Loni Anderson: Poster Gal And 'WKRP's Sweetheart, Then And Now

By | October 13, 2017

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The poster that made Loni Anderson a star, and a later poster of her. Source: eBay

Thanks to her run as Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP In Cincinnati, Loni Anderson emerged as one of the most popular TV actresses and poster models of the late '70s and early '80s. The competition was stiff -- Farrah Fawcett, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Lynda Carter and others were competing for wall space in many a teenage boy's room. With her over-the-top blonde coiffure, flashy smile and toned figure, Anderson was a fan favorite -- and in fact, her posters jump-started her acting career when she needed a boost.

As Jennifer Marlowe, assistant to the station manager on WKRP in Cincinnati, Anderson played the sane one in what was more or less a lunatic asylum of burned-out DJs, feckless newscasters, and creepy business staff. The secret brains behind the operation, Jennifer kept the WKRP ship afloat like Radar O'Reilly did on M*A*S*H -- but, aesthetically, she was nothing like Radar O'Reilly. The male characters on the show, like much of the show's audience, all nurture poorly-concealed crushes on her, which she easily deflected. During the four years WKRP was on the air, Anderson's Jennifer Marlowe character was one of the most recognizable and charismatic on TV.

Loni Anderson Isn't A Natural Blonde

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Loni Anderson in a poster photo, and in a still from a 1980 episode of 'Fantasy Island.' Source: reddit

Loni Kaye Anderson was born on August 5, 1946 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Given her poise and beauty, it is no surprise that her mother, Maxine (Kallin) Anderson, was a model. She followed in her mother’s footsteps doing some modeling as well as entering and winning beauty pageants. 

"I started acting when I was 10, doing musical theater," she told Ability Magazine. "Since I was a brunette at that time, I was always cast in all the exotic parts. I played the Native American, the African American, the Italian. Whatever ethnic group was called for, that was me. Hard to believe, isn’t it?"

Loni was named “Valentine Queen” at the high school Valentine’s Day formal dance her senior year. After high school graduation, she went on to attend the University of Minnesota where she studied to become a teacher.