Howard Hesseman

Last updated
Howard Hesseman
Howard Hesseman 2014.jpg
Hesseman in 2014
Born (1940-02-27) February 27, 1940 (age 80)
Years active1968–2018

Howard Hesseman (born February 27, 1940) [1] is an American actor best known for playing DJ Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati , Captain Pete Lassard in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment , Sam Royer on One Day at a Time , and schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class .


Early life

Hesseman was born in Lebanon, Oregon, the son of Edna (née Forster) and George Henry Hesseman. [2] His parents divorced when he was five, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather, a police officer. [3] 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. [3]


Under the alias of Don Sturdy, Hesseman made his first television appearances, including one episode of Dragnet in 1968 in which 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 Counterboy, serving hot dogs and root beers to Goober and his old trade school rival Roy Swanson, played by Noam Pitlik. Hesseman made several appearances as Mr. Plager, a member of the group therapy ensemble on The Bob Newhart Show , who was later 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. In 1969, he appeared uncredited with The Committee (though at the time using the name Don Sturdy) in several sketches on The Dick Cavett Show , and appeared in one sketch with guest Janis Joplin.

The handprints of Howard Hesseman in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park Howard Hesseman (handprints in cement).jpg
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 anti-disco disc jockey 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. In 1986, he was in the Disney cult classic Flight of the Navigator . He reprised the role in nine episodes of The New WKRP in Cincinnati , and also directed several episodes of the 1991-93 series revival.

Hesseman is also remembered for his role as teacher Charlie Moore on the ABC series Head of the Class from 1986 to 1990. [4] He also played Sam Royer, the man who married Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) on One Day at a Time from 1982 to 1984. In 1994, Hesseman introduced lost footage of Joplin in a documentary on Woodstock. He made two 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 he mooned President Ronald Reagan. NBC showed a picture of Reagan, and Hesseman mooned the president 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 appeared in three episodes of the ABC television series Boston Legal , playing the unorthodox Judge Robert Thompson, as well as 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 has 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 orthopedic doctor 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 had a guest role as Dr. Elliot D. Aden in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode titled "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead" from season 11 (episode 16). Dr. Aden was head of Department of Defense project called Stonewall at W.L.V.U., which did research in fringe psychological concepts such as E.S.P. and out-of-body experiences.

In April 2018, Hesseman was seen promoting the WKRP in Cincinnati television series and other classic television series on the MeTV television network.


1968 Petulia Hippie
1969 Some Kind of a Nut Bartender(uncredited)
1971 Billy Jack Drama Teacher #2
The Christian Licorice Store Last Party Guest
1972 Cisco Pike Recording Engineer
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
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 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 Det. 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 SkiesBilly
Emmett in Peopleland Howard Oozman(Short)
2018 Dirty Politics Big Oil


