Frank Bonner, the veteran actor who became famous for portraying Herb Tarlek in the TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Wednesday. He was 79.
Bonner’s family confirmed to TMZ that the actor died as a result of complications from Lewy body dementia.
Desiree Boers-Kort, Bonner’s daughter, wrote in a “WKRP In Cincinnati ”Facebook group and said the actor“ loved his fans and still signed autograph requests until the last few weeks of his illness. Thanks to everyone who followed his career. He will be missed forever. “
Bonner appeared in 88 of the 90 episodes of “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which aired for four seasons from 1978-82. He also directed six episodes of the sitcom, which followed the misconduct of staff at a struggling rock radio station in Cincinnati. Bonner’s character was a distasteful sales manager at the station who often could not reach agreements with large advertising agencies. From his signature white belt and shoes to his polyester suits, the “plaid boy” often came to work and was laughed at by his tall clothes. His slogan, “Hokay, fine,” was an answer used when he acknowledged decisions he did not particularly like.
Bonner starred alongside Gary Sandy as program director Andy Travis; Howard Hesseman as a veteran disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever; Gordon Jump as the indecisive general manager Arthur Carlson; Loni Anderson as the kind-hearted receptionist Jennifer Marlowe; Tim Reid as the funky night DJ Venus Flytrap; Jan Smithers as the young station worker Bailey Quarters and Richard Sanders as the meticulous, bent news reporter Les Nessman. Bonner and Sanders repeated their role for the sequel series “The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” which ran from 1991-93.
Born February 28, 1942 in Little Rock, Ark., Bonner was the son of singer Mamie Grace and saxophonist Frank Woodrow Boers. He began his acting career in “Equinox … A Journey Into the Supernatural,” an experimental film released in 1967 that was re-released in 1970 under the title “Equinox.” Bonner continued as a guest star on sitcoms such as “Nancy” (1970) and “Love, American Style” (1974). Before appearing on “WKRP in Cincinnati”, the actor appeared in popular dramas including “Mannix” (1971), “The FBI” (1973), “Emergency!” (1973) and “Cannon” (1974-75).
In addition to portraying Harrington in four episodes of “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” (1994), Bonner made other television appearances in “The Duck Factory” (1984), “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” (1985) and ” Punky Brewster “(1986). The actor also played It. RT Mooney in “Sidekicks” (1986) and father Robert Hargis on “Growing Pains” spin-off “Just the Ten of Us” (1988-90).