2 episodes), ER, Lie to Me, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Drop Dead Diva and Chicago Med.

Hesseman starred as Captain Pete Lassard in the film Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). Some of his other film credits included Steelyard Blues (1973), Loose Shoes (1978), Private Lessons (1981), Doctor Detroit (1983), This Is Spinal Tap (1984), My Chauffeur (1986), Flight of the Navigator (1986), Heat (1986), Inside Out (1986), Rubin & Ed (1991), Little Miss Millions (aka Home for Christmas) (1994) and The Sky Is Falling (1999).

Survivors include his third wife of 33 years, actress and acting teacher Caroline Ducrocq.

Howard Hesseman

Mr. Hesseman was a talented and versatile actor. He was funny and memorable on WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class. We thank him for the many laughs and entertainment he brought us during his career. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class message boards. View photos in our galleries.

MeTV Network Remembers Howard Hesseman

Sunday, February 6 at 4:00 p.m. ET

4:00 p.m. WKRP in Cincinnati
"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide (Part 1)"
Forced to host a disco dance show on TV, Johnny comes up with a new alter ego; the phony, smarmy "Rip Tide."
4:30pm WKRP in Cincinnati
"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide (Part 2)
Forced to host a disco dance show on TV, Johnny comes up with a new alter ego; the phony, smarmy "Rip Tide."

Decades will have an all-day binge marathon (48 episodes) of WKRP in Cincinnati on Saturday, February 5.

Peter Robbins

We also remember child actor Peter Robbins. He was best known for being the first actor to voice Charlie Brown in the Peanuts animated specials. He died by suicide on January 18 in Oceanside, California. He had a lifelong battle with mental illness. Mr. Robbins was 65.

Robbins provided the voice of Charlie Brown, whom he considered to be his childhood hero, in one television documentary, six Peanuts television specials and one movie from 1963 to 1969, including the film A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) and the television specials A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966).

Blondie

He starred as Alexander Bumstead on the short-lived 1968-1969 CBS sitcom Blondie, which was an updated version of the 1957 TV series that was based on the comic strip of the same name. Alexander Bumstead is the son of Dagwood Bumstead (Will Hutchins) and Blondie (Patricia Harty). The series also starred Jim Backus, Pamelyn Ferdin, Henny Backus, Bobbi Jordan and Bryan O'Bourne.

Peter Robbins in The Munsters

Robbins played Elmer Dudley in The Munsters episode "Rock-a-Bye Munster" in 1964. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Donna Reed Show, The Farmer's Daughter, The Joey Bishop Show, Love on a Rooftop, F Troop, Get Smart and My Three Sons.

His drama guest appearances included Rawhide, The F.B.I. and Bracken's World. He appeared as Grover Martin in the 1963 film A Ticklish Affair, which starred Shirley Jones, Gig Young and Red Buttons. He played Brandon in the 1967 film Good Times, which starred Sonny & Cher.

Mr. Robbins retired from the entertainment industry in 1972, and later pursued his career in real estate, with brief stints in radio. We thank him for his voice work as Charlie Brown and his appearances on television. He will be missed.

Share your memories on our message board. View photos in our galleries.


That Girl Lay Lay

Nickelodeon announced that it has greenlit a 13-episode second season of its hit live-action multi-camera buddy comedy That Girl Lay Lay. The series follows Lay Lay (Alaya "That Girl Lay Lay" High), an avatar from a personal affirmation app that magically comes to life, and her best friend Sadie (Gabrielle Nevaeh Green) as they navigate life as teenagers and discover who they truly are. Season one of That Girl Lay Lay shattered records this Fall with premieres delivering double digit gains on Thursday nights and consistent #1 rankings in the time slot across all TV among K6-11. That Girl Lay Lay follows Lay Lay, a virtual hype avatar who magically comes to life after her best friend Sadie wishes on a star. For her work on the series, That Girl Lay Lay is currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the "Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)" category. Season two of That Girl Lay Lay will begin production early this year in Los Angeles with a premiere slated for this summer on Nickelodeon.

Season two of the series will bring more music and magical powers as the two best friends continue to go on even more exciting adventures, working to fulfill Lay Lay's desire to experience everything that comes with being a real teenager. That Girl Lay Lay also stars Peyton Perrine III as Sadie's brother, Marky; Tiffany Daniels as Sadie's mom, Trish; and Thomas Hobson as Sadie's dad, Bryce.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Saturday, July 20

Mind Your Business - "Choices" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Alfonso must make a major career decision while Lucielle's son comes home with a big confession.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 15)

Friday, July 19

  • Kumail Nanjiani (Only Murders in the Building/Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail guest hosts a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Scheer (Black Monday/Fresh Off the Boat/The League) - Watch Paul on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Joey King (Bent) - Joey appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Chris Redd (Kenan/Disjointed) - Chris is a guest on a repeat of After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) and Rachael Harris (Surviving Jack/In the Motherhood/Notes from the Underbelly) - Brooke and Rachael are guests on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kerry Washington (UnPrisoned) and Delroy Lindo (UnPrisoned) - Kerry and Delroy talk about UnPrisoned on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release) Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One
06/11 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
06/11 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
07/05 - Letterkenny - Season 12 (Final Season)
07/30 - Ted Lasso - The Richmond Way (The Complete Series) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/17 - Bewitched - The Complete Series - 60th Anniversary Special Edition (Blu-ray)
09/24 - Friends - The Complete Series (4K Ultra HD)
09/24 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Series
10/08 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Twelfth Season / The Complete Series

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