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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Actor's roles filled lives with laughter

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

"It's funny how some television characters just seem to fit well into your home"

Arthur Carlson has died. As the nation continues to mourn the recent deaths of Johnny Cash and John Ritter, few probably noticed that Carlson died this week. Actually, Gordon Jump died. But to me and a handful of other longtime fans, Jump will forever be Arthur Carlson, the inept but lovable station manager for WKRP radio in Cincinnati.

Though you may not be a fan, I freely admit to a true love affair with "WKRP." Running for five years from the late '70s to '82, the sitcom was a weekly ritual. And then along came reruns and the fun started again and again.

You may remember Gordon Jump in another role. He played the lonely Maytag repairman in a series of commercial that aired on television for a dozen years or more. That job kept Jump in the public's eye but to me he'll forever be Arthur Carlson.

It's funny how some television characters just seem to fit well into your home. With "Friends" about to begin a final season this week, millions of fans will mourn their passing into rerun heaven just as I did two decades ago when Dr. Johnny Fever and Les Nessman and Arthur Carlson bid farewell. Surrounded by an assortment of characters - Jennifer Marlowe, Venus Flytrap and the ever-popular Herb Tarlek Jr. - the sitcom didn't break new ground or make overt political statements, it just made you laugh.

Remember the turkey giveaway episode? The look on Carlson's face and the reporting of Nessman combined to make it a brief moment in television sitcom history. Gosh I miss those guys.

Gordon Jump will be remembered by his colleagues and a handful of fans like myself. He certainly won't rank among the elite of television history. And other than Dr. Fever and Jennifer, few of the stars of that show ever advanced to other works that you or I would recognize. Carlson's commercials for Maytag actually made him nearly as visible as Loni Anderson who played the sexy secretary Jennifer.

The pages of the major magazines won't devote much space to Jump's passing. He may not even merit a mention. But that should not diminish his humor nor the role he played in bringing laughter. Though clearly unskilled in the role of station manager of "WKRP," Carlson (Jump) nonetheless held his own against a cast of characters that to this day make me laugh. And I for one will miss him.

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