Notable Deaths ›

Hugh Wilson (1943 – 2018), creator of the classic sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati”

Getty/ George Rose

Directed and co-wrote the popular comedy “Police Academy”

Hugh Wilson, creator of the classic sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” has died at the age of 74, according to multiple news sources. 

His family announced that he died on Sunday at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Wilson was an advertising copywriter and a radio sales executive before he moved into writing for television. He was a writer for the legendary sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show” and then a writer for “The Tony Randall Show.” 

In 1978, Wilson created the hip sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” about the misadventures of the staff at a struggling radio station in Cincinnati. Howard Hessman as DJ “Dr. Johnny Fever” and Loni Anderson as the receptionist Jennifer Marlowe were breakout stars. Other popular characters on the ensemble show were Tim Reid as cool DJ “Venus Flytrap” and the fussy news reporter Les Nessman, played by Richard Sanders.

The series ran on CBS from 1978 until 1982. “WKRP” featured an all-time iconic episode called “Turkeys Away,” in which the station decides to drop live turkeys from a helicopter on Thanksgiving Day, not realizing that domestic turkeys can’t fly. 

In 1983, Wilson was asked to rewrite a screenplay for a movie about a group of misfits trying to join the police force. In a 2015 interview with the Archive of American Television, Wilson talked about the script that would become the classic comedy film “Police Academy.” 

"I got this script, and it was such a lousy piece of junk," "I told my agent that I was in no way interested.” "He came back to me and said, 'This is The Ladd Co., it's an important company, part of Warner Bros., a lot of important people are attached — and they're saying that if you do a rewrite, they'll let you direct it.' I said, 'That's a whole different story.'"

Wilson co-wrote and directed the film which grossed over 140 million dollars worldwide and spawned six spin-off movies. He would only be involved in the first movie of the franchise.


Click to get weekly celebrity death news delivered to your inbox.


Wilson created three other TV series. “Frank’s Place," starring WKRP’s Tim Reid; “The Famous Teddy Z” with Jon Cryer and “Easy Street," starring Loni Anderson. 

In the movies, he directed “First Wives Club," starring Goldie Hawn and “Guarding Tess,” starring Shirley MacLaine. 

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Charters Smith Wilson; children Cannon, Price, Margaret, Hugh and Caroline; and four grandchildren.

We invite you to share condolences for Hugh Wilson in his Guest Book.