Rhonda Shear. Photo courtesy of Jeff Abraham

A Peek Into the Wild Career of Rhonda Shear


People may remember Rhonda Shear from “USA Up All Night,” a cult-classic show she hosted. Or they may have seen her modeling in Playboy, guest starring in various TV shows and movies or selling her line of lingerie on the Home Shopping Network.

Now, Shear has written a book documenting her wild ride of a career. “Up All Night: From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons From an Accidental Feminist” details Shear’s journey from beauty pageant contestant to owner of a global enterprise, revealing her
life’s ups and downs. On Feb. 11, Shear will sign her book at Barnes & Noble at
the Grove.

“I had this wonderfully eclectic life that has led me in many directions,” Shear said. “I was always told I was too this or too that, or not to do this or to do that. I wanted to share with everyone that not only will you hear ‘no,’ but you can still persevere and get ahead.”

Shear, a New Orleans native, was raised in a Reform Jewish household. Although she said she was never bat mitzvahed, she did go to Sunday school and had a confirmation. Then, when she was in her teens, she started to enter beauty pageants. “I became Jewish Miss Louisiana. I wanted to get experience so I could do future things like acting,” she said.

At 22, Shear was accepted to law school but decided to come to Los Angeles instead. She enrolled in acting classes and landed roles in “Spaceballs,” “Happy Days,” “Dallas” and “Married … With Children.”

In “Up All Night,” Shear, 63, writes about the sexual harassment she encountered in Hollywood. Once, she was asked to meet a producer from Universal at his home in Palm Springs.

Another producer called her parents and said if she slept with him, he’d help her become a star, Shear said. “He got me one audition for a soap opera and threatened me, saying, ‘I’m never getting you another audition if you don’t sleep with me. I’ll blackball you.’ I believed him.”

At that age, Shear said, “You’re scared. This is your career and your dreams and one person is telling you, ‘If you don’t sleep with me, I’m going to take away all your education and training and everything you’ve ever wanted.’ I hope there is more awareness of that.”

At 22, Shear was accepted to law school but decided to come to Los Angeles instead.

Eventually, in 1990, Shear got a steady gig hosting “USA Up All Night,” a comedy and variety program on the USA network. It ran from 1989 to 1998 and aired from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“To keep the attention of people watching at the time, I made the character very sexy and over the top,” said Shear, who made many of the outfits she wore on the show.

A few years after the show ended, she came up with the idea for the Ahh Bra, a wire-free, seamless pullover bra. She marketed it on HSN and to date has sold more than 35 million units worldwide.

Although Shear still takes acting roles, she auditions from her home in Florida, where she lives with her husband of 17 years, Van Fagan. The two were childhood sweethearts, and reconnected when Fagan reached out to Shear through Classmates.com in 2000.

Although she was in a long-term relationship with a comedian, she agreed to meet with Fagan. They instantly fell in love again and got married 15 days later. “I never dreamed that after dating producers and Hollywood types that I’d end up with the boy from down the block,” Shear said. “He is perfect.”

Together, Shear and Fagan have five dogs, and she is stepmom to his children, who are 33 and 31.

To promote “Up All Night,” Shear is doing stand-up again in cities around the country. “Even though I have this wonderful intimate brand, it’s still good to have other things on the side, too,” Shear said. “It keeps life exciting and I still have that childlike wonderment. Life is never boring.”

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