Underrated and understated would best describe Bailey's beauty. Bailey proved that a nerdy and shy career-minded woman could also be smoking hot.

Bailey was the demur woman with the girl next door looks, a subtle complement to Loni Anderson's overt sex symbol, blonde Jennifer
Marlowe.

As a newly hired college graduate with a journalism degree (Ohio State), Bailey was delegated to the lowest position in the radio station's pecking order, and her natural beauty was originally toned down on the show. But as her character evolved and she advanced to become an on-air reporter, she appeared without her glasses more often, and her hair developed a more stylish cut.

“WKRP” creator Hugh Wilson thought Jan was perfect for the role, although she had never acted in a sitcom before. In fact, she had a short acting resume at the time.

“Other actresses read better for the part, but they were playing shy,” Wilson said. “Jan was shy.”
“I was pretty inexperienced at the time, and I guess you could call me 'shy' as well,” Jan said in an interview with Newhouse News Service four years after the show first aired. “And I wasn't sure this was the way for me to develop my career.

“Hugh assured me. 'Don't worry about it. 
The part we want you for is very much like
you right now. And as you grow into the part, become more assertive, more sure of yourself, so will Bailey develop and expand and stretch.'

"And he was right, I really didn't do that much the first season. I sorta hung around and picked up on things,” she said. “I learned both on camera and off. Gradually, Bailey has come into her own. She's grown up now on equal footing with the others, and so have I matured and found a place for myself.
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Jan lived in the comfortable LA suburb of Woodland Hills, the daughter of an attorney. She was injured in an automobile accident that left a scar on her chin. She swerved to avoid hitting another driver and crashed into a telephone pole. The impact smashed her face into the steering wheel, and the scar caused her to feel insecure about her looks.

At age 17, Jan was interviewed by Newsweek for a story about typical American teenagers, and she was photographed riding on the back of a motorcycle. That picture appeared on the March 21, 1966 cover of the magazine and the exposure led to modeling and commercial work.

Jan had little acting experience before “WKRP.” She appeared in episodes of TV shows “Starsky and Hutch” and “Love Story” in the early 1970s, and in the small budget films “When the North Wind Blows” and “Where the Lilies Bloom” in 1974.After “WKRP,” Jan guest starred in “The Love Boat,” “The Fall Guy,” and “Murder, She Wrote,” among other TV series. She met husband James Brolin on the set of “Hotel” in 1984. They divorced in 1995.

Jan retired from acting in 2004 and settled first in Halifax, Novia Scotia, then moved back to California.
“At first, it was something like a school girl crush from afar,” she said of her relationship with Johnny Fever in 1982. “But now we have our relationship on a more adult level. And it gives both of our characters an entirely new dimension to work on and develop."

Jan attributed the show's success to the ensemble cast's on- and off-screen chemistry.

"I know it sounds corny and trite, a TV cliche, but we really are a big and happy family, we really care for each other on and off the set,” she said in the interview with Newhouse. “And it shows. Above all, we have this great respect for each other.

“And Hugh remains constantly with us, keeping the episodes sharp and in sync, and as honest as they have been from the beginning.”
Classic TV Beauties
Jan Smithers "WKRP in Cincinnati" Bailey Quarters
Jan Smithers "WKRP in Cincinnati" Bailey Quarters
Jan Smithers "WKRP in Cincinnati" Bailey Quarters
“It's only a show, but it's wonderful how it mirrors my real life.”

While Jennifer was the blonde bombshell who overwhelmed the men of “WKRP” with over the top sexuality, Bailey was the Mary Ann to Jennifer's Ginger. Bailey was the kind of girl whose loveliness would sneak up on you. A guy charmed by Bailey would be surprised to learn that so many other males found her equally attractive.

In fact, many male viewers preferred Bailey's comeliness to Jennifer's sex appeal. Check out a sampling of internet bloggers singing the praises of Bailey:

“Loni may have got more hype Bailey was IT.”

“She has that elusive 'something' that makes her so appealing.”

“She's a natural beautiful woman...I could stare in her eyes forever.”

It was never clear if Bailey had love affairs with any of her WKRP co-workers, although it's hinted that she had relations with program director Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) and with DJ Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman)..
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No. 24
Classic TV Beauties 1970s Countdown
JAN SMITHERS at Bailey Quarters in "WKRP in Cincinnati"
Kate Jackson "Charlie's Angels" Sabrina Duncan
Farrah Fawcett "Charlie's Angels" Jill Munroe
Victoria Principal "Dallas" Pamela Ewing
Lynda Carter "Wonder Woman"
Loni Anderson "WKRP in Cincinnati" Jennifer Marlowe
Loretta Swit "M*A*S*H" Margaret Houlihan
Mary Tyler Moore "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" Mary Richards
Loni Anderson "WKRP in Cincinnati" Jennifer Marlowe
Tina Louise "Gilligan's Island" Ginger Grant
Erin Gray "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" Wilma Deering
Denise Nicholas "Room 222" Liz McIntyre
Valerie Bertinelli "One Day at a Time" Barbara Cooper
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