This month we are looking at some of our favorite “Supportive Women.” Today we are taking a closer look at the career of Linda Evans.
Born Linda Evenstad in 1942 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the middle child of three sisters. Both her parents were professional dancers. When she was six months old, the family moved to North Hollywood. Linda graduated from Hollywood High School with Stefanie Powers, who we will be talking about next week. Like Morgan Fairchild, who we will be discussing in two weeks, Linda took drama classes to help her deal with shyness.
Linda was engaged to Patrick Curtis, but they never married. He later became a press agent and married Raquel Welch.
Linda’s first two roles were on two of my favorite sitcoms. In 1960, she guest starred on Bachelor Father where Bentley Greg (John Forsythe) raised his niece Kelly (Noreen Corcoran) with the help of his houseboy Peter (Sammee Tong). Her second appearance was on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. During the sixties, she would appear on a variety of shows including Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, and My Favorite Martian.
Her first made-for-tv movie was 1962’s Buttons with Beaus, and her first big screen feature came a year later in Twilight of Honor; her second movie was Beach Blanket Bingo in 1965 where she played Sugar Kane.
It was in 1965 that Evans began dating film director John Derek. They would marry in 1968 and separate in 1973 when Linda learned he was dating the actress who became known as Bo Derek.
1965 was also the year she was offered her first role as a regular cast member of a series. She became Audra Barkley from 1965-1969 on The Big Valley. The western was very popular. Similar to Bonanza, in this show, Victoria Barkley managed to raise her family and keep the villains at bay.
She and Barbara Stanwyck, who played her mother Victoria on the show, became very close. Stanwyck continued to refer to her as Audra after the show ended. Linda says Barbara was a great mentor and friend to her.
In 1967 when Derek was filming Evel Knievel’s famous motorcycle jump over the fountains at Caesar’s Place in Las Vegas, he asked Linda to take over one of the cameras, and she shot the famous footage of Knievel’s devastating crash.
During the 1970s she kept busy with television appearances on dramas including McCloud, Banacek, Harry O, McMillan and Wife, and The Rockford Files.
In 1975, she married Stan Herman, a real estate tycoon. They were married four years before splitting up. She never married again.
From 1976-1977 she again accepted a role as a regular on the show Hunter. The series only lasted fourteen episodes before being canceled. Not to be confused with the show from the 1980s, in this one, US government special agents James Hunter (Tony Franciscus) and Marty Shaw (Evans) take on missions around the world. He posed as a bookstore owner, and her cover was a model. I admit I have never seen this show, but it sounds like a seventies version of I Spy.
During the 1980s, her career was split between two primary shows: The Love Boat and Dynasty. Dynasty was on the air from 1981-1989. When Dallas became extremely popular, ABC commissioned Aaron Spelling to come up with a primetime soap opera of its own. Evans was back on the air working with John Forsythe again as Blake Carrington, her wealthy husband. The basic premise of the show was that it was an upper-class version of the Hatfields and the McCoys with the Carringtons and the Colbys feuding in the oil business in Denver, Colorado.
Evans and Forsythe remained close friends for the rest of his life. She said he was “so magical. This show was so serious and he was funny personally. We’d be fighting and people would be strangling each other and he made me laugh all day long, I’ll be forever grateful to him for that.” The person Linda was often strangling was Joan Collins who played Alexis Carrington Colby, Blake’s first wife.
By 1984 the show had reached number one in the rankings. Linda was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1983. She was beat out by Tyne Daly from Cagney and Lacey.
After the show was canceled, Evans stepped out of the limelight for the most part. She did film five made-for-tv movies during the 1990s and guest starred on Germany’s version of The Love Boat, Das Traumschiff, in 2020. In 2021, she was in a big-screen feature, Swan Song.
In 2011 Evans published a book, Recipes for Life: My Memories, a combination of candid memoir and inspirational cookbook. Despite her perfect figure, one of her weaknesses is pizza. On premierspeakers.com on April 10, 2018, she was quoted as saying “I love pizza so much, that if you wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me if I’d like to eat a slice, I’ll say YES. Kenny Rogers used to have it delivered to me while I was filming The Gambler.
Linda seemed to enjoy her career. She is remembered for several well-known characters in Audra Barkley and Crystal Carrington. While she has given up acting for the most part, I would not be surprised to see her back on the big screen for another part or two if it’s the right offer.
2 thoughts on “Linda Evans’ Destiny was Working with John Forsythe”
I could see how acting would help you with shyness. Transforming yourself into/pretending you’re a different person has probably helped people deal with many things in the past. She sounds like she stayed busy and I don’t blame her for loving pizza!
Yes, says the person who literally changes his persona every week for a comment. I’ve never thought of you as particularly shy, . . but you do like pizza too.