The Complete Loni Anderson Story

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Loni Anderson came to Hollywood in the 1970’s with a determination to become a star and she did just that. With little help, Loni got a slew of guest appearances on some of the era’s biggest shows and eventually even managed to star in a show of her own. Anyone who was alive in the 1970’s and 1980’s will quickly associate the star with WKRP in Cincinnati. It was in the 1980’s that she also became a media sensation when she married Burt Reynolds, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. That said, her life and career aren’t as straightforward as one may think. Today we are going to give you the complete Loni Anderson story.

Married Right Out Of High School

Bruce Hasselberg, Loni’s first husband was a real estate broker upon marrying her. He was so completely taken by the 18-year-old Anderson that he proposed to her on their first date. Upon getting married they immediately had a daughter named Deidra. Things seemed hopeful for the couple when it started out, but it didn’t take long for things to turn sour.

A Single Mother In College

Their rushed marriage ended up being a failure. Only after two years Loni and Bruce split up and Loni began facing life as a single mother. Simultaneously, Loni was also attending the University of Minnesota as an art student. Life proved to be no walk in the park and the former beauty queen had to take up work as a teacher to support her daughter and education.

Finding Her Love For Acting

It was amidst these hard times that an interest for acting sparked within Loni. Naturally, she followed in the steps of most actors and began auditioning for commercials and acting in a slew of local theater productions. It was at this point that Loni jumped ten steps ahead of her fellow actors and fell into some beginners luck.

Nevada Smith

In 1966, just as Loni was getting into the world of acting, she got picked up for a bit role as a saloon girl in Nevada Smith, a western starring Hollywood legends Steve McQueen and Karl Malden. She thought getting such a part would lead to mounds of Hollywood success throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Sadly, she couldn’t have been more wrong and would have to wait almost ten years before her next paying role.

 

Picking Herself Back Up

For Loni, it was a huge let down to have to return to unpaid theater productions in Minnesota after having brushed shoulders with the stars. However, most actors know that the field doesn’t exactly sport the reputation of job stability. At the end of the day, an actor has to be driven by not money, but a love for performing.

 

Ruling The Theater

Loni was obviously in it for the feeling one gets while performing in front of an audience. She popped up productions like Born Yesterday, Tzeitel, Send Me No Flowers, The Threepenny Opera, Can-Can, The Star-Spangled Girl and The Fiddler On The Roof. It was during these years in the struggle that love would suddenly spark and put Loni the slow path to stardom.

Loni’s Second Chance At Love

While garnering theater stardom in Minnesota, Loni met Ross Bickell. Like most men, he was taken immediately by her charms and good appearance. In an attempt to win Loni over, Bickell promised her Hollywood. In 1975 the pair eventually tied the knot and waved goodbye to the cold mountains of Minnesota and would never return. Loni was going completely Hollywood.

From Brunette To Blonde

It was time she hung up her jet black hair and the fashions that made her beloved in Minnesota. If Loni was going to make it in Hollywood, she would need to reinvent herself and take on a whole new look. It was 1975 that Loni became the Loni we all know and love today. She walked into a hair salon with black hair and came out a blonde. Loni was an undiscovered bombshell waiting for Hollywood to pick her up.

Finding Hollywood Success

Blondes, especially in those days had a profound effect on people. in this case, we are talking about people in charge of casting shows. Loni’s new look garnered her a number of roles. She scored minor roles on classic shows like S.W.A.T., Three’s Company, and Police Woman. These roles would all lead to the part that would launch her into stardom.

WKRP in Cincinnati

In 1978 she began portraying Jennifer Marlowe in WKRP in Cincinnati. She quickly skyrocketed to success all while Bickell continued to live as a starving artist hopping from audition to audition. The world adored Loni and he was seen as only her silent shadow. Depression suddenly came over him and with every failed audition it thickened. His love for acting dwindled and he soon turned to substance as a way to hide his woes. In 1981 he and Loni divorced and he headed back to Minnesota.

Gary And Loni

The divorce was a breath of fresh air for Loni, as for months she been struggling with feelings for Gary Sandy, her WKRP in Cincinnati costar. Once Bickell left for Minnesota, the two stars began an explosive affair. It didn’t matter where they were the pair couldn’t get enough being together. That said, when the show ended in 1982, so did their romance.

In Steps Mr. Reynolds

It was shortly after this time that Burt Reynolds stepped onto the scene. In the 1970’s and 1980’s Burt Reynolds was every girl’s dream. He was the Hollywood heartthrob of that era. In 1983 he starred in Stroker Ace, one of his first major flops and ultimate a low turning point in his career. That said, it wasn’t an all around lose. He got Loni Anderson to star opposite of him and the two instantaneously fell into a deep love affair.

 

Loni Falling For The Reynolds Charm

According to Loni he got his people to reach out to her and they pretty much convinced her to spend New Year’s Eve with him. She describes it as one of the most romantic nights of her life. It was followed up by him sending her flowers and gifts for no reason. This would be the start of her longest and most dramatic relationship to date.

