09/15/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
There are two versions of what happened on that moonlit September night in 1993 when Loni Anderson and her then business lawyer Geoff Brown fell in love. There's the romantic version: As Brown recalls it, the pair were walking toward his car outside Anderson's Mulholland Drive mansion when "she looked up and saw a shooting star." Brown followed her gaze. "When I looked down, we kissed. It was a very spontaneous act on her part, I think."
Then there's the more calculating version: Says Anderson, now heading up UPN's new sitcom The Mullets: "I invited him on the pretense of talking about a cosmetics deal, but I really wanted to have a social evening. I said something about a shooting star. I looked up and got really close to him. I thought he might have to kiss me. I was making my move, and he did."
It turned out to be one of the smarter moves in Anderson's star-crossed life. At 58, the buxom actress (who shot to fame in the 1978-82 sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and was in the middle of a wrenching split from third husband Burt Reynolds when she met Brown) is marking her 10th anniversary of unwedded bliss in the five-bedroom English-style L.A. manor she and the previously divorced Brown, 54, share with Quinton, 14, the son Anderson and Reynolds adopted as an infant. "We have a very deep relationship that's secure for Quinton," says Brown. Besides being a hands-on second father to the high school freshman (who sees Reynolds when he's in town and on summer vacations), "Geoff doesn't have a jealous moment," Anderson says. "That's what attracted me. I could be kissing six guys on camera and he'd say, 'Have a good time.' "
Lately she's been having a ball. As Mandi, the sexy, sassy mother of two dim-witted roofers, "I get to wear spandex and low-cut dresses and have fluffy hair," says Anderson. To her TV son Michael Weaver, 32, Anderson is a fantasy come true: "I used to have a poster of her in my locker. Everyone in my generation was hot for her." She's still pretty steamy. Her tastes, for example, run toward Manolo Blahnik heels and La Per la lingerie. But never nighties. "If you're unencumbered while you're sleeping," she explains, "you're ready for some wild sex if it comes your way."
It may come as a shock that the buff, body-conscious star (who works out with a trainer five times a week and has had two breast-reduction surgeries) is also a doting grandmother to Megan, 7, and McKenzie, 10, the kids of Deidra Hoffman, the only child from Anderson's brief first marriage to businessman Bruce Hasselberg. "We had strong ties and strong family values," says Hoffman, 38, a school district superintendent in Castella', Calif. Her daughter's emotional support helped Anderson weather her acrimonious 1993 breakup with Reynolds. So did Brown. "He added stability and love," says Hoffman.
Nowadays Anderson and Reynolds, 67, "have dinner and talk about Quinton," says a spokesman for the actor. "There's no animosity. It's a very civil, mature relationship."
"Everything else is in the past," says Anderson. She and Brown have discussed moving to Northern California someday to be closer to her grandkids. But, says Anderson, "I want to keep working forever. I think that's the best way. Especially if I can still keep kissing Geoff in the moonlight."
Michael A. Lipton
Frank Swertlow in Los Angeles