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TV, Utah stage star Gordon Jump, 71, dies of lung ailment

Gordon Jump
Gordon Jump

LOS ANGELES — 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.

Jump was well known to Utah audiences. He performed in local theater and in productions by Utah-based Bonneville International. In 1998 he co-hosted the first annual Pearl Awards, which honors popular music related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He became a convert to the LDS Church early in his acting career, after meeting Ruth and Nathan Hale when the Utah couple was running a theater in Glendale, Calif.

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