“If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s you can never go back.” Stephanie Zimbalist
For TV viewers of the 1980s, Stephanie Zimbalist was famous as private detective Laura Holt in the series “Remington Steele” (1982-1987), where she costarred opposite Pierce Brosnan. Zimbalist was also seen in The Awakening (1980, earned a Saturn nomination for her role of Margaret Corbeck), the TV drama Caroline (1990, had the Golden Globe-nominated title role) and “Crossing Jordan” (2003, as Mrs. Sullivan).
The actress was more frequently seen on stage, where she won a Robby Award for her celebrated performance in “The Rainmaker” (2001). The three-time performer in Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festivals also presented show-stealing performances in such productions as “The Cherry Orchard” (1982), “My One and Only” (1987), “The Baby Dance” (1991), “Sylvia” (1996) and the revival of “Wonderful Town” (1998).
Zimbalist is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors, and Stage Managers in the Unites States. The actress, who in her childhood was a diver who worked with Olympic coach Alan Pinson, is also an honorary member of the Stuntwomen’s Association.
A Family of Performers
Childhood and Family:
Stephanie Zimbalist was born on October 8, 1956, in New York City to actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Stephanie Spaulding. She is the granddaughter of violinist/composer Efrem Zimbalist and top soprano singer Alma Gluck. She has a half-brother named Efrem Zimbalist III (publisher) and a half-sister named Nancy Zimbalist, from her father’s marriage to Emily McNair. Her late aunt, Marcia Davenport, was an acclaimed author.
Stephanie, who was raised on the family’s ranch in Encino, California, attended prestigious schools and joined Brown Ledge Camp (theatre camp) before eventually studying drama at Juilliard. Developing her fondness toward acting, she continued her education at the Banff Center of Fine Arts in Canada and had three years of voice lessons with Natalie Bodanya.
In 1977, Stephanie Zimbalist launched her professional acting career with the supporting role of Ann Talbot in the TV drama Yesterday’s Child and a guest performance as a ballerina in the family drama series “Family.” She later went to the silver screen in the family movie The Magic of Lassie (1978, as Kelly Mitchell) and was seen in the fact-based TV drama The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal (1979, as Connie). 1979 also saw the actress on stage with a role in the musical “Festival.”
Delivering a fine turn as Margaret Corbeck in the horror thriller The Awakening (1980), Zimbalist was nominated for a Saturn for Best Supporting Actress. After acting opposite Don Johnson in the TV drama Elvis and the Beauty Queen (1981, starred as Linda Thompson), the actress immediately gained public attention as Laura Holt, a private investigator partnering with an ex-thief, in the popular romantic mystery series “Remington Steele” (1982-1987), opposite Pierce Brosnan. Later, Zimbalist also wrote the story and the screenplay for the “Steele in the Chips” episode of the detective series.
Also in 1982, she offered a solid turn as Varya in the production of “The Cherry Orchard.” After carrying out the part of Debra Bishop in the TV drama A Letter to Three Wives (1985), the actress reprised her role of Laura Holt in the TV movie version of Remington Steele’s story, Remington Steele: The Steele That Wouldn’t Die (1987). The same year, Zimbalist also went on tour as a cast member of the musical play “My One and Only.”
Her next performance was Anne Beddingfield in an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel The Man in the Brown Suit (1989, TV). She was then seen in the title role of a mysterious stranger in the drama Caroline (1990, TV), which soon earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. As a multitalented actress, Zimbalist amazed off-Broadway audiences with her co-starring role in “The Baby Dance” (1991), as well as small screen viewers by taking part in numerous TV films, such as the detective film The Killing Mind (1991), Sexual Advances (1992, appeared as Paula Pratt), Jericho Fever (1993, starred as Bonnie Whitney), the mystery thriller Voices from Within (1994), George Miller’s adventure film The Great Elephant Escape (1995), Stop the World, I Want to Get Off (1996, had the multiple roles of Evie/Anya/Ara/Ginnie) and Prison of Secrets (1997, played Lynn Schaffer).
Meanwhile, the performer returned to stage by playing Polly Peacham in “The Threepenny Opera” (1992) and took on the double roles of an Irish peasant and a New Bedford fisherman’s wife in the self-produced “The Crimson Thread” (1994). She next detoured to the comedy genre with a role in “Ad Wars” (1995) before having the titular role in “Sylvia” (1996). Two years later, she costarred with Lucie Arnaz in the L.A. revival of the musical “Wonderful Town” (1998).
Amid her guest appearances in TV series like “Diagnosis Murder” (1999), “Family Law” (2000, played Elizabeth Lane), the Pamela Anderson-starring “V.I.P.” (2001) and “Crossing Jordan” (2003, as Mrs. Sullivan), Zimbalist was critically applauded for her role in the play “The Rainmaker” (2001) and won a Robby award for Best Actress in a Drama. The versatile actress, who took part in three Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival events (2000, 2001, 2002), was also seen with a role in the play “Defying Gravity” (2003). She then played Ursula in Nicholas Wright’s production of “Vincent in Brixton” (2004) before taking the leading turn of Meredith in the straight-to-video movie Truth (2005).