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Where Are They Now - WKRP in Cincinnati


"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

It's one of the funniest lines ever spoken, and it followed one of the classic scenes in network television...the Thanksgiving episode on WKRP in Cincinnati, when the station held a radio promotion, in which live turkeys were droppped on a suburban mall, and Les Nessman reported live from the scene. Just describing it brings a smile to my face.

We posted the video a couple months ago, as we do every year. But this year, I thought it might be time to check in on WKRP gang, to see what they're up to these days.

Herb Tarlek, played by Frank Bonner
Herb Tarlek was the sleazy ad manager at WKRP. If you saw a white belt and patent leather shoes coming your way, you knew it was Herb. Frank Bonner is the man who brought Herb to life, and after KRP, he went on to a life behind the camera. Frank has directed episodes of Who's the Boss, Head of the Class and Evening Shade, and has a role in a 2008 flick called Remembering Phil. He'll play the guy in the polyester suit.

Andy Travis, played by Gary Sandy
Andy Travis was originally written to be the lead character (he's the subject of the theme song) but he was just too nice a guy to carry the whole show. Before WKRP, Gary Sandy was a soap opera star, appearing in Another World and As The World Turns. And when he left the station, he went the television guest appearance route, in shows like Murder She Wrote, LA Law and Diagnosis Murder. I actually remember seeing him in the Al Pacino flick, The Insider. But recently, he seems to be focusing mostly on regional theater. You can get the complete rundown at his official website.

Jennifer Marlowe, played by Loni Anderson
You don't need me to tell you about Loni and Burt. They made National Enquirer cover news practically ever week in the early nineties. But more recently, she's had recurring roles on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, VIP, The Mullets (nice) and played Tori Spellings' mom on NoTORious. I also found a recent TMZ video, of Loni leaving the Beverly Hills Barneys. Gotta say...she still looks great.

Les Nessman, played by Richard Sanders
Richard Sanders was responsible for the "Oh, the humanity" play-by-play for the turkey drop scene, and he performed it brilliantly. But after WKRP, I can't find much of anything about him. His IMDB page has him in a bunch of tv movies I've never heard of. But I did see he played "God" in something called Circus of Infinity, so that's pretty exciting. I wonder if he wore a band-aid for the part.

Venus Flytrap, played by Tim Reid
Tim Reid wins the Most Fulfilling Life after WKRP award. After his Venus Flytrap days, Mr., Reid went on to star in Simon & Simon, Frank's Place, Sister Sister, and That 70's Show. But outside of acting, he's also an NAACP Image Award winner, a stand-up comedian, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tim Reid Scholarship Foundation, with his wife Daphne. There's even an annual Tim Reid Celebrity Weekend in Hampton, Virginia. How many of you can say that? Finally, there were some Internet rumors just last week that Mr. Reid had checked himself into a rehab facility. The rumors turned out to be false. Venus always just says no.

Bailey Quarters, played by Jan Smithers
Bailey, Bailey, Bailey. I don't know about you, but I was always a Bailey guy. Jennifer was never my type. So where did Jan Smithers go after Bailey? Why, into the arms of James Brolin, of course. Until James landed in th arms of Barbara Streisand, that is. But lets just cut to the harsh part...just last year, Jan was involved in a trafic accident...a naked traffic accident She was driving naked in the middle of the night, got out of her car and began waving down a truck, and the truck driver didn’t see her and hit her. Ironically, when the police got to the scene, they found nothing wrong with her car. Apparently, Ms. Smithers had been distraught ever since her father died, and this was just part of the breakdown. She's since recovered form her injuries, but the psychological ones may run much deeper. We wish Ms. Smithers well.

Dr. Johnny Fever, played by Howard Hesseman
Many would say Johhny Fever was the star of the show. And in my opinion, those people would be correct. Johnny rocked. He perfected the hungover but still need to function because my rent is due look. And oh, how I can relate. After his DJ years, Howard Hesseman obviously went on to Head of the Class (which I never got into), but he's also had guest roles in everything from Touched by an Angel to House, ER and Boston Legal. He's been in dozens of flicks. And I recently saw him on HBO's John from Cincinnati, in which he played "The Chemist". From Dr. Fever to the Chemist...and the pharmaceutical circle of life is complete.

Mr. Carlson, played by Gordan Jump
And last, but certainly not least, we pay our respects to the memorable Mr. Carlson...AKA: Gordan Jump. You probably know he went on to become the Maytag repairman for several years. But sadly, Mr. Jump passed away in 2003. And as God was his witness, he left this mortal coil, knowing that turkeys, sadly enough, cannot fly.

