Little did everyone know at the time, but when Loni Anderson entered Hollywood in the 1970’s, she would change everything. Her charms and unique appearance would land her on some of the era’s most acclaimed programs. Eventually, she landed a starring role a program of her own and that show was called WKRP in Cincinnati. Soon the world would know Loni Anderson and she’d even get bigger in the 1980’s when she married Burt Reynolds, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. That said, there is so much to her career and life. Today we will crack the Loni Anderson story.
Married Right Out Of High School
Loni didn’t wait long to tie the know. right out of high school Loni married a real estate broker named Bruce Hasselberg. Bruce was completely bonkers for the 18-year-old Loni. He didn’t wait long to propose to her, in fact, he did so on their first date. Right after getting married, they had Deidra, their first daughter. When their relationship first bloomed, things so hopeful.
A Single Mother In College
Their marriage only lasted two years before the two went their separate ways. The failure was probably due to the fact that the marriage was initially rushed. Loni found herself in the difficult situation of both being a single mom and a college student at the University of Minnesota. The former beauty queen also had to get a job as a teacher to support her daughter.
Finding Her Love For Acting
It was while she was going through this rough period that a love for acting sparked with her. Loni did what every aspiring actor does. She began to audition for commercials and for theater productions. Loni got some beginners luck and within a few months of trying out, she’d begin acting amongst legends.
The years was 1966 and Loni felt she had broken into the big time and was finally out of her little town. She was in a western called Nevada Smith and was acting alongside acting legends like Karl Malden and Steve McQueen. Although her part was only that of a saloon girl, she was confident that it could only mean bigger things to come. She couldn’t be more wrong and would end up waiting almost ten years for her next big role.
Picking Herself Back Up
For Loni, it was a huge let down for her to have got back to unpaid theater productions in her small Minnesota town, especially after having brushed shoulders with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. That said, acting was never a career path that offered job stability and Loni knew that. When all was said and done, an actor had to act for the love of the art and not for the paychecks.
Ruling The Theater
Acting in small-town productions meant that Loni was really in it for the love of acting. For ten years she’d show up in a number of productions. Amongst the many were Born Yesterday, Tzeitel, Send Me No Flowers, The Threepenny Opera, Can-Can, The Star-Spangled Girl and The Fiddler On The Roof. This was her slow expressway to stardom.
Loni’s Second Chance At Love
Her fate to be a Hollywood star came on the back of Ross Bickell. He was also an actor and had big dreams of taking off and going to Hollywood. Being immediately taken by Loni’s charms, he used his ambitions to go to Hollywood as a way of winning her over. In 1975 the two got married and immediately left the cold mountain of Minnesota behind in exchange for Hollywood.
From Brunette To Blonde
Id she wanted to strike success in Hollywood, she’d need to change things up a bit. This meant that she’d dye her naturally jet black hair blonde and pick up some more glamorous fashions. It was only in the year 1975 that Loni became the Loni we’d all know and love for years to come. One day she walked into a hair salon and walked out as Hollywood’s next blonde bombshell.
Finding Hollywood Success
It was the 1970’s and blondes were everything in Hollywood. The minute casting crews saw this blonde beauty, they knew they wanted to put her on TV. Loni immediately garnered a bunch of roles. You could have spotted her on S.W.A.T., Three’s Company and Police Woman. It was these early roles that would lead to her having her own show
WKRP in Cincinnati
It was 1978 and WKRP in Cincinnati was about to take the world by storm. Loni just happened to get the role of Jennifer Marlowe and her name was about to shoot to stardom. Sadly, Bickell was surpassed by his wife. He was at home still living life as a starving artist and awaiting that breakthrough role. He began feeling like he was just Loni’s shadow. He fell into a deep depression that would get worse with every failed audition. In 1981, Bickell gave up his dream and headed back to Minnesota.
Gary And Loni
Loni felt good about her divorce. For months she had been having feelings for Gary Sandy, her WKRP in Cincinnati costar. With Bickell out of the picture, Gary and Loni were able to have the explosive affair they had been waiting. The couple would be together anywhere and everywhere. Sadly, when the show ended, so did their romance.
In Steps Mr. Reynolds
Once the show ended, Loni, the hottest female star in Hollywood was a free agent and her career could go in any direction. The role she’d hook would be in a movie opposite of Hollywood’s heartthrob, Burt Reynolds. The was was 1983’s Stroker Ace and it was one of Reynolds’ first big flops. He claimed that it was the movie that killed his career, but it was worth it because he met Loni Anderson. That 1983 movie was the beginning of a huge affair.
Loni Falling For The Reynolds Charm
He wasn’t the first one to approach her for a date. According to Anderson, Reynolds had his people reach out to her. They convinced her to spend New Year’s Eve with him. It turned out to be one of the most romantic nights in all her life. He followed up the night by sending her flowers and gifts for no reason. This would be the opening to one of her longest and most intense relationships.
Loni Holding Onto The Spotlight
As a method of staying in the public eye, Loni kept her appearances constant. it was during this time that she found out that nobody was really interested in her acting abilities, but only in her looks. She noticed this when she began getting fewer and fewer roles. She acted in low budget TV movies but nothing more. During interviews, they’d treat her like a Hollywood bombshell and nothing more.
The Celebrity Wedding Of A Lifetime
As time slipped by, the relationship between Reynolds and Loni would get more and more heated. In 1988, the pair decided to get married. Things started out perfected. Their outdoor was something out of every young girl’s fantasy. There were a ton of celebrity guest, a helicopter entrance and it was all set to a beautiful backdrop. After the wedding, the two adopted Quinton, their son.
