As the popular star of classic televisions series "The Big Valley" in the ‘60s and "Dynasty" in the ‘80s, actress Linda Evans became a beloved fixture of American pop culture. In "Recipes for Life," Evans looks back at what brought her the greatest joys in her remarkable journey. Here's an excerpt.
Chain Me to a Stove
Friends laugh when I tell them “You could chain me to a stove and I’d be happy.” But it’s the truth. My two favorite things in life are people and food. Combining them by preparing meals for the people I love is simply my recipe for joy.
My whole life I never could say no to food. I’m a mystery to my family. I was called “Bones” by my father when I was young and blessed with an incredible metabolism that allowed me to eat, eat, eat, with little consequences, and I still can. It has been one of the great pleasures of my life.
I started cooking when I was about twenty-three. It was rough going at the beginning, and then I discovered Julia Child’s first cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I was in heaven.
As I continued to experiment and learn and grow, I found it wasn’t just the cooking I was deriving such pleasure from, it was also the cooking for. Finding the right menu for the right person was a wonderful experience, and when I hit it, the alchemy was delicious. Since the first time I cooked something special for someone and saw the joy it gave them, I’ve been hooked. It became my passion, though not my only passion.
Ironically, I never planned to become an actress. I’d always dreamed of having children, a loving husband, and a beautiful home. Destiny definitely took me down a less traditional road. I have had beautiful homes, and two marriages that started off very lovingly, and I’ve been a stepmother instead of a mom. Not exactly what I’d had in mind, but God knows I have no regrets. Life led me in directions I never imagined, but it has always fulfilled my heart’s desire and has given me far more than I ever could have dreamed.
Acting has afforded me a lifetime of meeting remarkable people around the world. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve actually dined with kings and queens and presidents, that I’ve been invited to everything from intimate dinners in quaint little villages to the most prestigious restaurants from Paris and Hong Kong to Sydney. I even spent my fortieth birthday in the dining car on the Orient Express en route to Venice.
From "Big Valley" to "Dynasty" and everything in between and since, I have been collecting recipes. Some are from world-renowned chefs, others were handed down through the generations. Some are from friends and celebrities I have known, and, of course, many are from the hundreds of cookbooks I have amassed over the last forty years.
I love experimenting: creating my own versions of recipes and testing them out on my friends. As I’ve said, one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone is to prepare their favorite meal. Being able to touch someone’s heart, while doing something I adore, is one of the reasons I so love to cook.
More in books
Since those amazing "Dynasty" days, my life has continued to be a wondrous adventure, enabling me to travel the world, getting to know others and myself. I’ve learned so much more than just how to separate the yolk or all the lovely ways to set an inviting table. Certainly, my wild ride on "Hell’s Kitchen" with Marco Pierre White was one of the greatest cooking experiences of my life. I’ve come to see the complete picture, why it’s not just about preparing a meal, but the importance of friends gathering to share their hopes and dreams.
This book is a love letter to all those I have known and cherished and shared wonderful foods with. I hope that you will enjoy the people, the recipes, and the banquet that has been my life—so far.
The Joys of Having Two Dysfunctional Families
"Dynasty" opened the world for me in every way. I’ve thanked God endlessly, but I owe a special thanks to Angie Dickinson for turning down the part of Krystle. Since then, we’ve become friends, so I was able to thank Angie myself.
Just like a real dysfunctional family, there was always so much drama to be had, and we had so much fun with it—especially during the famous catfights between Krystle and Alexis. The first time I read a script that had our characters fighting, I was thrilled to be back to the stunts I so enjoyed doing during "The Big Valley." Lucky me.
The first stunt was Krystle confronting Alexis in her cottage. It was a knock-down, drag-out fight with feathers flying everywhere. We fought our way through the entire room, knocking over everything in sight, including each other. I won!
Another one of my favorites was the lily pond scene, which we filmed at an estate in Pasadena. Oh, the magic of television. It looked like we were in six feet of water but in reality we were in only two and a half feet, and fighting on our knees! It felt absurd and we struggled all day to make it look authentic. When at the end of the day the director yelled “Cut and print,” we stood up looking like a couple of drowned rats. The crew spontaneously broke out in applause and laughter. What fun!
The audience always looked forward to these confrontations and so did I. Joan loved the verbal fights—I hated them. I loved the physical confrontations—she loathed them. We did them all—for nine years!
Credit: “Recipes for Life: My Memories” by Linda Evans. Copyright © 2011 Linda Evans. Published by Vanguard Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
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