The spotlight shines on the stage, and as the curtains slowly draw back, a familiar face emerges. It’s Loni Anderson, the timeless beauty who once lit up the small screen with her unforgettable charm and impeccable comedic timing. But what has become of Anderson since her days as the beloved Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati?
In this “Where Are They Now”-style video, viewers will be amazed to see how the iconic actress has aged, and trust us, you won’t want to look away. So get ready to gasp, laugh, and reminisce as we take a closer look at the fascinating life and career of Loni Anderson, who’s now 77 years young.
Factsverse presents: Loni Anderson is 77, Try Not to Gasp When You See Her Today
Loni Anderson’s Early Years
Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, Loni Anderson first burst onto the scene when she was born in August of 1946. Right from the get-go, her beauty is undeniable, and she crowns Valentine Queen at her high school’s winter formal. But this was no mere trophy wife in the making — Anderson had a sharp mind and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that led her to enroll at the prestigious University of Minnesota in 1963. To pay her way through school, she utilized her stunning looks to win a slew of beauty pageants, including Miss Roseville, which earned her a spot in the Miss Minnesota competition. Though she was only a runner-up, Anderson had already set her sights on something bigger than a mere crown.
But even though she had lofty career goals, life had other plans for Anderson, and while still in college, she found herself swept off her feet by Bruce Hasselbeck. The two tied the knot, and soon welcomed a baby girl named Deidra into the world. But love can be a fickle thing, and the marriage quickly fell apart, leaving Anderson to raise her daughter as a single, working mother. Despite the challenges she faced, Anderson never gave up on her dreams. It was during this time that she discovered her true passion for acting, taking on roles in local theater productions and commercials. Little did she know, the stage was only the beginning of her journey to stardom.
Loni Anderson And Ross Bickell
In 1975, Loni Anderson and her second husband, Ross Bickell, traded in the cold winters of Minnesota for the sunny skies of Los Angeles, determined to make it big in the entertainment industry. Anderson quickly began booking supporting roles on various TV shows, including fan favorites like “Barnaby Jones,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “The Incredible Hulk.” She even auditioned for the role of Chrissy on the wildly popular sitcom “Three’s Company,” though as you’re probably well-aware, the part ultimately went to Suzanne Somers. Despite the snub, Anderson’s talents didn’t go unnoticed. “I don’t know why she didn’t get it,” said John Ritter, the show’s star. “She did a great audition.”
But fate had bigger plans for Anderson, and it wasn’t long before her star began to rise. In 1978, she landed the role of Jennifer Marlowe, the sultry receptionist on the hit sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
She Turned Down The Role At First
When she casts Jennifer Marlowe on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” she initially had concerns about the role. As one of the few women on set, Anderson knew that her character could easily be reduced to a one-dimensional stereotype. Rather than simply declining the role, Anderson expressed her worries to the show’s writers and demanded that her character be given more depth and intelligence.
Anderson’s assertiveness paid off, and the writers equipped Jennifer with razor sharp wit and a dynamic personality that broke new ground for female characters on TV.
Anderson also struggled with the decision to dye her hair blonde for the role, as she had been a brunette her entire life and wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. Despite her reservations, Anderson decided to go blonde and has sported her signature blonde tresses ever since.
Loni Anderson’s Multi-Faceted Personality
Loni Anderson has spoken about how there are two sides to her personality: the public persona and the private person. According to the actress, the public image of her as a sex symbol is not how she truly sees herself. In a 1983 interview, Anderson revealed that being labeled a sex symbol felt unnatural and overwhelming to her. She stated that the label is so big that it would strip away her identity as a real person.
Despite this, Anderson has always recognized the value of her looks in the entertainment industry. In the same interview, she shared how her co-star Pat O’Brien encouraged her to take her chances in Hollywood because there weren’t many attractive comedians around. After pondering the advice for several months, Anderson decided to take the leap from theater to television, which proved to be a pivotal moment in her career.
During its four-year run, the entire cast of WKRP was downright hilarious, but viewers couldn’t seem to take their eyes off Anderson’s gorgeous, blond character. Jennifer Marlowe somehow managed to keep her cool despite the constant chaos around her. She always put her boss, Mr. Carlson, first, but left her co-workers to fend for themselves. Her trademark look was her stylish, figure-hugging outfits that accentuated her curves in all the right places.
