How did Frank Bonner die? 'WKRP in Cincinnati' star, 79, had 'best suits ever'

Frank Bonner passed away from complications stemming from Lewy body dementia on June 16

                            How did Frank Bonner die? 'WKRP in Cincinnati' star, 79, had 'best suits ever'
Frank Bonner who played a brash salesman with an affection for polyester plaid suits 'WKRP in Cincinnati' died at 79 (Instagram @gettv_official)

American actor and television director, Frank Bonner, who was best known for his role as Herb Tarlek on the CBS sitcom 'WKRP in Cincinnati', passed away on June 16. He was 79 years old. Reportedly, the actor passed away from complications stemming from Lewy body dementia.

Bonner died peacefully, with his family by his side. Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a disease in which abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein accumulate in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. The year 2021 has claimed some beloved stars who will always be remembered. To name a few, 'Deliverance' star, Ned Beatty passed away at the age of 83 on June 13. Popular TV and film actress Lisa Banes succumbed to a traumatic brain injury on June 14.


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His death was announced on Facebook by daughter Desiree Boers-Kort. “I’m deeply saddened to let you know that our beloved Frank Bonner passed away today at age 79,” she wrote on the WKRP in Cincinnati home page. “He loved his fans and was still signing autograph requests up until the last few weeks of his illness. Thank you to all who followed his career. He will be forever missed.” According to CBC, Frank had been diagnosed about three years ago with the disease that leads to worsening mental and physical complications.

"He did prefer the behind-the-camera [work], and he thoroughly enjoyed helping people get to where he needed them to be for the scenes," Boers-Kort revealed. "He was very humble and down-to-earth, and just a nice, kind human." He got a kick out of Herb's ill-advised wardrobe and kept some of the belts when the show ended, his daughter said. He kept them because he knew the character's style was "one of the things that people loved about him."

Frank began his acting career as Frank Boers, Jr in the 1967 experimental independent film 'The Equinox… A Journey into the Unknown'. Subsequent episodic TV appearances followed, including roles in the late ’60s-early ’70s series such as Mannix, The F.B.I., Love, American Style and Cannon. Frank's made TV and film appearances well into the 2000s, with roles on 'Saved by the Bell: The New Class'; 'City Guys'; and, in 2014, the film 'Under the Hollywood Sign', his final credit.

 Frank played Herb Tarlek, the radio station sales manager who could never land the big account on 'WKRP in Cincinnati' a situation comedy about characters at a radio station from 1978 to 1982. The show was set in an Ohio radio station trying to reinvent itself with rock. The cast included Gary Sandy, Tim Reid, Howard Hesseman and Jan Smithers, alongside Frank. The actor reprised his role a decade later for 'The New WKRP in Cincinnati' which ran on CBS from 1991 to 1993. Frank’s character was known for wearing loud, plaid suits on the show plus white shoes and a matching belt. Frank directed a handful of episodes on the OG 'WKRP in Cincinnati' series. Over the course of the series’ four seasons, however, the radio’s hipper employees took a liking to the good-hearted Herb, as did the station’s receptionist Jennifer, played by Loni Anderson.

Frank had also suffered serious injuries in October 1979 following a parachute accident. He was injured after falling about 20 feet when his ascendency chute collapsed while he was being towed by a four-wheel-drive vehicle over a dry lake bed near Los Angeles. 

Along with daughter Boers-Kort, Bonner is survived by his wife, Gayle; daughter DeAndra; sons Justin and Matthew; in-laws; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Former castmates and fans of the actor took to Twitter to pay tributes to the 'Saved by the Bell' star.  Anderson, who played the station's receptionist Jennifer, said she was "heartbroken" over his death. "Frank Bonner was like family," Anderson said in a statement. "He was one of the funniest men I had the pleasure of working with and he was the nicest man I have ever known."

Remembering his style on the show, a fan tweeted "Best suits.Ever". Another shared, "Love how we can all remember many of his lines…where did you get that suit? Herb says, if I tell you, you tell someone else, pretty soon everyone will dress like me . RIP Frank."Others remembered their favorite parts from the show,"I loved that show and have the first episode and the turkeys can’t fly episodes on tape. There were a couple of times I laughed so hard at Herb, I thought I was going to pass out from lack of air Face with tears of joy what a great actor. RIP Frank."





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