By JEFF BENZIGER
The 1970s were not only smoking hot from the disco dance floors, but because blonde bombshell Loni Anderson graced American TV sets and theaters, leading up to her role in the 1980s TV sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. She is Sirens’ first-ever look at a ’70s-’80s babe.
Now 62 and without Burt Reynolds (her third husband from 1988 to 1993), Anderson is a grandmother and a stunning one at that. She claims three failed marriages could have been avoided had she married folk singer Bob Flick earlier in life. Anderson and the founder of the band The Brothers Four dated for seven months when she was a 17-year-old model in Minnesota, but didn’t marry until May 17, 2008. She says she’s never been happier.
While Anderson was largely a TV product, she starred in a number of movies, including Vigilante Force (1976), Stroker Ace (1983), The Lonely Guy (1984), Coins in the Fountain (1990), 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998) and A Night at the Roxbury (1998). She provided a voice in the 1989 animated feature, All Dogs Go to Heaven. Anderson also played blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield in a 1980 made-for-TV movie.
She detailed in her 1994 autobiography, My Life in High Heels, that leading up to her August 5, 1946 birth, Loni’s father wanted to name her Leiloni. He began thinking of how teens might pervert the name as “Lay Loni” and decided to go with a much safer Loni Kaye. It was probably a wise move on the part of Carl K. Anderson, given how gorgeous his daughter was to become.
Born a brunette, as a young girl Anderson cried over the fact that she wasn’t a blonde because it seemed that all the heroines in storybooks were blonde. But when her father read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to her, it dawned on her that not all heroines had light-colored hair. No wonder Anderson became a huge collector of Snow White and animation art. Today a prized possession in Anderson’s collection is an original Charles Schulz drawing of Snoopy, twirling with glee and holding his chest, signed, “We love you, Loni. Charles Schulz.”
Loni originally wanted to become an animator and studied art at the University of Minnesota but dabbled in stage acting, modeling and winning beauty contests; in 1964 she was runner-up in the Miss Minnesota pageant. Loni left St. Paul, Minn., in 1975 to pursue TV acting as a career. She found that most of her roles were more serious as a brunette but fell into the comedic roles as a blonde.
For years, Anderson was tabloid magazine fodder, especially during her stormy marriage to Reynolds. She once complained that photographers “almost ran me off the road several times. There were so many chances that they took to get the right photo.”
Since WKRP, Anderson loaned her talents to sitcoms Nurses, The Mullets and as Tori Spelling’s materialistic mom in So noTORIous.
Although decades have passed, collectors and Anderson still have a mutual love affair. Loni is warm to collectors and still answers autograph requests by mail. Many autograph collectors have reported success in getting personal autographs signed by Anderson by writing her in care of Sandy Hook Productions, 20652 Lassen #98, Chatsworth, CA 91311.
Before writing, however, you may want to get your hands on one of Anderson’s famous bikini pin-up photos for her to sign. Loni not only starred as receptionist Jennifer Marlowe at the fictitious Cincinnati radio station from 1978 to 1982, but her bikini pin-ups were responsible for thousands of pinholes in the walls of boys’ bedrooms. Her pin-ups rivaled those of Farrah Fawcett.