Despite the sitcom’s less than impressive ratings, it still managed to cultivate a loyal fan base made up of teenagers, young adults, and actual radio station employees. It’s no secret that Anderson’s stunning presence helped keep the show on the air for as long as it lasted.
After airing 90 episodes, WKRP in Cincinnati came to an end on April 21, 1982. After its initial run, WKRP found a new life in syndication and surpassed the expectations of many by becoming a huge success. For the following decade, it remained one of the most popular sitcoms in syndication, outshining many shows that had enjoyed greater success during their prime time runs.
Years later, Anderson would reprise her role as Jennifer as a guest star on The New WKRP in Cincinnati which aired from 1991 to 1993.
Success Before and After WKRP
Anderson’s acting career spans over four decades, with screen credits ranging from 1966 to 2020. She started out playing a minor role as a “brunette saloon girl” in the Steve McQueen western Nevada Smith before transitioning to television in the mid-’70s. During this time, she appeared on several shows, including S.W.A.T., Barnaby Jones, The Bob Newhart Show, and Three’s Company. Anderson also starred in The Jayne Mansfield Story, a TV movie alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was her role as Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati that made her a household name.
After the show ended in 1982, Anderson wasted no time in securing new roles. She appeared on several series, with her longest-running roles being on Partners in Crime, Easy Street, Nurses, Melrose Place, The Mullets, and So Notorious. Her most recent project was the comedy series My Sister Is So Gay, which ran from 2016 to 2018. Anderson also appeared in a pilot for a TV show called Love You More in 2019 while portraying the character Jean Carlyle Dixon.
Despite appearing less frequently on television, Loni Anderson continues to lead a Hollywood lifestyle by gracing the red carpet at numerous galas, premieres, and charity events. One such appearance in July 2017 saw the actress looking as youthful as ever in a black denim jacket and jeans, with her blonde hair flowing. At the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala less than two years later, Loni beamed with joy. In an interview with Closer Weekly, Loni spoke about embracing her age and how she hopes to challenge the stereotype of what grandmothers look like.
Anderson’s Personal Life
Anderson has been married four times throughout her life, starting with Bruce Hasselberg in 1964. Although their marriage only lasted for two years, they had a daughter named Deidra Hasselberg.
In 1973, Anderson married Ross Bickell, an aspiring actor, and they moved to Los Angeles together to chase their dreams. However, their marriage ended in 1981, while Anderson was still starring on WKRP in Cincinnati.
Anderson’s most famous marriage was to Hollywood icon Burt Reynolds, whom she met while filming Stroker Ace in 1988. They adopted a son named Quinton Anderson Reynolds, but after 12 years of marriage, they divorced in a highly publicized and contentious split.
But, as fate would have it, Anderson found happiness with her fourth and current husband, Bob Flick. The two had dated in the 1960s and rekindled their romance later in life, ultimately tying the knot in May of 2008. Anderson has called it destiny, saying that she married the man she should have married back in 1963.
She’s Saving Lives
As a child, Anderson was raised by parents who belonged to the World War II generation and were both heavy smokers. Growing up in a household where smoking was the norm, Anderson was exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke and the long-term effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, a debilitating lung disease that can develop from smoking.
Determined to make a difference and raise awareness about COPD, Anderson became a spokesperson for a COPD support organization called COPD Together in 1999. Through her advocacy work, Anderson hoped to educate people about the countless dangers of smoking and encourage them to take steps to prevent the onset of COPD. She worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for the organization and was recognized for her efforts with several awards and honors.
Anderson’s commitment to the cause has not waned over the years, and she continues to use her platform to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and the importance of lung health. Her efforts have helped countless individuals and families affected by COPD, and her dedication to the cause serves as an inspiration to many.
Well, that’s about all that we have lined up for you for this video, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed checking in on her with us. Before you go, we’d love to hear from. Did you know that Loni Anderson almost turned down the role of Jennifer on WKRP in Cincinnati and that she has continued to act regularly for the last four decades? Let us know in the comments. And as always, thanks for watching.