Lindsay Wagner

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This article is about the actress. For the Playboy Playmate, see Lindsay Wagner (model).
Lindsay Wagner
Wagnerlindsey2007Comicon.jpg
Wagner at Wizard World Chicago 2007
Born Lindsay Jean Wagner
(1949-06-22) June 22, 1949 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Oregon
Occupation Actress
Model
Author
Singer
Adjunct Professor[1]
Years active 1971–present
Spouse(s) Allan Rider (1971–1973)
Michael Brandon
(1976–1979)
Henry Kingi (1981–1984)
Lawrence Mortorff
(1990–1993)

Lindsay Jean Wagner (born June 22, 1949) is an American actress. She is best known for her portrayal of Jaime Sommers in the 1970s television series The Bionic Woman (for which she won an Emmy Award), though she has maintained a lengthy career in a variety of other film and television productions since.

Early life[edit]

Wagner was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Marilyn Louise (née Thrasher) and William Nowels Wagner. When she was seven years old, her parents divorced and her mother moved with her to the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock, near Pasadena. Another move with her mother and stepfather (Ted Ball), brought Wagner to Portland, Oregon, where she attended David Douglas High School and appeared in a number of school plays. Wagner was a graduate student at the University of Oregon.

Career[edit]

Wagner worked as a model in Los Angeles, and gained some television experience by appearing as a hostess in Playboy After Dark and she was also a contestant on the game show The Dating Game in 1969 (one of her potential suitors, whom she did not choose, was TV actor Roger Ewing). In 1971, she signed a contract with Universal Studios and worked as a contract player in various Universal productions. Her prime-time network television debut was in the series Adam-12, and she went on to appear in a dozen other Universal shows including Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, The F.B.I., Sarge, and Night Gallery. Between 1971–75, she appeared in five episodes of Universal's Marcus Welby, M.D., and two episodes of The Rockford Files. In 1973, Wagner branched into film roles when Universal cast her in Two People (Wagner's first feature film and first lead role). She also starred in the film The Paper Chase (for 20th Century Fox) the same year.

In 1975, arranged under an extended contract with Universal Studios, Wagner played the role of Jaime Sommers, a former tennis professional who was the childhood sweetheart of "Six Million Dollar Man" Colonel Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors). According to Kenneth Johnson, interviewed for a featurette included in the 2010 North American DVD release of The Bionic Woman season 1, Wagner was cast in the role based upon her appeal and spontaneity, after he saw her appearance in the pilot and a follow-up episode of the The Rockford Files. In the second-season two-part episode, her character is critically injured in a skydiving accident and equipped with bionic implants similar to Col. Austin's, but her body rejects them, ultimately leading to her death.

This was intended to be Wagner's last role under her Universal contract, but public response to the character was so overwhelming that the "death" was retconned into a cover story for a near-death secret recovery, and Wagner appeared in a two-part episode which returned her character, followed by a spin-off series The Bionic Woman, which debuted in January 1976. She made several crossover appearances in the The Six Million Dollar Man during the series' run. The role earned Wagner an Emmy Award for "Best Actress in a Dramatic Role" in 1977. Following the cancellation of The Bionic Woman in 1978, Wagner continued to act, predominantly in television mini-series and made-for-TV movies. These included the highly rated 1980 mini-series Scruples, as well as three made-for-TV Bionic reunion movies with Lee Majors between 1987 and 1994. Also in the 1980s, Wagner co-starred alongside Sylvester Stallone as his ex-wife in his 1981 movie Nighthawks and starred in two more weekly television series; Jessie (1984) and A Peaceable Kingdom (1989), though both of these were short-lived. In 1983, she also appeared in an episode of Lee Majors' series, The Fall Guy.

Wagner continued to act in the 1990s and 2000s, though in less prominent roles, such as a small part in the action movie Ricochet (1991). Her most recent projects have included the 2005 telemovie, Thicker than Water with Melissa Gilbert, Buckaroo: The Movie (2005), and Four Extraordinary Women (2006). In 2010, Wagner began a recurring role as Dr. Vanessa Calder in the SyFy channel's hit drama Warehouse 13, and played the character again in its Syfy sister show Alphas in 2011.