 

Loni Holding Onto The Spotlight

Loni Anderson kept her appearances constant as a way of keeping in the public eye. That said, she soon found out that is wasn’t her acting abilities that everyone was interested in, but only her appearance. She’d appear in TV movies and guest spots on television, but her career as an actress seemed to be held back. Even the media portrayed her as little more than a bombshell fantasy.

 

The Celebrity Wedding Of A Lifetime

Her relationship with Burt Reynolds got more and more heated and finally, in 1988 the pair exchanged vows. The marriage started out like anyone’s perfect romantic fantasy. The outdoor wedding had dozens upon dozen of celebrity guest, helicopter entrances and was set a beautiful backdrop. After the wedding, the two adopted a child together and named him Quinton.

A Turn For The Worse

They became Hollywood’s favorite couple. Sadly, things began to take a turn for the absolute worse. Burt Reynolds was well known for having some personal issues, a problem he says stemmed from a jaw injury. Loni knew this when they became an item but decided to keep things going on despite it. This, of course, would end up catching up to both of them.

Ending In Divorce

In 1993, just five years after becoming Hollywood’s favorite couple, Loni and Burt split up. For years nobody knew why and when they both opened up about their marriage problem it appeared they were living in alternate dimensions. Burt initially opened up how she was a little too demanding and would open spend thousands in the space of a week.

Loni’s Relationship To Quinton

Burt Reynolds also went on to talk about how Loni didn’t spend much time with the baby Quinton. According to Burt, the nannies would approach him when he got back from the acting studios and would complain that Loni wasn’t helping them take care of Quinton and would only start acting motherly once Burt came home.

Loni Tells Her Side Of The Story

Loni struck back with her own side of the story. According to her his issues ended up resulting in a man who was very unhappy. According to her, he wasn’t exactly the nicest person to be around when he was home. . When he wasn’t going through a personal anger issue, he’d apparently shut himself up in their bedroom and lay in the dark for days.

 

Two Books, Two Different Stories

The two both released autobiographies and both touch on the marriage. These books tell two stories that couldn’t be any more different from each other. While Reynolds wrote about a woman who came into his life and ruined it, she writes a story of deep concern. After the divorce, she would not let Burt see Quinton unless Nannies were present. She just didn’t trust his behavior.

 

Picking Up The Pieces

In the years after the divorce, with three bad marriages behind her, Loni stated that she would never get married again. It had become quite clear to here that marriage just wasn’t her area of expertise.  She lost a lot in her marriage to Burt, and it seemed ever her career was on the fritz. In the entirety of the 1990’s, she didn’t act in more than eight roles. She truly felt her career had gone over the hill.

Burt Makes Things Right

Worst of all, there was a chunk from the settlement that Burt refused to part with. This spread out Hollywood’s nastiest divorce story for twenty years. It wasn’t until 2014 that Burt cleared his name and paid Loni the $155,000 that he owed her. Although this won’t erase all of the bad memories from the rocky relationship, it does put the two on a path of recovery and a legit separation.

Loni Lets The Past Go

Despite the two speaking badly about each other in the past, as of 2018 the past drama seems to be water under the bridge at last. Loni has been quoted by ET saying,”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

Some have to wonder how Loni kept strong and continues to stay strong as life continuously pours ordeals upon her. She credits her strength to her good upbringing. Growing up in a conservative place Minnesota, Loni was raised as a Luthern and although she doesn’t exactly claim Christianity as her strength today, she says that she is a very spiritual person and just takes things as they come.

Loni Anderson Is Gone

Loni has been out of the Hollywood spotlight for years. Seems her last major impact was in the 1990’s during her divorce proceedings. In the time since Hollywood’s former “it” girl seems to have vanished into obscurity. She has made on off appearances in a few shows throughout the late 1990’s and 2000’s, but for the most part, she is gone.

Helping Her Daughter As Much As Possible

During an interview with Closer, Anderson talked about her first response to the news, “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 been there every step of the way for her daughter. When she can’t sleep, when she can’t eat and when she couldn’t even stand, Loni was there to help. She has been with her daughter to every single one of her MRI scans.

2017 Comeback

In 2017 Loni returned to television in the series called My Sister Is So Gay. She’ll be playing a grandmother named Francis. She explained in an interview why she liked the role, “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

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota to a mother that was a model and a father that was an environmental chemist, Loni was practically born beautiful. As a teen, she was voted as Valentine Queen at her Valentine’s Day Winter Formal. Then came the beauty pageants that she won with ease. Amongst the many 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

Seems that Loni Anderson’s life has come full circle in the years that have gone by. She started out her career taking care of her daughter and getting a role in a major motion picture. Over fifty years later and she is again taking care of daughter and scoring a role on a new show. She has recently gotten married to folk singer Bob Fick. This is Loni’s second chance and greatness and at the age of 71, we have to wonder what is next for this bombshell’s career.

Daughter’s Diagnosis

Today she has dedicated most of her time to taking care of her daughter in the most important role she has ever had, the role of mother. Her daughter Deidra had to retire early and go on permanent disability due to her struggles with severe multiple sclerosis. When she was diagnosed in 2009, the whole Anderson family was shocked.

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