John Hostetter, who recurred in dozens of Murphy Brown episodes starting in Year 1 and appeared in about 100 films and TV shows, has died. He was 69. His family said he died Friday of cancer complications in New Smyrna Beach, FL.
Hostetter was best known for playing John, the imperturbable stage manager of FYI, the newsmag-within-a-show featured in Murphy Brown. Starring Candice Bergen as the titular investigative reporter and anchor, the CBS sitcom ran for 10 seasons from 1988-98, and Hostetter appeared in all of them. The series was not an instant hit, but by Season 3 in 1990-91, it was among the top 10 shows in primetime and would remain there through Season 6, peaking in 1991-92 as he No. 3 show of the year behind 60 Minutes and Roseanne.
Hostetter already had been working in films and TV for a decade before scoring his signature role. He appeared in such films as The In-Laws and Heart Beat before scoring guest gigs on some of the most popular shows of the 1980s including CHiPs, Simon & Simon, Hill Street Blues, The Golden Girls, Moonlighting, Family Ties and Dallas. In 1985, he recurred on the syndication cartoon series G.I. Joe, launching a separate career as a voice artist. He would reprise the role of Bazooka in a 1987 straight-to-video G.I. Joe movie.
The Brooklyn native who grew up in Hanover, PA, appeared on stage (including a 1971 production of Waiting tor Godot with a young Christopher Reeve, at left), and later appeared in the mid-’80s films Into the Night, Heartbreak Ridge, Beverly Hills Cop II, No Way Out and Leonard Part 6 — opposite Bill Cosby — and he continued to work on the big and small screens during his Murphy Brown years. During that time, he had guest roles on such popular series as Cagney & Lacey, Falcon Crest, Quantum Leap, L.A. Law, Matlock, MacGyver, Knots Landing, Who’s the Boss? and NYPD Blue. Post-Murphy Brown credits range from TV’s ER and JAG to the feature Star Trek: Insurrection.
His many voice credits include animation fare like 1997’s Princess Mononoke and Twilight of the Dark Master and video games such as 1999’s Vampire Hunter D.
Hostetter’s survivors include Del, his wife of 40 years; his sister, Flora; three nephews and a grand-nephew.