In the fall semester of 2013, she began to teach at San Bernardino Valley College in southern California (Acting and Directing for Television and Film, Motion Picture Production) as an adjunct faculty member.

Other work[edit]

wagner at comiccon.
Wagner at San Diego Comic-Con 2008.

In 1987, Wagner wrote a series of books with Robert M. Klein about using acupressure to achieve results akin to a surgical facelift. In 1994, she wrote one of the first "celebrity" vegetarian (and mainly vegan) cookbooks, High Road to Health. Wagner appeared in commercials as a spokesperson for Southern California's regional Ford Motor Company dealerships from 1987 through 2000.[2] She was also a spokesperson in infomercials for Select Comfort's "Sleep Number" bed from 2003 to 2009.

In recent years, Wagner has given seminars and workshops for her self-help therapy, "Quiet the Mind and Open the Heart," which promotes spirituality and meditation.

In 2010, she participated in interviews and featurettes included in the long-delayed North American DVD releases of The Bionic Woman and the 2011 release of The Six Million Dollar Man.

Honors[edit]

In 2012, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Prior to being married, Wagner lived with Captain Daniel M. Yoder (USAF), until he went to Vietnam. She has been married four times. From 1971 to 1973, she was married to music publisher Allan Rider. From 1976 to 1979, she was married to actor Michael Brandon. In 1981, she married stuntman Henry Kingi, whom she met on the set of The Bionic Woman. Wagner had two sons with Kingi; Dorian (b. 1982) and Alex (b. 1986), but the couple divorced in the late 1980s. Wagner then married TV producer Lawrence Mortorff in 1990, but they too divorced a couple of years later.

Dallas star Linda Gray was once married to Wagner's uncle, Ed Thrasher. Wagner and Gray also played romantic rivals in the television movie The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan (1979). Interestingly, actress Martha Scott who played Wagner's adoptive mother in The Bionic Woman also played Gray's mother on Dallas.

