Blonde, beautiful Linda Evans has been a TV star since her days on "The Big Valley." Most famous for playing Krystle, the good wife, in the epic 1980s primetime soap opera “Dynasty,” she has now written a book filled with both her favorite memories and her favorite recipes. In "Recipes For Life," between “Fish Tacos with Garlic Aioli Sauce,” and “Best Ever Apple Pie,” there are anecdotes about John Derek, her handsome first husband, and John Forsyth, her debonair “Dynasty” co-star, about glorious professional moments and painful personal ones as well. Recently ThirdAge.com had the chance to talk to Linda, 69, about her life and the tasty treat of her newly published book.
TA: Your first big role was in The Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck. What was she like?
Linda: I was so lucky to have worked with Barbara Stanwyck when I was first starting my career. She was a legend, a strong, powerful woman with the heart of a pussycat. She believed in being professional and showing up on time. She taught me how to be a professional, and because of that I got jobs when I needed them later on.
TA: Piers Morgan said when he was interviewing you that he had your picture on his wall when he was growing up. You had John Derek’s picture on your wall when you were a teenager.
Linda: Yes. I saw a movie that he was in, and I told everyone I was going to marry him. Then when I was making "The Big Valley" he saw the pilot and said he wanted to photograph me. We fell in love. I never wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a wife and mother, and John -- who had been married to Ursula Andress, who’d left him -- didn’t want to be married to another actress. But they wouldn’t let me out of my contract with "The Big Valley." Of course, the way things turned out was just as well.
TA: John left you.
Linda: Yes, I was only in my twenties, and he left me for another woman, a younger woman, of course. Bo. [Derek.] I thought I would be him for ever and ever. When I realized he was in love with her, I wanted to die. But life is kind. You don’t die. Both my husbands were unfaithful. They just couldn’t give me the dream of the perfect marriage that I wanted. But if I stayed married to John my career wouldn’t have happened." Dynasty" wouldn’t have happened. So everything worked to my advantage even though things could seem so lousy at the time.
TA: You have been called one of the five most beautiful women in the world.
Linda: I was never delusional about my looks. I knew it took a team to make me look the way I did. A team can make you look great. But there was a lot of pressure, and I moved away from Hollywood in part to get some reality. All women are concerned about their looks, but we are so much more than our looks. And, yes, I have done plastic surgery and Botox, and I have nothing against anyone who wants to do this, but do it for yourself. Nowadays I am really happy with myself and who I am.
TA: You now live in Washington state, far from Hollywood. What has your life been like in recent years?
Linda: Five years ago some things happened that really rocked me. Three people I was close to almost died. I felt I couldn’t control my life, and I went into a depression. But when I came out of it, it was very freeing. I let go of a lot of baggage. I could go into things with a different attitude. I realized I wasn’t through with life. Nothing is closed off. Doors open. And they did. You see, I’m a good cook, and I really love to cook. You could chain me to a stove because I am happiest in the kitchen preparing a meal for someone who will enjoy it. Well, a couple of years ago I was invited to be on a British television show called “Hell’s Kitchen,” a very intense reality show where you cook and serve in a restaurant and chefs vote and then the public votes. I surprised everyone and myself and won. I came home feeling inspired.
TA: Inspired to write this book?
Linda: I wanted to continue to reconnect with being creative and I wanted to share my absolute favorite recipes. I also wanted to share some of the important things I have learned. You know youth has its place. It gives us lots of opportunities. But the beauty of getting older is that we don’t have to replace what we lost but rather enjoy what we have gained. We can now do anything we want. I know that now I have more to work with, more strength and much more compassion for myself. I now can more easily see the beauty in life and in people. I now realize, and I want others who aren’t young anymore to realize, that life is still a banquet!
Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of thirdage.