Howard Hesseman

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.

Howard Hesseman
Hesseman in 2014
Born (1940-02-27) February 27, 1940
Years active1968–2016

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.

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.

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.


Year Title Role Notes
1969Some Kind of a NutBartender(uncredited)
1971Billy JackDrama Teacher #2
The Christian Licorice StoreLast Party Guest
1972Cisco PikeRecording Engineer
1973Steelyard BluesFrank Veldini
JorySanta Rosa Bartender(uncredited)
Kid BlueConfectionary Man
1975ShampooRed Dog
WhiffsDr. Gopian
The Sunshine BoysMr. Walsh, Commercial Director
1976Tunnel VisionSenator McMannus
Jackson County JailDavid
Silent MovieExecutive
The Big BusJack
1977The Other Side of MidnightO'Brien
1978Loose ShoesErnie Piles
1979AmericathonKip Margolis
The JerkCarnival Worker(uncredited)
1981Private LessonsLester
Honky Tonk FreewaySnapper
1983Doctor DetroitSmooth Walker
Focus on FishkoSy(Short)
1984This Is Spinal TapTerry Ladd
1985Police Academy 2: Their First AssignmentPete Lassard
1986My ChauffeurMcBride
Flight of the NavigatorDr. Louis Faraday
Inside OutJack
HeatPinchus Zion
1987Amazon Women on the MoonRupert King (segment "Titan Man")
1991Rubin and EdEd Tuttle
1993Little Miss MillionsNick Frost
1994Munchie Strikes BackMunchie (voice)
1995Out-of-SyncDet. Caldwell
1996Boys Night OutSheba / Mr. Cabot(Short)
1997Gridlock'dBlind Man
1998The Way to SantiagoJohnson(Short)
1999The Sky Is FallingYogi Cook
2002Teddy Bears' PicnicTed Frye
The MesmeristMr. Valdemar
About SchmidtLarry Hertzel
2006Man About TownBen Giamoro
Domestic ImportLou Kimmelman
2007Martian ChildDr. Berg
2008The RockerGator
2009Halloween IIUncle Meat
All About SteveMr. Horowitz
2012BigfootMayor Tommy Gillis
A Helping HandHoward(Short)
2016Wild OatsVespucci
Silver SkiesBilly
Emmett in PeoplelandHoward Oozman(Short)
2018Dirty PoliticsBig Oil


