Loni Anderson experienced a meteoric rise to fame when she starred on the classic sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. The series aired on CBS for four seasons premiering on September 18, 1978. And running until it’s end on April 21, 1982. The show revolved around a struggling fictional radio station headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. And while detailing the misadventures of the ragtag group of staffers that called WKRP their place of employment.
Anderson played the character Jennifer Marlowe, the titular station’s receptionist and highest-paid employee. Despite her character’s reputation of being essentially just ‘eye candy’ for the station. Marlowe actually fairly intelligent, informed, and able to take on just about any and every situation. And no matter how off-the-wall or outlandish it was.
Marlowe considered her main job duty to be deflecting any and all business calls be it in person or over the phone, for her boss Mr. Carlson. Even though she was thoroughly aware of her undeniable sex appeal. And especially when it came to wealthy, powerful older men. She was also a very personable and well-intentioned character who treated the rest of the station’s staff with a tremendous amount of respect and compassion.
When it came to her job responsibilities, Marlowe always placed very strict standards on the quality of her work. For example, she refused to type up letters even though she was an expert typist. And opposed to making coffee or distributing it to the office staff.
Anderson didn’t expect to become such a celebrated sex symbol as quickly as she did. But it certainly didn’t hurt her career trajectory. Now that she is 75 years old, however, her life looks a bit different than it did all those years ago when WKRP in Cincinnati was still on the air.
Today she is still the gorgeous blonde bombshell that fans remember her as. But her life has taken many different twists and turns in the years since she played Jennifer Marlowe on that beloved late-70s sitcom.
Join Facts Verse as we discuss what happened to Lori Anderson in the years since WKRP in Cincinnati’s cancellation. But first, let’s take a look back on her early life and career leading up to her life-changing casting on that groundbreaking series.
Loni Anderson’s Early Days
Loni Kaye Anderson was born on August 5, 1945, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. And to parents Klardon Carl ‘Andy’ Anderson, an environmental chemist, and Maxine Hazel, who worked as a model. Anderson grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities Saint Paul and Minneapolis called Roseville. When she was a senior attending Alexander Senior High School, she voted Valentine Queen at the school’s annual Valentine’s Day Winter Formal in 1963.
After gaining that first little taste of being in the limelight by being crowned queen at her school’s dance. Anderson went on to pursue a career in acting. She made her acting debut in 1966 in the film Nevada Smith starring alongside Steve McQueen. For the next decade, however, she struggled to find work in the industry and practically unemployed.
In the mid-1970s, though, her luck started to change when she given guest roles on several popular television shows. It includes turns on S.W.A.T,, Phyllis, Police Woman, and Harry O.
Anderson had auditioned for the role of Chrissy on Three’s Company but failed to land the role. She did, however, get a chance to guest star in the series as the character Susan Walters on a season two episode that aired in 1978. And it was that appearance that captured the attention of the network execs over at ABC who saw her as having a tremendous amount of potential.
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Loni Anderson’s Time On WKRP in Cincinnati
In 1978, Anderson scored perhaps the biggest role of her career when she cast as Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati. She’s given the role after the producers of the series saw a poster of her donning a red swimsuit. And while striking a very similar pose to the one that Farrah Fawcett did in her famed 1976 poster.
Hugh Wilson, WKRP in Cincinnati’s creator, once stated that Anderson landed the role primarily because her body was reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield’s. And because she had the same kind of innocent sexuality that Marilyn Monroe known for.
WKRP in Cincinnati failed to draw in the numbers that CBS had hoped for and struggled in the Nielson ratings throughout most of it’s run. But it did have a fairly solid fan base among teens, young adults, and DJs. Anderson quickly found herself to be the somewhat unofficial ‘main attraction’ of the series due to her status as a sex symbol. But she temporarily left the series in the summer of 1980 after requesting a substantial pay increase.
During her hiatus from the series, she starred in the CBS television film The Jayne Mansfield Story. Once the network finally okayed her salary increase, Anderson returned to the show and stuck with it until it’s eventual cancellation in 1982. Since then, the show has retained popularity in syndication across the globe.
Loni Anderson’s Life And Career Post-WKRP In Cincinnati
After appearing on WKRP in Cincinnati for four years, Anderson went on to appear in a handful of TV shows and films. In 1986, she starred in the television series Partner’s in Crime. But it failed to last longer than just one season before getting the ax.
When she starred in the film Stroker Ace in 1983, Anderson met her future husband, Burt Reynolds, who was her co-star. The two married in 1988 but divorced in 1994. Reynold’s was actually Anderson’s third husband. She had previously married to a man named Bruce Hasselberg from 1964 to 1966 and to Ross Bickell from 1973 to 1981.
Anderson and Reynold’s relationship highly publicized and tumultuous. And they ended up splitting in a very nasty divorce that involved a bitter custody battle over their son, Quinton.
Anderson married to her first husband, Hasselberg when she was just 18. She and him ended up having one daughter together, Deidra.
In 2008, Anderson got married to her current husband, Bob Flick, founder of the folk outfit, The Brother’s Four. Before she and Flick tied the knot, Anderson had made a few appearances on television series throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s.
In 1993, she played a hospital administrator in the final season of Nurse, which wrapped up later that year. She also made several appearances in series such as Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and VIP.
One of her most recent roles was in 2006 when she played Tori Spelling’s snobby mother in So Notorious. In 2016, she played a minor character in an episode of the ABC Family series Baby Daddy. She followed that up with a 13 episode turn as the character Frances in the series My Sister is So Gay. Her last credited role was that of Jean Carlyle-Dixon in a pilot for a television show called Love You More. Aside from the occasional interview and guest appearance. Anderson has spent her years away from the limelight, enjoying the simpler life with her husband in California.
Even though she’s not doing much in the way of acting these days, Anderson still enjoys living the Hollywood lifestyle. She frequently makes appearances on the red carpet and attends the occasional Tinseltown gala, premiere, and charity event.
In 2017, Anderson was spotted in Santa Monica, California. And looking just as striking as she ever did while wearing a black denim jacket and jeans with her blonde locks fluttering in the breeze. Two years later, Anderson was seen smiling at the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala held in LA.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has especially affected Anderson and her family as her daughter, Deidra, is known to suffer from it. Another disease that she has become an outspoken spokesperson for is COPD. Anderson grew up with parents who came from the World War II generation. And just like so many other people who lived during that era, they were both heavy smokers. As such, Anderson had to witness firsthand the debilitating effects of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A lung disease that is often caused by tobacco smoking. In fact, it was actually while she was visiting Seattle to attend a COPD educational event that she met her current husband Bob Flick.
It’s unclear whether Loni Anderson will ever stage another return to the television screen. But she clearly seems to be enjoying her golden years. Even if she never appears onscreen again, she will always be remembered for her iconic role on WKRP in Cincinnati. And which earned her three Golden Globe Awards in addition to two Emmy Award nods.
Where you a big fan of WKRP in Cincinnati and Loni Anderson’s character Jennifer Marlowe? If so, what are some of your favorite moments from that series? Let us know in the comments section below.
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