The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters luncheon honoring Loni Anderson on June 1 at Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City confirmed what so many already knew—the gorgeous and ultra-likable star of the classic TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” is always the smartest person in the room. And the PPB members heard stories from her famous friends and family about her brains, beauty, talent, sweetness and much more.
Loni’s proud educator/daughter Deidre Hoffman told everyone, “I always give my mom and Jennifer Marlowe (Loni’s WKRP character) credit for being my role models. They are both strong and funny women. But as a teenager I would hear adults and children alike say, ‘Your mom is a dumb blonde.’ I always spoke up and would say ‘She’s not even a natural blonde.’ Then point-out that they obviously didn’t watch WKRP in Cincinnati because if they did they would see that she is the smartest person in the room, and that’s just like my mom.”
Seen in the audience cheering for his mom was her son Quinton Reynolds, and Loni’s husband Bob Flick, known by music fans who enjoyed the folk singers The Brothers Four.
Also on the dais paying tribute to Loni were her gal-pals: producer-philanthropist Kate Edelman Johnson, singer-author Lorna Luft, and iconic Days of Our Lives star Deidre Hall who was so sassy she blamed it on “my Ambien.” And Emmy-winning comedy writer Bruce Vilanch joined the panel of strong women dressed as his character Edna Turnblad, who he played in the musical Hairspray. Of course, Bruce was outrageous noting he was in town “spending the entire week doing sensitivity training at Starbucks. Personally, I’m fed up with the ‘Me too’ movement and I’m starting one called ‘Why not me?’”
Kate Edelman Johnson, who is producing the wonderful Cagney the Musical that had its debut at NoHo’s El Portal Theatre last year and is headed to Broadway, had a funny story that revealed how “Loni, my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife, became my dear and treasured friend.”
Another example of the strong women on hand to fete Loni was Lorna Luft, Judy Garland’s talented and courageous daughter who has fought cancer and overcome tremendous odds. There was applause from the crowd when Lorna said, “I’m really grateful to be here. Loni and I are really good friends. We went through a lot of stuff together, marriages, my divorces, raising kids, laughter, tears, many things. Through my cancer diagnosis, Loni was there for me, and I’m honored to be here.”
Anderson takes helping people seriously and is passionate about raising COPD awareness with the National Lung Health Education Program, and she is commitment to The Race to Erase MS, Us Against Alzheimer’s and the American Cancer Society. Currently, she is the national spokesperson for Advantage Emergency Medical Response Systems. Career wise, Loni’s latest ventures include a comedy pilot, created and produced by Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) and shooting the second season of the hilarious series My Sister Is So Gay.
An entertaining video was shown highlighting Anderson’s many accomplishments in starring roles and guest appearances in TV, films and on the stage. Seeing her with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show and singing “Silver Bells” with Bob Hope on his Christmas specials were delightful moments that brought back great memories.
Loni Anderson was presented with the prestigious Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award, from outgoing PPB president Alan Perris. It was announced that deejay and radio personality “Shotgun” Tom Kelly is the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters’ incoming president when the PPB’s celebrity luncheons resume in the fall. Perris also announced an invitation for people to join the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. You qualify if you have worked in broadcasting or in any related field for 10 years or more. Call (323) 461-2121 with your request for an application to join this fun group of showbiz veterans.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.