Year Title Role Notes
1968DragnetJesse ChaplinEpisode: "Public Affairs: DR-07"
1971The Feminist and the FuzzHippieTV movie (uncredited)
1973The Blue KnightTV movie
1974FirehouseHanleyEpisode: "The Hottest Place in Town"
Another AprilDennis WebberTV movie
RhodaKirk StevensEpisode: "I'll Be Loving You, Sometimes"
1975MannixRay BennettEpisode: "A Ransom for Yesterday"
HustlingDetectiveTV movie
Sanford and SonProfessor StonehamEpisode: "The Family Man"
The Blue KnightResidentEpisode: "Pilot"
WhiffsDr. Gopian
Harry OSenator LawlerEpisode: "Tender Killing Care"
1976Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthurAP ManTV movie
FamilyStore ManagerEpisode: "A Special Kind of Loving"
SwitchM.W.Episode: "Pirates of Tin Pan Alley"
BarettaWalkerEpisode: "Street Edition"
Laverne & ShirleyDr. GraysonEpisode: "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices"
1976-1977Mary Hartman, Mary HartmanDr. Robert Williams13 episodes
1977DelvecchioGoldieEpisode: "Dying Can Be a Pleasure"
Tail Gunner JoeLt. Ted CantwellTV movie
Westside MedicalBuz CanfieldEpisode: "The Witch of Four West"
The Amazing Howard HughesJenksTV movie
The TVTV ShowRalph BucklerTV movie
Blansky's BeautiesDr. BergEpisode: "Nancy Breaks a Leg"
Quincy, M.E.D.A. Jerry DouglasEpisode: "A Dead Man's Truth"
Tarantulas: The Deadly CargoFredTV movie
1974-1978The Bob Newhart ShowCraig Plager / Augie6 episodes
1978The Ghost of Flight 401Bert StockwellTV movie
The Rockford FilesAl SteeverEpisode: "The House on Willis Avenue"
Husbands, Wives & LoversDaveEpisode: "Ron Moves in and Helene Steps Out"
SoapMr. Franklin7 episodes
The Comedy Company Roger DustlemanTV movie
More Than FriendsAvery SalminellaTV movie
Outside ChanceDavidTV movie
1979You Can't Take It with YouWilbur C. HendersonTV movie
1980GridlockSenor Smooth (voice)
SkywardKoup TrentonTV movie
1978-1982WKRP in CincinnatiDr. Johnny Fever / Ghost of Christmas Future86 episodes
1982VictimsCharles GallowayTV movie
One Shoe Makes It MurderJoe HerveyTV movie
9 to 5Episode: "Home Is Where the Hart Is"
1983Love, SidneyEpisode: "The Shrink"
Likely Stories, Vol. 4Seymour Z. FishkoTV movie
1982-1984 One Day at a TimeSam Royer16 episodes
1984Mister RobertsDocTV movie
Best Kept SecretsJim OsborneTV movie
Silence of the HeartCarl LewisTV movie
The Princess Who Had Never LaughedKingTV movie
1985George Burns Comedy WeekEpisode: "The Honeybunnies"
ClueThe Chief(uncredited)
1986Faerie Tale TheatreKingEpisode: "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"
1987Six Against the RockJoseph 'Dutch' CretzerTV movie
1988The Diamond TrapDet. RollingsTV movie
1986-1990Head of the ClassCharlie Moore96 episodes
1990Call Me AnnaJohn RossTV movie
1991Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart StoryPaul MaggiotoTV movie
1992Black DeathCalvin PhillipsTV movie
The Ray Bradbury TheatreBayesEpisode: "Downwind from Gettysburg"
Hot ChocolateMr. CassidyTV movie
1991-1993The New WKRP in CincinnatiDr. Johnny Fever10 episodes
1993Lethal ExposureTaylorTV movie
1995Burke's LawEpisode: "Who Killed the World's Greatest Chef?"
1996Innocent VictimsTV movie
1997The Outer LimitsDr. Emory TaylorEpisode: "Music of the Spheres"
High StakesWayne DreyerTV movie
On the 2nd Day of ChristmasDavidTV movie
1998Two Guys and a GirlMr. BergenEpisode: "Two Guys, a Girl and a Dad"
1999The PracticeJudge C. WilliamsEpisode: "A Day in the Life"
Tracey Takes On...ToddEpisode: "Drugs"
Family LawHoward Thomas / RandallEpisode: "The Fourth Trimester"
The PretenderLandlordEpisode: "Extreme"
2000Touched by an AngelFlynn HodgeEpisode: "Monica's Bad Day"
2001Level 9General Richard Scheffer"Wetware"
Three SistersJerry KeatsEpisode: "The In-Laws"
That '70s ShowMax3 episodes
ThievesHal BloombergEpisode: "Jack's Back"
Crossing JordanBarney ReynoldsEpisode: "Sight Unseen"
2002Maybe It's MeMr. FinnEpisode: "The Crazy-Girl Episode"
2003It's All RelativeMontyEpisode: "Road Trippin'"
BoomtownMel CastleEpisode: "The Big Picture"
2004Oliver BeeneDr. FennigerEpisode: "Superhero"
2005Crazy for ChristmasFred NickellsTV movie
2006HouseHenry ErringtonEpisode: "Sex Kills"
2006-2007Boston LegalJudge Robert Thompson3 episodes
2007PsychBarry SaunderEpisode: "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"
John from CincinnatiErlemeyer2 episodes
ERDr. James BroderickEpisode: "The War Comes Home"
2010Lie to MeSam HendricksEpisode: "Beat the Devil"
2011CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationDr. AdenEpisode: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead"
Drop Dead DivaCole LamburtEpisode: "The Wedding"
2012Mike & MollyOtisEpisode: "Mike Likes Lasagna"
2015The Homeless DetectiveHoward OozmanTV movie
2016Chicago MedClyde GlickmanEpisode: "Withdrawal"
A Christmas in VermontNick HarperTV movie
2017Fresh Off the BoatMr. Royce2 episodes


  1. 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. Hoover, Eleanor; Riley, Sue (November 12, 1979). "WKRP on TV". People. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  4. "Howard Hesseman". IMDb. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
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