‘Smoking Bimbos’

12.31.13

Detroit’s Real-Life Ron Burgundy

Before there was ‘Anchorman,’ there was Bill Bonds, who blazed up the airwaves in the Motor City’s ABC affiliate for nearly 30 years. WATCH VIDEO of his most captivating moments.

Charming, profane, alcoholic television anchorman becomes local hero and changes the news business. That’s the plot of the Anchorman franchise, but it’s also the real-life story of Detroit’s Bill Bonds, who made Ron Burgundy look like a pussycat.

The star of Detroit’s ABC affiliate from the late 1960s to the mid-’90s, Bonds challenged Mayor Coleman Young to a boxing match, made Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) storm out of an interview, and asked then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton: “Are there are any more smoking bimbos in your closet?”

That type of “straight talk” is commonplace today, but Bonds was one of the first anchors to adopt the persona of truth-telling regular Joe. ABC moved him, and his style, briefly to Los Angeles and New York before returning him to Detroit.

Here are a few of his most captivating moments, one of which was captured off the air, when he exploded at his crew:

Video screenshot

The people loved him for that attitude:

Video screenshot

But Bonds was no airhead who could only read from a TelePrompTer. The night John Lennon was killed, Bonds delivered a poetic, impassioned editorial against guns:

Video screenshot

Briefly suspended from his job for a drunk driving charge in 1994, Bonds retired in the late ’90s but then came roaring back in a locally infamous ad for a furniture store after 9/11:

“They think they know how to kill and fight a war. But the Americans are coming, bin Laden. They’re coming hard and relentlessly…You’ve just bought yourself a one-way ticket to hell.”

Back to you, Ron.