'WKRP' Actor Dead At 71

Gordon Jump as the Maytag Ol' Lonely Repairman, 2001/1/10 AP

Gordon Jump, who played a befuddled radio station manager on the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" and made his mark in commercials as the lonely Maytag repairman, died Monday. He was 71.

Jump suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, said his cousin, Katherine Jump Wagner. The illness causes scarring of the air sacs of the lungs, leading to heart or respiratory failure.

Wagner, of Arcanum, Ohio, said she learned of her cousin's death from her father, also named Gordon Jump. Her cousin was under hospice care at his home southeast of Los Angeles, she said.

Jump played Arthur Carlson in "WKRP in Cincinnati," which aired on CBS from 1978-82 and featured Gary Sandy, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Howard Hesseman and Richard Sanders as the ragtag station's crew.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Jump began his career working at radio and TV stations in the Midwest. He worked behind the microphone and the camera, including jobs as a producer for Kansas and Ohio stations.

Jump portrayed the Maytag repairman "Ol' Lonely," a well-recognized advertising symbol, from 1989 until he retired from the role in July and another actor took over.

"Gordon was an incredibly talented actor and a remarkable human being," said Ralph Hake, chairman and chief executive officer of Maytag Corp.

Jump came to appreciate the attention he got for the ad campaign and the steady work it provided, Wagner said. But his heart was elsewhere professionally.

"What he loved more than anything was doing theater. He was a marvelous actor," she said, recalling a visit to Florida to watch him perform in "Norman, Is That You?"

Jump began his Hollywood career after moving to Los Angeles in 1963, appearing on series including "Daniel Boone," "Get Smart" and "The Partridge Family."

His dramatic roles included a part in the TV movie "Ruby and Oswald," about the assassination of President Kennedy, and "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes."

Jump is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son, Maytag said in a statement. He also had a brother, Wagner said.
  • Dan Collins

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