With her tall, statuesque frame, glowing blonde hair, and dazzling smile, Susan Anton brought glamour and charisma to any part she played. Hits like Cannonball Run 2, The Girl Who Saved the World and The Love Boat cemented her status as a fan favorite and minor icon of the era.
With a career spanning television, film, theater, and music, Anton’s multifaceted talent has left an indelible mark on pop culture.
Background Information and Early Career
Susan Ellen Anton was born on October 12, 1950, in Yucaipa, California, where she was raised on an apple ranch and attended a one-room schoolhouse.
Her entry into show business started with a dare from a high school boyfriend to enter a local beauty pageant. Despite her initial reluctance, she won and went on to become Miss California and the second runner-up to Miss America. This success led to appearances on “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Tonight Show,” and she eventually signed a production deal with Fred Silverman.
In 1978, ABC cast her alongside country singer Mel Tillis in a variety series called “Mel and Susan Together,” which was short-lived but increased her profile. Despite the failure of her variety shows, Susan continued to find success in modeling, acting, and singing, including a Top 10 duet with country singer Fred Knoblock.
Susan Anton first appeared on television in small roles in the mid-1970s, including parts in series like Police Story, Hunter, and Switch.
In 1979 when she starred as the title character in the TV movie The Girl Who Saved the World. That same year, she began playing Susan Williams on the action series The Secret Empire.
She continued finding lead roles in TV movies like Goldengirl in 1979. In the early 1980s, Anton landed recurring parts on shows like Wizards and The Love Boat.
Some of her most notable TV movie roles during this period include playing the title character in Stop Susan Williams in 1979 and Stevie Castle in Spring Fever in 1982.
Cannonball Run II
Susan Anton’s breakout role came in 1984 when she starred in Cannonball Run II
The 1984 action-comedy film directed by Hal Needham, serving as a sequel to the 1981 film “The Cannonball Run.” Like its predecessor, the film revolves around an illegal cross-country car race where various competitors engage in wild antics and humorous escapades.
The sequel retains many of the original cast members, including Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, and Dean Martin, and adds new faces like Shirley MacLaine, Telly Savalas, Catherine Bach and Susan Anton.
Susan Anton plays Jill Rivers, one half of a duo known as the “Lamborghini Babes.” Along with Catherine Bach, who plays Marcie Thatcher, they drive a white Lamborghini and use their charm and beauty to distract and evade the police throughout the race. Their characters provide comic relief and are known for their flirtatious interactions with law enforcement officers.
What Did She Do After Cannonball Run?
After her appearance in “Cannonball Run II” in 1984, Susan Anton’s career continued to flourish, mainly in television. She made guest appearances in a wide variety of TV series, showcasing her versatility as an actress. In 1987, she appeared in TV shows like “Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge,” “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “Hotel,” and “Mr. Belvedere.” She also had an uncredited role in the film “Making Mr. Right” and starred in the TV movie “Hardesty House.”
Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, Anton continued to be a familiar face on television, with roles in popular shows like “Murder, She Wrote,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Quantum Leap,” “Night Court,” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” Her appearances ranged from one-time guest spots to recurring roles, such as her character Sandy Martin in “Out of This World” and Cassie Strait in “Civil Wars.” Her ability to adapt to various genres, from drama and comedy to mystery and science fiction, kept her in demand and cemented her place in the entertainment industry.
In 1992 Susan Anton appeared on the popular television series “Baywatch” during its third season. She appeared as a recurring character during Seasons 3, 4, and 5 of the show.
Jackie Quinn is depicted as Summer’s mother, who often provides her daughter with advice. She is also a part-time singer and the owner of a restaurant called Jackie’s Summer Place. Jackie is characterized as a kind and caring woman with a bubbly personality, and she is good friends with Mitch and the rest of the lifeguard team. After Susan Anton left the show, her character’s restaurant was taken over and renamed the Sandy Cay Cafe.
What Is Susan Anton Doing Now?
Nowadays, Susan has been working behind the scenes with her husband through their production company, Big Picture Studios. However, after being absent from acting for many years, Susan Anton returned to on-screen work in 2016 with a small role in the TV movie Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. She followed this up with parts in the TV series Painter in 2020 and Aunt Cissy that same year.
Susan Anton’s current project, “Idol Chat,” is a nostalgia talk show airing on Retro TV. Hosted by Anton, the show reunites iconic casts from film, television, and the recording industry, some of whom haven’t seen each other in years.
Filmed at the famous Hollywood Museum, the show has completed eight episodes, featuring well-known actors and casts from shows like “Knots Landing,” “Love Boat,” and “Happy Days.”
The premise of the show is twofold: to bring back nostalgia and to allow cast members to reconnect, sharing their joy, memories, and stories with the audience. It’s a celebration of cultural history and the connections that have shaped entertainment over the years.