EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THE TV ICON IS HAVING THE TIME OF HER LIFE AT HOME AND ON THE SET OF HER LATEST PROJECT
She’s having a blast with her latest project — and her grandchildren!
At 71, Loni Anderson (nearly) bares it all in her new web series My Sister Is So Gay. “What a bunch of prudes!” her character Frances sighs, throwing open her leopard-print bathrobe and exposing herself to her shocked grown children. “Frances is a fun, free spirit who’s perpetually tipsy and promiscuous,” Loni tells Closer about the thrill of playing this bawdy new character. “She steps over boundaries and that’s what I like about her!”
Loni’s also relishing the chance to shake up the current image of older women on-screen. “I was never really interested in playing traditional, sensible-shoe-wearing, rocking-chair grandmas,” the actress says. “I’m not saying traditional is boring, but I’m a grandma and the women around me are, too. We’re different from that stereotype so it’s time to change the face of what grandmas look like!”
This new project is a doubly exciting departure for Loni, who first won viewers’ hearts as the brainy and sophisticated Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati 39 years ago. “In real life, I’m sort of a Goody-Two-shoes, Sunday-schoolteacher type,” Loni says. “I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so maybe that’s why I wanted to play Frances — to indulge in those things on-screen!”
Offscreen, however, she devotes lots of time to her kids — Deidra Hoffman, 51, her daughter with first husband Bruce Hasselberg, and Quinton Reynolds, 28, her son with Burt Reynolds, 81. When Deidra was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009, Loni became her much-valued support system. “Loni knew she had to stay strong for Deidra,” Terry Ray, Loni’s friend and My Sister Is So Gay’s writer-star, tells Closer. “She was there for every MRI.”
Thankfully, Deidra is in remission now, Loni tells Closer, so her visits with her and granddaughters McKenzie, 23, and Megan, 20, are even more joyful. And Loni is incredibly proud of Quinton, a former cameraman who recently decided to start studying to become an EMT, Terry says.
Another source of fun for Loni is her blissful marriage to fourth husband Bob Flick, 78. “He’s my perfect match,” she says of Bob, whom she dated in 1963 when she was a teen and he was in the folk group Brothers Four. The two reconnected later and wed in 2008, 45 years after their first meeting. “He’s hysterically funny,” Loni raves, “and I’ve always said that being with him is better than watching TV.”
And Loni loves to laugh. “Dolly Parton once said to me, ‘You have to laugh a good old belly laugh every day because it extends your life,’ ” Loni shares.
Love and humor certainly help the actress stay young at heart, but Loni jokes that her outward timeless beauty needs to be credited to someone else. “Thank you, Mom,” she says with a laugh, “for having me put moisturizer on my face and body since the age of 10!” — Ron Kelly, with
reporting by Maggie Harbour