Wagner very nearly died in the American Airlines Flight 191 plane crash, as she and her mother were about to board but she started feeling sick and decided not to board.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1973 Two People Deirdre McCluskey
1973 Paper Chase, TheThe Paper Chase Susan Fields
1976 Second Wind Linda
1981 Nighthawks Irene
1981 High Risk Olivia
1985 Martin's Day Dr. Mennen
1991 Ricochet DA Priscilla Brimleigh
1998 Frog and Wombat Sydney Parker
2003 Light in the Forest, AA Light in the Forest Penelope Audrey
2005 Buckaroo: The Movie Ms. Ainsley
2006 Surfer King, TheThe Surfer King Connie Zirpollo
2008 Billy: The Early Years Morrow Graham
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1971 Adam-12 Jenny Carson Episode: "Million Dollar Buff"
1971 Man and the City, TheThe Man and the City Margie Holland Episode: "Disaster on Turner Street"
1971 Bold Ones: The Lawyers, TheThe Bold Ones: The Lawyers Stella Bowers Episode: "In Defense of Ellen McKay"
1971 Sarge Laurie Meyers Episode: "The Combatants"
1971 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Diana Oliver Episode: "Until Proven Innocent"
1971–1975 Marcus Welby, M.D. Various 5 episodes
1971 Rod Serling's Night Gallery Nurse Episode: "The Diary"
1972 Rod Serling's Night Gallery Girl 1 episode
1972 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury Edie Lang Episode: "Operation: XW-1"
1972 F.B.I., TheThe F.B.I. Laurie Peale Episode: "Dark Journey"
1974 Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford Files Sara Butler Episode: "Backlash of the Hunter"
1975 Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford Files Sara Butler Episode: "Aura Lee, Farewell"
1975–1976 Six Million Dollar Man, TheThe Six Million Dollar Man Jaime Sommers 10 episodes
1976 Whodunnit? Panellist Episode: "Future Imperfect"
1976–1978 Bionic Woman, TheThe Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers 58 episodes
1979 Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel, TheThe Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel Meg Laurel TV movie
1979 Two Worlds of Jennie Logan, TheThe Two Worlds of Jennie Logan Jennie Logan TV movie
1980 Scruples Billy Ikehorn TV miniseries
1981 Callie & Son Callie Bordeaux TV movie
1982 Memories Never Die Joanne Tilford TV movie
1983 I Want to Live Barbara Graham TV movie
1983 Fall Guy, TheThe Fall Guy Mary Connors Episode: "Devil's Island"
1983 Princess Daisy Francesca Valenski TV movie
1983 Two Kinds of Love Susan Farley TV movie
1984 Jessie Dr. Jessie Hayden TV movie
1984 Passions Nina Simon TV movie
1984 Jessie Dr. Jessie Hayden 10 episodes
1985 Other Lover, TheThe Other Lover Claire Fielding TV movie
1985 This Child Is Mine Bonnie Wilkerson TV movie
1986 Child's Cry Joanne Van Buren TV movie
1986 Young Again Laura Gordon TV movie
1986 Kate & Allie Julia Episode: "Late Bloomer"
1986 Convicted Martha Forbes TV movie
1987 Stranger in My Bed Beverly Slater TV movie
1987 Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, TheThe Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers TV movie
1987 Student Exchange Principal TV movie
1988 Evil in Clear River Kate McKinnon TV movie
1988 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Susan Forrester Episode: "Prism"
1988 Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story, TheThe Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story Uli Derickson TV movie
1988 Nightmare at Bittercreek Nita Daniels TV movie
1988 Scandals Host TV movie
1988 Police Story: Burnout Det. Sidney Shannon TV movie
1989 From the Dead of the Night Joanna TV movie
1989 Voice of the Heart Katharine Tempest TV movie
1989 Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers TV movie
1989 Peaceable Kingdom, AA Peaceable Kingdom Rebecca Cafferty 12 episodes
1990 Shattered Dreams Charlotte Fedders TV movie
1990 Babies Yvonne TV movie
1991 Fire in the Dark Janet TV movie
1992 She Woke Up Claudia Parr TV movie
1992 Treacherous Crossing Lindsey Thompson Gates TV movie
1992 Against All Odds Host TV series
1992 To Be the Best Paula O'Neill TV movie
1992 Message from Holly, AA Message from Holly Holly TV movie
1993 Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7 Elizabeth Hahn TV movie
1994 Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them Host TV movie
1994 Once in a Lifetime Daphne Fields TV movie
1994 Bionic Ever After? Jaime Sommers TV movie
1995 Fighting for My Daughter Kate Kerner TV movie
1996 Sins of Silence Molly McKinley TV movie
1996 Mother's Instinct, AA Mother's Instinct Raeanne Gilbaine TV movie
1997 Contagious Dr. Hannah Cole TV movie
1997 Their Second Chance Barbara TV movie
1998 Voyage of Terror Dr. Stephanie Tauber TV movie
2002 Division, TheThe Division Agatha B. Episode: "Farewell My Lovelies"
2005 Thicker than Water Jess Jarrett TV movie
2006 Four Extraordinary Women Anne TV movie
2010–2013 Warehouse 13 Dr. Vanessa Calder Episode: "For the Team"
Episode: "Buried"
Episode: "Love Sick"
Episode: "Fractures"
Episode: "The Living and the Dead"
2011 Alphas Dr. Vanessa Calder Episode: "Never Let Me Go"
2013 The Thanksgiving House Abigail Mather TV movie

Books[edit]

  • High Road to Health: A Vegetarian Cookbook by Lindsay Wagner and Ariane Spade (1994) ISBN 0-671-87277-X
  • Lindsay Wagner's New Beauty: The Acupressure Facelift by Lindsay Wagner and Robert M. Klein (1987) ISBN 0-13-536806-5
  • 30-Day Natural Face Lift Program by Lindsay Wagner and Robert M. Klein (1988) ISBN 0-86188-779-4

References[edit]

External links[edit]