- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Frank Bonner, the actor and TV director best known for his portrayal of the tactless radio-station sales manager Herb Tarlek on the admired 1978-82 CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, has died. He was 79.
Bonner died Wednesday at his home in Laguna Niguel, California, of complications from Lewy body dementia, his wife, Gayle, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Bonner also appeared as Father Hargis, headmaster at the fictional St. Augustine’s Academy, on the 1988-90 ABC show Just the Ten of Us, a spinoff of Growing Pains (both series starred stand-up comedian Bill Kirchenbauer).
Bonner played the inept but lovable Tarlek, who was quite fond of polyester, plaid and station receptionist Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson), on 88 episodes over all four seasons of WKRP in Cincinnati. He then returned for The New WKRP in Cincinnati, which ran from 1991-93.
Hugh Wilson, a former sales executive at a Top 40 radio station, created WKRP (the fictional station’s call letters were a pun on “W-crap”).
Bonner directed six episodes of the original WKRP and seven of the reboot as well as installments of Just the Ten of Us and Saved by the Bell: The New Class. And from 1997-2001, he called the shots on 105 episodes of NBC’s City Guys.
His other directing credits included Family Ties, Who’s the Boss?, Head of the Class, Evening Shade and Harry and the Hendersons.
Bonner was born Frank Woodrow Boers Jr. on Feb. 28, 1942, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was raised in Malvern, Arkansas, and spent six years in the U.S. Navy before making his onscreen debut in the 1967 cult film The Equinox … A Journey Into the Supernatural.
He made his way onto such shows as Mannix, The F.B.I., Emergency!, Cannon and Police Woman before striking it big on WKRP.
Afterward, he showed up on episodes of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Newhart, The Duck Factory, Matt Houston, Night Court, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Murder, She Wrote.
During a break from WKRP in 1979, he was severely injured in a parachute accident while being towed by a four-wheel vehicle in the Mojave Desert.
In addition to his wife of nearly 15 years — they were high school sweethearts before they reunited — survivors include his daughters Desiree (and her wife, Mona) and DeAndra (and her husband, Matt); sons Justin and Matthew; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day