The Tragic Death Of Frank Bonner

Frank Bonner, the star who played Herb Tarlek on the TV sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" in the late 1970s, died June 16. He was 79. According to TMZ, he died peacefully "as a result of complications from Lewy body dementia." He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death. 

The actor was best known for his role as "the radio station sales manager who could never land the big account," TMZ noted. Bonner even reprised the role a decade later for the "New WKRP in Cincinnati," which ran from 1991 to 1993. Aside from acting, Bonner was also a director and was the man behind the camera for episodes a number of other television series, including "Family Ties," "The Van Dyke Show," "Who's the Boss," and "Saved By the Bell: The New Class." His last-ever acting credit came in the form of the character Larry in "Under the Hollywood Sign" in 2014.

Scroll ahead to see how Bonner's friends and fans honored him following his death.

Frank Bonner's fans said goodbye to his TV show character

After news of Frank Bonner's death, his fans and friends took to Twitter to mourn the TV star. Toronto radio host John Derringer wrote: "Can't count the number of times someone's walked into our station sales office and said 'So, is there a Herb Tarlek around here?' The answer has always been 'Yes.' A perfect character. RIP Frank Bonner." 

Comedian Brent Butt tweeted, "RIP Frank Bonner, who played, among other things, one of the best/funniest TV characters in the history of the medium, Herb Tarlek." Singer Julie Nesrallah added, "Perfectly cast. Decorating the heavens with plaid suits at that great radio station in the sky."

The actor's fans also share tributes on social media, particularly remembering his "WKRP in Cincinnati" character's unforgettable fashion sense. Entertainment Weekly editor Dalton Ross wrote: "In memory of Frank Bonner, let's all bow down at the altar of TV's ultimate fashion god, Herb Freakin' Tarlek!" Another person added, "R.I.P. Frank Bonner. He portrayed the man with the loudest suits on television." Among fans, Bonner's legacy is sure to live on.

Frank Bonner's co-star said she's 'heartbroken' over his death

Some of Frank Bonner's "WKRP in Cincinnati" cast mates also shared statements and kinds words for the actor following his death. Loni Anderson, who played the show's receptionist Jennifer Marlowe for four seasons, said she was "heartbroken" over the news. "Frank Bonner was like family," she told The Associated Press. "He was one of the funniest men I had the pleasure of working with and he was the nicest man I have ever known."

In May, she opened up to Fox News about what it was like to work on the series, recalling her favorite on-set moment was with him. "Gosh, I have so many," she said at the time. "But there's one spectacular scene I did with Frank Bonner, who played the salesman who was always after me. Jan Smithers, who played Bailey Quarters, told me to accept a date with him and maybe I would scare him away and he would leave me alone." She noted he was "poignant" in the scene, calling him "talented and gifted."

Gary Sandy, another one of Bonner's co-stars, was one of the first to confirmed the star's passing on Facebook. "It Is True!" he wrote alongside two images of his friend. "Frank Passed Away, Yesterday June 16th at 3:48 Pacific Time RIP My Great Friend!!!"

Frank Bonner's daughter said her dad loved his fans

According to the Toronto Sun, Frank Bonner was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia about three years ago, but his daughter Desiree Boers-Kort revealed her dad was signing autographs for his "WKRP in Cincinnati" fans until the very end. "I'm deeply saddened to let you know that our beloved Frank Bonner passed away today at age 79," she shared with a the TV sitcom's Facebook group (per Forbes). "He loved his fans and was still signing autograph requests up until the last few weeks of his illness." Desiree added, "Thank you to all who followed his career. He will be forever missed."

Desiree also told The Associated Press that although her father cherished his time on the sitcom, he preferred directing over acting. "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," she said. She also shared a sweet words about the actor, who she described as a "very humble and down-to-earth, and just a nice, kind human."

AP reports that his son, Michael, had preceded him in death. Other than his daughter, Desiree, Bonner is survived by his wife, Gayle Hardage Bonner, "his high school sweetheart in Malvern," his sons Matthew and Justine Bonner, his stepdaughter DeAndra Freed, as well as seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.