The Turkey Drop scene

And finally...anyone remember this peach of an idea?
In the tradition of Joey, AfterMASH and Joanie Loves Chachi...Herb, Les and Mr. Carlson went on to star in the New WKRP. Here's a clip.

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That's awful about Jan Smithers. Tim Reid is lookin' good! And I will always consider Howard Hesseman sexy. I blame these people for the 24 years I spent on the radio.

said Miss Cellania on January 22, 2008 8:25 AM.

I think Les Nessman is doing mostly voice work for the radio now, I keep hearing someone who sounds like him on a local thing called "Imagination Theater".

said Dave M on May 19, 2008 5:08 PM.

i liked the colored guy tim reid. the show in a way was similar to green acres, an underlying satire thruout.

said mr. millhouse on June 1, 2008 11:27 PM.

noone uses the term 'colored"anymore,you azzclown..!!
anyway,i like this site.i can see what some of my favorite charcter actors have been up to..

said sam sausagehead on June 6, 2008 8:27 AM.

I agree with the article, Jan was HOT and had that kinky "quiet girl" quality. I'm glad I never saw the New WKRP show...it would have been a letdown and just sad if it was anything like the other "updated" shows.

said Bert on June 6, 2008 10:15 PM.

Give Millhouse a break, its not as offensive as a lot of the junk posted in net comment sections, he may just be stuck in the early 50's. No need to cuss him.

said Rob G on June 8, 2008 8:06 AM.

Actually, "mr sausagehead" the politically correct are constantly using the term "persons of color" which really isn't all that different.

said Francesca on July 1, 2008 2:04 PM.

Ah! WKRP! One of the best shows ever made. Even during the re-runs, when I already know what's going to happen, I still laugh out loud.

Very sorry to hear about Jan's troubles. I'm a Bailey guy too. I hope she knows many still care about her and wish her well.

I saw the"New WKRP" and as lame as it was, it actually started to develop a little spark before it was yanked. They made an honest effort to capture the old chemistry and stay true to the old show, but that's a pretty tall order after the original cast. Still, I've seen worse.

I want to give an honorable mention to the late Ian Wolfe who played Hirsch, the butler and the late Carol Bruce, who played Mr. Carlton's mother. When she barked "HIRSCH!" everyone in a 10 mile radius jumped--except Hirsch. Now that's good television!

said Anonymous on September 22, 2008 5:10 PM.

Does anyone know who performs the closing theme at the end of the show?

said curious on October 11, 2008 12:02 PM.

Does anyone know anything about Patrie Allen who played Johnny Fever's daughter. Her age? What's happened to her?

said Machinery Man on October 26, 2008 8:42 PM.

WKRP in Cincinnati is back on WGN America on Sunday nights, and still stands proudly as one of the funniest shows in TV history. I have no idea how anyone can compare it to Green Acres by any stretch of the imagination; that's just plain WRONG. Recently, however, I caught a great quote from Ric Peterson at CJAD 800 in Montreal when the topic was radio, and the show was mentioned. Ric said "A lot of you thought WKRP was a sitcom...you're wrong, my friends. It was a documentary!" Having done nearly 35 years on the air myself, I nearly drove off the road after that comment! Word is that Hugh Wilson, who developed WKRP, based a lot of it on actual experiences...and it didn't hurt that Howard Hesseman and Tim Reid both had some experience in radio as well. Great writing and ensemble acting made this show one of the best ever. But similar to Green Acres? I want some of whatever YOU'RE smoking...heheheh

said AP on December 1, 2008 7:14 AM.

Great show! I used to work at a bar for several years during the 1990's. When I got home around 3am I would watch reruns of WKRP, Wings and Newhart. Three great shows that helped me end my day on a happy note. Most of the sitcoms today are very lame.......but I do like the OFFICE and 30 ROCK.

said Funny SHow on December 13, 2008 7:18 AM.

bailey rocked !!!!! i was def into ms smithers very hottttt!!!!! the show was awesome they dont make them like they used too!!!!!

said sean on April 14, 2009 10:06 AM.

When WKRP came on you knew you were in for a treat. I remember back during those days the lightheartedness the show created that gave many of us a sense of an extended family in those who made up the cast. It has been 30 years already since WKRP, time sure does fly. I hope Jan Smithers and the rest are doing well. WKRP gave us some very happy moments. May God bless them all.

Our WKRP friends Gordon Jump, Carol Bruce and Ian Wolfe have passed on but they will be fondly remembered.

said rick on October 13, 2010 5:28 PM.
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