A Turn For The Worse
Loni and Burt were soon the world’s favorite celebrity couple. That said, there was a little bit of trouble in paradise that nobody knew about. Burt Reynolds was known for having some personal issues that had originated from a jaw injury. Loni was well aware of his issues but went on with things anyway. Soon his issues would be her issues.
Ending In Divorce
Just five years after tying the knot, 1993 saw them split up. It was a hushed separation and for years nobody knew the chaos within the marriage. After so many years the two have finally opened up about their marriage and the turmoil within. Burt was the first to point fingers. He stated that she would spend thousands of dollars within a single week and would be extremely demanding.
Loni’s Relationship To Quinton
He didn’t stop with that comment. He then said that she would spend hardly any time with Quinton, their child. He has gone on record saying that the nannies would approach him as he’d come back from the studio and report to him that Loni wasn’t helping at all with the baby and that she would only act like a mother when Burt came home. This, of course, upset him.
Loni Tells Her Side Of The Story
Hearing the things that Burt was saying about her, Loni decided to strike back. According to her, he was a very unhappy man and a lot of this had to do with his personal issues. He was never a nice person to be around when they were alone in the house. When he wasn’t going through anger issues, he would shut himself up in his room for the entire day and not talk to anyone.
Two Books, Two Different Stories
In the heat of their bitter back and forths, they both released autobiographies that touched upon their failed marriage. Each marriage told two very different stories. It was as if they existed in two different realities. Reynolds story portrayed her as a girl who came into his life and ruined it. She writes a book more centered on her deep concern. After the divorce, she would not allow him to see Quinton due to his unpredictable behavior.
Picking Up The Pieces
After the fall of her third marriage, Loni swore before her fans that she would never, ever get married again. She had tried and failed three times and it was now quite apparent that this just wasn’t an area in life that she was very good at. She had lost a lot during her marriage to Reynolds, including her career. In the whole 1990’s Loni didn’t act in more than eight roles. She truly felt over the hill.
Burt Makes Things Right
The factor that kept their divorce lingering in the media for so long was Burt not wanting to part with a settlement payment. For twenty years they talking about the money and when Loni would get it. Finally, in 2014, Burt cleared his name and paid Loni the $155,000 that he was supposed to pay her. Although the drama was instantly forgotten, it gave way for a long needed recovery.
Loni Lets The Past Go
Being raised in a good family home, Loni quick to forgive her former husband and move on with her life. During an interview with ET she stated, “If it’s a messy divorce, then you need a break and you go back and you go, ‘Well there wasn’t 12 terrible years. There was just that end.’ So you go back and start thinking, ‘Oh, I remember that! Oh, we laughed so hard! Oh, that was so fun!'”
Loni’s Stance On Religon
Many wonder how Loni stayed strong and managed to keep pushing herself through all her hardships. Loni stated that it all goes back to her good upbringing. Loni was born in Minnesota, a very conservative place. To top that off, she was raised as a Luthern. While Loni doesn’t claim religion anymore, she still remains very spiritual and takes things as they come.
Loni Anderson Is Gone
As of today, the spotlights have been off of Loni for what seems like a very long time. The last major impact she had one pop culture was during her divorce proceedings back in the 1990’s. Since those days Hollywood’s “It” girl has been banished from the public eye. She has made a few guest appearances on TV shows during the 1990’s and 2000’s, but nothing more than that.
Helping Her Daughter As Much As Possible
While giving an exclusive interview on Closer, Loni talked about her daughter’s illness, “I fell apart. I mean, I didn’t want to fall apart in front of her because I knew she was struggling to just maintain herself, but it was very difficult to come to grips with.” Loni has not left her daughter’s side since news of her condition popped up. She has been with her through every doctor’s appointment and MRI scan.
Looks like 2017 saw Loni’s long-awaited comeback. It came in the form of a web series called My Sister Is So Gay. She is playing a grandmother named Francis. During an interview, Loni said, “I was never really interested in playing traditional, sensible-shoe-wearing, rocking-chair grandmas. We’re different from that stereotype, so it’s time to change the face of what grandmas look like! Frances is a fun, free spirit who’s perpetually tipsy and promiscuous. She steps over boundaries and that’s what I like about her!”
Born To Be A Star
Loni’s story began in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Loni’s mother was a model, while her father was an environmental chemist. That said, Loni had good genes from both ends. In her teenage years, Loni attended her Valentines’s Day Winter Formal and was vote Valentine Queen. That was followed by a slew of beauty pageants that she easily won. There was the Miss Roseville pageant, Miss County Style Ford pageant, Miss No Frost Eskimo pageant and the Miss Minnesota competition where she came out as one of the finalists.
The Future Of Loni Anderson
With her new series, it seemed that Loni’s life was going completely full circles. Her career started when she got a role in a major motion picture while taking care of her daughter. Now she’s back at it again. Not only did she just get on a new web series, but she is once again taking care of her daughter. She even got remarried. This time it was to a folk singer named Bob Fick. It seems like at the age of 71 Loni Anderson is getting a second shot at life.
For the most part, Loni has dedicated the last few years to taking care of her daughter. She says this is the biggest role she ever had and that nothing beats the role of being a mother. Severe multiple sclerosis has forced her daughter Deidra into an early retirement. The Anderson family was shocked when they heard the news.
Response To Burt’s Passing
Although the couple may have gone through perhaps the nastiest divorce in the history of Hollywood, they still harbored feelings for each other and this became quite evident when Burt Reynolds passed away. Through a stream of tears she said the following, “Quinton and I are extremely touched by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from friends and family throughout the world. Burt was a wonderful director and actor. He was a big part of my life for twelve years and Quinton’s father for thirty years. We will miss him and his great laugh.”