1968 Dragnet Jesse ChaplinEpisode: "Public Affairs: DR-07"
1971 The Feminist and the Fuzz HippieTV movie (uncredited)
1973 The Blue Knight TV movie
1974 Firehouse HanleyEpisode: "The Hottest Place in Town"
Another April Dennis WebberTV movie
Rhoda Kirk StevensEpisode: "I'll Be Loving You, Sometimes"
1975 Mannix Ray BennettEpisode: "A Ransom for Yesterday"
Hustling DetectiveTV movie
Sanford and Son Professor StonehamEpisode: "The Family Man"
The Blue Knight ResidentEpisode: "Pilot"
Whiffs Dr. Gopian
Harry O Senator LawlerEpisode: "Tender Killing Care"
1976 Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur AP ManTV movie
Family Store ManagerEpisode: "A Special Kind of Loving"
Switch M.W.Episode: "Pirates of Tin Pan Alley"
Baretta WalkerEpisode: "Street Edition"
Laverne & Shirley Dr. GraysonEpisode: "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices"
1976-1977 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Dr. Robert Williams13 episodes
1977 Delvecchio GoldieEpisode: "Dying Can Be a Pleasure"
Tail Gunner Joe Lt. Ted CantwellTV movie
Westside Medical Buz CanfieldEpisode: "The Witch of Four West"
The Amazing Howard Hughes JenksTV movie
The TVTV Show Ralph BucklerTV movie
Blansky's Beauties Dr. BergEpisode: "Nancy Breaks a Leg"
Quincy, M.E. D.A. Jerry DouglasEpisode: "A Dead Man's Truth"
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo FredTV movie
1974-1978 The Bob Newhart Show Craig Plager / Augie6 episodes
1978 The Ghost of Flight 401 Bert StockwellTV movie
The Rockford Files Al SteeverEpisode: "The House on Willis Avenue"
Husbands, Wives & Lovers DaveEpisode: "Ron Moves in and Helene Steps Out"
Soap Mr. Franklin7 episodes
The Comedy Company Roger DustlemanTV movie
More Than Friends Avery SalminellaTV movie
Outside Chance DavidTV movie
1979 You Can't Take It with You Wilbur C. HendersonTV movie
1980 Gridlock Senor Smooth (voice)
Skyward Koup TrentonTV movie
1978-1982 WKRP in Cincinnati Dr. Johnny Fever / Ghost of Christmas Future86 episodes
1982 Victims Charles GallowayTV movie
One Shoe Makes It Murder Joe HerveyTV movie
9 to 5 Episode: "Home Is Where the Hart Is"
1983 Love, Sidney Episode: "The Shrink"
Likely Stories, Vol. 4 Seymour Z. FishkoTV movie
1982-1984 One Day at a Time Sam Royer16 episodes
1984 Mister Roberts DocTV movie
Best Kept Secrets Jim OsborneTV movie
Silence of the Heart Carl LewisTV movie
The Princess Who Had Never Laughed KingTV movie
1985 George Burns Comedy Week Episode: "The Honeybunnies"
Clue The Chief(uncredited)
1986 Faerie Tale Theatre KingEpisode: "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"
1987 Six Against the Rock Joseph 'Dutch' CretzerTV movie
1988 The Diamond Trap Det. RollingsTV movie
1986-1990 Head of the Class Charlie Moore96 episodes
1990 Call Me Anna John RossTV movie
1991 Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story Paul MaggiotoTV movie
1992 Black Death Calvin PhillipsTV movie
The Ray Bradbury Theatre BayesEpisode: "Downwind from Gettysburg"
Hot Chocolate Mr. CassidyTV movie
1991-1993 The New WKRP in Cincinnati Dr. Johnny Fever10 episodes
1993 Lethal Exposure TaylorTV movie
1995 Burke's Law Chuck MasonEpisode: "Who Killed the Gadget Man?"
1996Innocent VictimsSmithlineTV movie
1997 The Outer Limits Dr. Emory TaylorEpisode: "Music of the Spheres"
High Stakes Wayne DreyerTV movie
On the 2nd Day of Christmas DavidTV movie
1998 Two Guys and a Girl Mr. BergenEpisode: "Two Guys, a Girl and a Dad"
1999 The Practice Judge C. WilliamsEpisode: "A Day in the Life"
Tracey Takes On... ToddEpisode: "Drugs"
Family Law Howard Thomas / RandallEpisode: "The Fourth Trimester"
The Pretender LandlordEpisode: "Extreme"
2000 Touched by an Angel Flynn HodgeEpisode: "Monica's Bad Day"
2001 Level 9 General Richard Scheffer"Wetware"
Three Sisters Jerry KeatsEpisode: "The In-Laws"
That '70s Show Max3 episodes
Thieves Hal BloombergEpisode: "Jack's Back"
Crossing Jordan Barney ReynoldsEpisode: "Sight Unseen"
2002 Maybe It's Me Mr. FinnEpisode: "The Crazy-Girl Episode"
2003 It's All Relative MontyEpisode: "Road Trippin'"
Boomtown Mel CastleEpisode: "The Big Picture"
2004 Oliver Beene Dr. FennigerEpisode: "Superhero"
2005 Crazy for Christmas Fred NickellsTV movie
2006 House Henry ErringtonEpisode: "Sex Kills"
2006-2007 Boston Legal Judge Robert Thompson3 episodes
2007 Psych Barry SaunderEpisode: "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"
John from Cincinnati Erlemeyer2 episodes
ER Dr. James BroderickEpisode: "The War Comes Home"
2010 Lie to Me Sam HendricksEpisode: "Beat the Devil"
2011 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. AdenEpisode: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead"
Drop Dead Diva Cole LamburtEpisode: "The Wedding"
2012 Mike & Molly OtisEpisode: "Mike Likes Lasagna"
2013 HitStreak
2015 The Homeless Detective Howard OozmanTV movie
2016 Chicago Med Clyde GlickmanEpisode: "Withdrawal"
A Christmas in Vermont Nick HarperTV movie
2017 Fresh Off the Boat Mr. Royce2 episodes

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  1. 1 2 Baker, Jeff (April 30, 2014). "17 actors you (maybe) didn't know were from Oregon". The Oregonian . Portland, Oregon. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  2. "Howard Hesseman Biography (1940-)". Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  3. 1 2 Hoover, Eleanor; Riley, Sue (November 12, 1979). "WKRP on TV". People . Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  4. "Howard Hesseman". IMDb . Retrieved 23 June 2015.