We know actress Linda Evans best by the characters she has portrayed on the big and small screen from Audra in Big Valley to Krystal Carrington on “Dynasty.” But when I saw her speak recently at the Los Angeles Women’s Expo, I didn’t know that she is also a good cook. Throughout her career, Linda has cooked for a who’s who of Hollywood including John Wayne and Steve McQueen
“I wanted to write a book that was honest and to let people know what my life was.” Linda Evans
Now, at 69, Linda has combined her passion for preparing food with memorable moments from her life in her first memoir, Recipes for Life. In her own words, she writes about the devastating time when husband, the late John Derek, left her for Bo; the movie roles that got away; facing her fear of dating Yanni, a younger man; and being friends with her ex’s ex-wives.
Her book is a fascinating journey of a well-lived life in the spotlight. Linda now lives in the Pacific Northwest, and has no plans to return to Hollywood.
But she hopes by sharing her stories, and the recipes that got her through the good times and the bad that she can encourage fans to embrace life and all it gives us.
After hearing her speak, I wanted to learn more about her “Fresh Start Blueberry Muffins,” the man who recently got her heart pumping, and if she ever plans to play Krystal again…
EYE: So after the blood, sweat and tears of writing your book, was it worth it?
LINDA: Oh, my gosh. I am so glad, but if you had asked me a year ago, I would have said why did I agree to do it? There was no template for this book. It took me three and a half years to do this!!
But it was an incredible adventure. It taught me so much. I got so many gifts from this book. I’m already a rich woman in my soul from it. I now want to tell everyone to look back at their life because you can see with new eyes how it led you to where you are now. I did the best I could and never worked harder in my life.
EYE: You had been asked before to write a memoir…
LINDA: Yes, but I didn’t want to do a memoir because I’m not through with my life. I’ve got a lot of life left to live! I was asked to do a cookbook during “Dynasty,” but I just didn’t have the time.
The idea started when I was 65 because I sat down and said, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” A memoir is boring, but I love cooking. So I thought why not weave my life with memories of people and food?
“When I think of my dinner guests, I think of what they love and what they want to eat.”
EYE: How important is it to “write your life?”
LINDA: To me, every person should write their life. When I looked back and saw the moments, I knew there was no such thing as a secure woman! All women have insecurities, and we have to deal with all of these life problems. I wanted to write a book that was honest and to let people know what my life was.
Disasters in the past were horrible at the time, but looking back, they were the greatest times of my life because they bumped me off of where I was into someplace else.
EYE: Why incorporate recipes with personal stories though?
LINDA: People in my life replenish me. The reason I wrote this book is that combining food with people is one of the few things everyone can do today, and no one can take that away from us. Food to me is giving. When I think of my dinner guests, I think of what they love and what they want to eat. When I see them smile, it pleases me. We have connected. It’s the most beautiful intimate thing: sharing with people.
EYE: Were there aspects of your life — personal stories — that you didn’t want to share?
LINDA: It wasn’t that there were chapters of my life I didn’t want to write, but I wondered what was appropriate for a memory book with recipes and people. How deep do I go? But I did want it to be filled with the highs, the lows, and – as a woman – my journey. I wasn’t afraid to say anything.
I think when you look back at your life, the things you’re the most afraid to deal with are the ones you most have to go into. That’s the pay dirt. That’s the part where you’ve got all the things that will set you free.
EYE: Why do you call this the “banquet that has been my life?”
LINDA: It’s the banquet of what your life ends up to be. As I looked back, my dream was to get married, have kids and that was it. And then life took me in different directions; the marriages didn’t work out; I kept being thrown back into the entertainment industry to support myself. My whole life is a banquet and all the things on the table that I’ve experienced. Each part of my life is a different course.
I tried to write about things that would amuse people and to say things that I didn’t say in my career that people hadn’t read somewhere else. I knew I could say it my way.
EYE: You write a lot about your first husband John Derek…
LINDA: I fell in love with John when I was 12. I said I’m going to marry him. I had a picture of him over my bed. I would have stayed married to him forever and ever. I wanted to die after John left me (for Bo). But if I had stayed married to John, I would never have had “Dynasty” or all the outrageous things that happened to me.
“Sometimes when a guy goes, it’s the best thing, not the worst thing.”
Barbara Stanwyck told me love comes once in a lifetime. John left when I was 28. I said it’s over? I’m not going to let that be. I’m going to be in love as many times as I want. I’ll never give up because they will come. Within a few months, I met a playboy who became my second husband and jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
I left him because I said I’m not going to be with a guy who is going to cheat on me. The line was drawn in the sand. I’ve never had a man cheat on me again.
EYE: What do you think looking back at a 28-year-old Linda Evans?
LINDA: Time gives us wisdom. The wisdom that I have is the greatest gift in my life. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I can’t be knocked off my center easily.
We can be healthy. We can be productive. We just have to stop saying life is about what we look like instead of who we are.
EYE: Are these your favorite recipes?
LINDA: In weaving these recipes with my life, they had to be relevant to a situation. I chose a lot that fit in those parts of the book.
