Loni Anderson Today: What the Blonde Bombshell of the ’70s and ’80s Has Been Up To Lately

Best known for her role as receptionist Jennifer Marlowe in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, Loni Anderson is one of the ultimate small-screen icons of the late ’70s and early ’80s. More than 40 years after the show aired its final episode, Anderson remains fabulous. Now 78, she most recently starred in the playfully nostalgic Lifetime Christmas movie Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas, which is guaranteed to add some cheer to your holiday season. Here, read on to get the scoop on Loni Anderson today and see some of the highlights of her long career.

Related:‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Cast: Surprising Facts About this Hilarious Radio Show Sitcom

Loni Anderson today: A Christmas diva

Given the ongoing trend for ’80s nostalgia, it’s no surprise that Loni Anderson and some of her fellow stars of the era have recently returned to the screen. In Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas, now available to watch on Lifetime, she plays Lily Marlowe, a glamorous soap opera veteran who reunites with her former co-stars (played by fellow ’80s queens Morgan Fairchild, Nicollette Sheridan, Linda Gray and Donna Mills) to share the spotlight and shoot the final Christmas episode of their long-running daytime drama.

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Naturally, old rivalries resurface, threatening to cancel the entire production before it’s even been filmed. The movie isn’t just about diva hijinks, though — there are also sweet moments of romance and friendship, and Anderson’s signature sassy humor is on full display.

Linda Gray, Donna Mills, Loni Anderson, Nicollette Sheridan and Morgan Fairchild in Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas (2023)Courtesy of A+E Networks Press
Linda Gray, Donna Mills, Loni Anderson, Nicollette Sheridan and Morgan Fairchild in Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas (2023)Courtesy of A+E Networks Press A360

None of the diva behavior captured in the movie existed off-screen, as all the stars have spoken about what a fun time they had making the film. In a Fox News interview, Anderson called it a “beautiful gathering.”

Loni Anderson in 2023Frazer Harrison/Getty
Loni Anderson in 2023Frazer Harrison/Getty Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas is Anderson’s most high-profile project in recent years. Prior to that, she appeared in the web series My Sister Is So Gay and co-starred in the Amazon Prime pilot Love You More, which did not got picked up as a series, and the short-lived comedy shows So Notorious and The Mullets.

Loni Anderson’s rise to stardom

Like her four Ladies of the ’80s co-stars, Anderson has decades of TV experience to her name. In the ’70s, she was part of the blonde TV bombshell pantheon, along with Suzanne Somers and Farrah Fawcett.

Anderson began her acting career with appearances in shows like S.W.A.T., Police Woman, Police Story and The Bob Newhart Show. In 1978, she became a household name when she was cast in her defining role as the sexy and smart radio station receptionist Jennifer Marlowe in WKRP in Cincinnati. The popular show ran until 1982, and Anderson was nominated for multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards for her work.

Loni Anderson in a 1979 headshot for WKRP in CincinnatiCBS Photo Archive/Getty
Loni Anderson in a 1979 headshot for WKRP in CincinnatiCBS Photo Archive/Getty CBS Photo Archive Getty Images

While Anderson was considered a sex symbol, her signature character was noteworthy for playing against the “dumb blonde” stereotype. Jennifer was witty and held her own in a male-dominated world. Looking back in an interview with the Star Tribune, Anderson said, “I watched a few episodes recently and it’s still relevant. In many ways, it was way ahead of its time.” As she put it, she came up in a time when “Being pretty and funny wasn’t a thing,” and she sought to change that with her hilariously self-aware character.

Loni Anderson in The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)Bettmann/Getty
Loni Anderson in The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)Bettmann/Getty Bettmann Bettmann Archive

After WKRP in Cincinnati ended in 1982, Anderson acted in many more TV movies and starred in Partners in Crime and Easy Street, both of which lasted just one season. She never became a movie star and remained best-known for TV work, but she did act in a few films including the poorly-received 1983 action comedy Stroker Ace (opposite Burt Reynolds, who would become her third husband), the 1989 animated movie All Dogs Go to Heaven (voicing a collie named Flo) and the 1998 Saturday Night Live-based A Night at the Roxbury (playing the mom of Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan). In the ’90s, Anderson also joined the cast of Nurses and appeared in episodes of Melrose Place, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Clueless and V.I.P.

Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson in 1992Kypros/Getty
Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson in 1992Kypros/Getty Kypros Kypros via Getty Images

Loni Anderson’s personal life

Anderson often struggled to be taken seriously by her peers, telling the Star Tribune, “I didn’t like the way some people treated me, like I didn’t have a brain,” and found that her relationship with Reynolds (and their subsequent divorce in 1994) garnered more attention than much of her work. As she described, “I wanted to be a character actress that was always working and never have to deal with notoriety. Obviously, I didn’t get what I wished for.”

Loni Anderson and Bob Flick in 2023Frazer Harrison/Getty
Loni Anderson and Bob Flick in 2023Frazer Harrison/Getty Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Loni Anderson today is married to Bob Flick, a musician she first met when she was in high school. She has two children from previous marriages, and faced personal tragedy when her daughter, Deidra Hoffman, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009. She largely stepped back from acting to support her.

Loni Anderson and her daughter, Deidra Hoffman, in 2014Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty
Loni Anderson and her daughter, Deidra Hoffman, in 2014Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Gregg DeGuire WireImage

While Anderson hasn’t been acting as often as she used to, and with good reason, we’re delighted to pay tribute to her status as an ’80s icon in Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas.


For more 1970s/1980s nostalgia keep reading!

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Copyright 2023 A360 Media

This story was originally published December 24, 2023, 8:01 AM.


source: star-telegram

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