Frank Bonner, star of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ dead at 79

Frank Bonner, star of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ dead at 79

Frank Bonner, who played Herb Tarlek on the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” has died. He was 79.

Bonner passed away “peacefully” Wednesday amid his battle with Lewy body dementia, his family told TMZ..

As Herb on “WKRP” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bonner was the quintessential salesman in a gaudy plaid suit and white loafers, despite struggling as a radio station sales manager who consistently failed to reel in the big accounts.

The actor turned to directing in a few episodes of “WKRP,” and later reprised the role in the early ’90s spinoff, “The New WKRP in Cincinnati.”

He wore both hats again in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” playing recurring character Mr. Harrington. Bonner went on to direct in several of the decade’s biggest sitcoms, including “Who’s the Boss?,” “Head of the Class” and “Newhart,” starring comedy legend Bob Newhart.

Bonner’s thrill seeking saw him in crutches on an episode of “WKRP” after he was injured in a freak parasailing accident, falling 20 feet and suffering many internal and back injuries.

Frank Bonner, Loni Anderson in a typically saucy scene from "WKRP in Cincinnati."
Frank Bonner and Loni Anderson in a typically wacky scene from the classic sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
Courtesy Everett Collection
Frank Bonner attends Griffith Park Observatory Museum Foundation Benefit on May 13, 1996 in Los Angeles, California
Frank Bonner attends Griffith Park Observatory Museum Foundation Benefit on May 13, 1996 in Los Angeles, California
Ron Galella Collection via Getty