Linda Evans (born on November 18, 1942) is an American actress known primarily for her roles on television. In the 1960s, she first gained fame after playing Audra Barkley in the Westerntelevision series, The Big Valley (1965–1969). However she is most prominently known for the role of Krystle Carrington in the 1980s ABC prime time soap opera Dynasty, a role she played from 1981 to 1989.
Born Linda Evenstad in Hartford, Connecticut, Evans was the second of three daughters to a couple who were professional dancers. "Evenstad" was the name of the small farm in Nes, Hedmark in Norway from where her paternal great-grandmother emigrated to the US in 1884 with her young son (Evans' grandfather) and a couple of relatives.
When Evans was six months old, the family moved from Hartford to North Hollywood. To bring her out of her shyness her parents insisted that she take drama at school. When she started her professional career, she changed her last name to "Evans".
Evans has been married twice, first to actor and film producer John Derek from 1968 to 1974. Derek left Evans for Bo Derek who was 30 years his junior. Evans' second marriage was to Stan Herman, a property executive, from 1976 to 1981. In 1989, Evans began a relationship with new age musician Yanni, which lasted until 1998. She has no children.
After being diagnosed with idiopathic edema, Evans began investigating alternative healing, delving into Eastern philosophy and naturopathy. In 1985 she became involved with controversial metaphysical teacher J. Z. Knight and her Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, and eventually moved to Rainier, Washington to be closer to Knight and her school.
Evans' first guest-starring role was on a 1960 episode of Bachelor Father, which starred her future screen husband, John Forsythe. She would co-star with him twenty years later on Dynasty. After several guest roles in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet between 1960–62, and guest appearances on television series such as Wagon Train and Outlaws, Evans gained her first regular role in 1965 in The Big Valley. Playing Audra Barkley, daughter of Victoria Barkley (played by Barbara Stanwyck), Evans was credited in the series until it ended in 1969, though she was only a semi-regular castmember during the last two seasons.
On December 31, 1967, Derek recruited his wife to operate one of his cameras after he had been commissioned by daredevil Evel Knievel to film his motorcycle jump of the fountains atCaesar's Palace in Las Vegas. It was Evans who captured the iconic images of Knievel's devastating crash as the jump failed.
Throughout the 1970s, Evans continued to appear on television largely in guest roles. She appeared in a slew of detective shows such as The Rockford Files, Mannix, Harry O, Banacek,McCloud and McMillan & Wife. In 1976, she starred with James Franciscus in the espionage drama series Hunter, though the show only lasted for 13 episodes.
In 1980, Evans was cast as Krystle Carrington in Aaron Spelling's opulent new primetime soap opera, Dynasty. Intended as ABC Television's answer to the hit CBS series Dallas, the show first aired in January 1981. Although initially sluggish in the ratings, audience figures improved after the show was revamped and British actress Joan Collins was brought in to play opposite Evans and Forsythe as the evil Alexis Carrington. By the 1984-85 season, Dynasty was the number one show on American television, even outranking Dallas. Audiences became enthralled by the onscreen rivalry and infamous catfights between Krystle and Alexis, and Evans and Collins became the two of the most celebrated television stars of the decade. Evans was nominated five times for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a TV Drama series (every year from 1982 to 1986), winning in 1982 in a tie with Barbara Bel Geddes of rival soap Dallas. Evans also won five People's Choice Awards as Favorite Actress in a Drama Series in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead actress in a Drama Series in 1983.
After she left Dynasty in 1989 (only months before the series came to an end), Evans semi-retired from acting and only made occasional television appearances. Instead, she devoted her time to fitness issues and set up a small chain of fitness centers. In the 1990s, Evans hosted infomercials for Rejuvenique, a mask for toning facial muscles. She had previously written the "Linda Evans Beauty and Exercise" book in 1983.
In 1991, she returned to the role of Krystle Carrington for the television miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion. Following this, she appeared in three made-for-TV movies in the 1990s, but then retired from screen acting altogether in 1997.
In 2006, Evans reunited with her Dynasty castmates for the non-fiction reunion special Dynasty: Catfights and Caviar. She then starred in the stage play Legends opposite her former Dynastyrival Collins.
Due to her character's name on Dynasty, Evans appeared in an ad campaign for Crystal Light beverages, starting in 1984.
Evans appeared in Playboy magazine at the behest of her then-husband John Derek in 1971. As she gained tremendous fame on Dynasty, the photos were published a second time in 1982.
Evans has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.