EYE: In one chapter, you wrote about dealing with heartache and that the best revenge is to be happy… and what better way than with blueberry muffins?
LINDA: Yes, my recipe to go with that is “Fresh Start Blueberry Muffins.” I add lemon zest and ginger!! I saw how well it worked for me when I let go of what was happening and all the drama.
You don’t look back and wonder “what if?”Just look forward and ask what now? Get a fresh start. The minute you put your mind to the future, something magical happens.
EYE: You write a lot about facing your fears: acting, certain relationships, writing a book…
LINDA: I was forced to face fear early on. I had to take drama in junior high or they would have flunked me. I was “discovered” when I went with my girlfriend to a commercial audition.
My dad had died, and I was so afraid of it, but my mom needed the money, so I had to do the commercial. Later, John Forsythe gave me my first speaking part! In order to support my family, I did these things.
Later in life, after “Dynasty,” I told my agent I would never do a play in front of a live audience. But then I did “Legends” for nine months with Joan Collins, and that was a tremendous fear I had to overcome.
Being with Yanni was a big risk. He was 12 years younger. I thinking that this shouldn’t work. But that feeling for him the minute I looked at him…I had to let him walk through that door. I had to have that experience.
I had to overcome my fear. When you walk into your fear, you find out as you keep going that it’s just a paper tiger, and you get so strong on the other side of the fear. It’s all your creation. When we clear that from our minds, there is a freedom and power that comes to you that was once trapped.
EYE: ….even singing with George Burns!
LINDA: Hahahahahaaaa…. he’s a beautiful man. I just told myself: do your best!
“It’s taken me a long time to have self-love.”
EYE: You write about having found self-love. Many may think that of course Linda Evans can say that. She’s famous, beautiful and rich!
LINDA: You know you’re nothing without it. The blessing for me was finding out that getting rich and famous doesn’t do squat for insecurity. Personal love doesn’t care if the world doesn’t like you; its there for you no matter what. And most people don’t know how to love themselves.
EYE: Are you still a work in progress?
LINDA: I am a gazillion times better than when I was on “Dynasty.” All that doesn’t make you secure. It’s taken me a long time to have self-love.
EYE: You wrote about turning 40. You seemed to embrace your 40’s
LINDA: On some levels of my life, it was great; at other times, not having the children or marriage that I wanted, I became aware of it. Forty isn’t fatal. Your 50’s are wonderful. The 60’s are more difficult in terms of gravity, and the body changing.
Bette Davis said aging isn’t for sissies. We are a work in progress our entire lives. Purpose for life is wisdom. I wouldn’t give up anything right now to be younger because I have wisdom. I’d have to give that up too.
EYE: You’ve seen many changes in Hollywood. How do you think women are doing now in general?
LINDA: Women right now are better off than they’ve ever been. We have more freedom to be and do anything we want. The world is waking up. We’re seeing women in other countries and how they’re struggling.
We understand how we can support each other; seeing what has to change. People don’t like change because it’s not safe. Society is hesitant because they are afraid. But actually it is our freedom, that’s how we get out of it.
“I’ve taken things much too seriously in my life.“
EYE: Do you have any regrets? Any do-overs?
LINDA: Are you kidding? Not at all. If I missed one thing, I wouldn’t be the person I am sitting here today. I’ve taken things much too seriously in my life. If we do that, we’re caught in the past and not enjoying what’s right in front of us this very second.
I have had very serious moments – when my dad was dying; when John left me for Bo; my second husband was worse than my first. I don’t regret it. I just learned from it.
EYE: Do you find it funny that people can’t believe that you are friends with John Derek’s other wives, Bo Derek and Ursula Andress?
LINDA: They are all wonderful women. If he had chosen two lousy ex-wives, I wouldn’t be friends with them!
EYE: I think people have a perception that you’re life is perfect. But you did write about messing up that bernaise recipe one time (ha!)
LINDA: Oh, I’ve had so many non-perfect moments. While writing this book, I learned so much about making mistakes. We all make mistakes so much. Just move on and learn!!
EYE: TNT is doing a remake of “Dallas”. Do you think there will be a “Dynasty” remake?
LINDA: There’s always a chance. If “Dallas” does well, you can bet they’re going to try to do something.
EYE: Would you go back?
LINDA: If life presents it to me, I’ll certainly consider it!
EYE: You had a chain of fitness centers, but how do you stay in such good shape now?
LINDA: I walk an hour a day. I live on 70 acres in Washington State and I also have a personal fitness center in my barn. But I love to eat so I’m not about abstaining from life. I’m about living life.
EYE: What books do you like to read?
LINDA: I’m looking forward to having a life now. I’ve done nothing the last three and a half years because of writing my book. But I just ran into Steven Tyler and we swapped books.
He was a charming man. I had forgotten what its like to be next to a man who makes your heart beat. I’m definitely going to read his book.
EYE: Is there one word to describe you today?
EYE: Thanks for the pasta recipes! It was so nice to meet you. Keep on cookin’!!!