Actress Linda Evans was shot to prominence at age 23 as Audra Barkley on the popular western series “The Big Valley” (ABC, 1965-1969), opposite Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Peter Breck and Lee Majors. Over 15 years later, the blonde beauty gained even more popularity with her notable portrayal of Krystle Carrington on the long running primetime soap opera “Dynasty” (1981-1989), during which time she took home a Golden Globe Award and Emmy nomination, in addition to Soap Opera Digest Awards and People's Choice Awards. In 1991, she reprised her famous role on a reunion TV film. Evans has also acted in numerous TV films, including her last performance in the 1997 “The Stepsister” and in such big screen films as “Childish Things” (1969), which was directed by then-husband John Derek, “Mitchell” (1975), “Avalanche Express” (1979) and “Tom Horn” (1980). For her work on television, the now-retired Evans was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Evans is the owner of Linda Evans Fitness Centers, which has locations in 15 different places. In 1984, the “Dynasty” star became the spokesperson for the sugar-free beverage Crystal Light and has been a supporter of numerous commercial products, including Clairol's Ultress hair color (1989).
As for her romantic life, Evans has been married and divorced twice. She was married to actor, director, producer and photographer John Derek from 1968 to 1974 (he left her for actress Bo Derek). Her second marriage was to real estate businessman Stan Herman (1976 to 1981). Before marrying Derek, Evans was engaged to producer Patrick Curtis, but they split up in 1962 after having been together for two years. She also had a long running relationship with musician Yanni (together from 1989 to early 1998).
Childhood and Family:
Linda Evanstad, whose last name is Norwegian, was born on November 18, 1942, in Hartford, Connecticut, to professional dancers. When she was six months old, her family relocated to north Hollywood. An only child, Linda was very shy as a teenager and her principal encouraged her to take acting classes to help with her shyness. A defining moment came shortly after when she was spotted by an advertising agency director while accompanying a friend to an audition for a TV commercial, which she eventually won. Linda attended Hollywood High School with future star Stephanie Powers.
Later known by the surname Evans, Linda married actor/director John Derek (born in 1926, death in 1998) in 1968 after he divorced his second wife, actress Ursula Andress. The marriage ended in 1974. She married for a second time in 1976 to Stan Herman, a Beverly Hills realtor. They divorced in 1981. While still married to Linda, Herman had an affair with screen beauty Claudia Jennings (born in 1949, died in 1979) during the summer of 1979.
Currently, Linda lives in Lakewood, Washington.
The Big Valley
A student of Hollywood High School, Linda Evans caught the eye of an ad agency director in a classmate's audition for a Canada Dry TV commercial. She ended up landing the part and after two more commercial engagements, the pretty girl broke into acting in guest roles in such television series as the comedy “Bachelor Father” (1960), “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” (1960-1962), “The Untouchables” (1962), “The Eleventh Hour” and “The Lieutenant” (both 1963). She then changed her professional name to Evans, dyed her hair blonde and in 1963, made her feature acting debut in the small role of Alice Clinton in director Boris Sagal's “Twilight of Horror,” which was the first starring vehicle of actor Richard Chamberlain. The year also saw Evans sign on as an MGM actress, although her subsequent projects were primarily for other studios. These included the Disney family movie “Those Calloways” (1965), opposite Brian Keith and Vera Miles, and American International Pictures’ “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965), where she was cast as a kidnapped pop singer named Sugar Kane.
Following roles in episodes of “Wagon Train” and “My Favorite Martian” (both 1965), Evans secured a regular gig when she portrayed Audra Barkley on “The Big Valley,” a successful western series starring Barbara Stanwyck. Debuting in September 1965, the series proved popular with audiences and established Evans as a new star. She played the role of Stanwyck's daughter and the sister of Richard Long, Lee Majors and Peter Breck until the hit show came to an end in 1969.
While on the show, Evans became involved with the soon-to-be-husband John Derek, who was known for his taste for blondes. After their marriage, Derek strictly guided his wife's life and career and in 1969, directed Evans in an independent drama called “Childish Things,” which also starred Don Murray. Two years later, he posted Evans' photo for Playboy magazine. The marriage eventually ended in 1974 when Derek found a new love in another blonde beauty, Mary Catherine Collins (later known as Bo Derek).
In her six year marriage to Derek (1968-1974), Evans' screen performances were sporadic. Outside “Childish Things” and “The Big Valley,” she appeared in the ABC TV film “Female Artillery” (1973), starring Dennis Weaver, the pilot of ABC's “Nakia” (1974) and the action film “The Klansman” (1974), directed by Terence Young. She also appeared as a guest in four TV series, including the critically acclaimed series “McCloud” (1973). She attempted to re-launch her career in 1975 by appearing in the film “Mitchell.” The same year, she also landed a bit part in the TV film “The Big Rip-Off” and guest starred in the series “McCoy,” “McMillan & Wife” and “The Rockford Files.” She revisited the TV series realm as a regular two years later in CBS' “Hunter” (1977), but the show was canceled after eight episodes.
Evans continued to act in such films as “Nowhere to Run” (1978, TV), “Standing Tall” (1978, TV), “Avalanche Express” (1979), “Tom Horn” (1980) and “Bare Essence” (1982, TV) and played the recurring role of Jessica in the long running sitcom “The Love Boat” from 1981 to 1982. However, she did not gain stardom again until she portrayed the starring role of Krystle Carrington on the ABC primetime successful soap “Dynasty,” which ran from 1981 to 1989. As the former secretary-turned-wife of oil baron Blake Carrington (portrayed by John Forsythe), she won a Golden Globe in 1982 for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, two Soap Opera Digest awards for Outstanding Actress in a Prime Time Serial (1984, 1985), consecutive People's Choice awards for Favorite Female TV Performer (1982-1985) and a 1983 Emmy nomination.
After the demise of “Dynasty,” Evans recreated her coveted role of Krystle Carrington for a reunion TV film in 1991 called “Dynasty: The Reunion.” In addition, she starred as Jane McMillan in “She'll Take Romance” (1990), a comedy TV film helmed by Piers Haggard, and reprised her role of Kate Muldoon for “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” (1991), a sequel of 1983's “Kenny Rogers as The Gambler: The Adventure Continues.” Evans then supported Lisa Hartman and Cliff Robertson in the television movie “Dazzle” in 1995 before making her last TV movie appearance to date in 1997's “The Stepsister,” where she played Joan Curtis Shaw Canfield. Among her costars in the drama were Rena Sofer, Bridgette Wilson, Richard Joseph Paul and Donnelly Rhodes. Since then, she has busied herself with self-appearances in many TV shows, including “The Rosie O'Donnell Show,” “E! True Hollywood Story,” “Larry King Live” and “Entertainment Tonight.” She has also actively participated in pro-environmental campaigns.
People's Choice: Favorite Female TV Performer, 1986
People's Choice: Favorite Female TV Performer (tied with Joan Collins), 1985
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Actress in a Prime Time Serial, “Dynasty,” 1985
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Actress in a Prime Time Serial, “Dynasty,” 1984
People's Choice: Favorite Female TV Performer, 1984
People's Choice: Favorite Female TV Performer (tied with Loretta Swit), 1983
People's Choice: Favorite Female TV Performer in a New TV Program, 1982
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, “Dynasty,” 1982
Golden Globe: Miss Golden Globe, 1964