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Frank Bonner (1942–2021), “WKRP in Cincinnati” star

by Linnea Crowther

Frank Bonner was an actor best known for starring as sales manager Herb Tarlek in the hit 1970s and ‘80s sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Acting career

Bonner had several small roles in movies and TV shows including “Mannix” and “Love, American Style” before landing his signature role on “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Herb Tarlek became the role that Bonner was inescapably linked with. Known for his garish suits, which were often plaid and accessorized with a white belt and shoes, Herb made viewers laugh with his crass behavior and mediocre ad sales skills. Bonner returned as Herb in the 1991 spinoff, “The New WKRP in Cincinnati.” He was also a star of the “Growing Pains” spinoff “Just the Ten of Us,” and he had a recurring role on “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.” Bonner also directed several episodes of “WKRP in Cincinnati” as well as  directing episodes of shows including “Evening Shade,” “Newhart,” and “Who’s the Boss?”

Bonner on the legendary WKRP Thanksgiving episode

“My most fond memories of ‘Turkeys Away’ are Richard Sanders’s (a very good actor) use of the reporter’s description of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster – [and then] ‘…the turkeys are hitting the ground like bags of wet cement.’” –from a 2012 interview for the Classic TV History Blog

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Tributes to Frank Bonner

Full obituary: CNN

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