Lindsay Wagner was born in Los Angeles, California. When she was 7 years old, her parents divorced and her mother moved with her to the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock, near Pasadena. Lindsay might have been able to begin her acting career as a teenager when she was offered a lead role in a TV series at age 13, but was advised by family friend James Best to wait until she was older.
Another move with her mother and stepfather (Ted Ball) brought her to Portland, Oregon, where she attended David Douglas High School and appeared in a number of school plays. Lindsay studied at the University of Oregon, overcoming dyslexia to become a successful student.
Lindsay worked as a model in Los Angeles, and gained some television experience by appearing as a hostess in Playboy After Dark. However, it was not until she contacted a friend at Universal Studios and was cast in a small part in Marcus Welby, M.D. that her acting career took off. Lindsay’s appearances helped her win roles in the films Two People and The Paper Chase. Lindsay played a total of 4 different roles on the Marcus Welby, M.D. series between 1971-75, as well as a recurring guest role in The Rockford Files.
In 1975, Lindsay then played Jaime Sommers, a former tennis pro who was the childhood sweetheart of Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors). In a two-part episode entitled “The Bionic Woman”, Jaime was critically injured in a skydiving accident and, at Steve’s request, she was equipped with bionic limbs similar to his own (with the exception of his bionic eye, as Jaime was equipped with a bionic ear instead). Unfortunately, Jaime’s body rejected her new bionics and she later died.
This was intended to be Lindsay’s last role under her Universal contract, but public response to the character was so overwhelming that Jaime was “brought back to life” with her own spin-off series, The Bionic Woman (it was discovered that Jaime hadn’t really died but had been put into cryogenic suspension until she could be cured). Like Steve, Jaime became an agent for the U.S. Government agency, the O.S.I., though, suffering from amnesia, she could not remember her love for Steve. However, the two would team up for several crossover episodes thoughout the series’ run. The role earned Lindsay an Emmy Award for “Best Actress in a Dramatic Role” in 1977.
Following the cancellation of The Bionic Woman in 1978, Lindsay 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, Lindsay starred in two more weekly television series; Jessie (1984) and A Peaceable Kingdom (1989), though both of these were short-lived.
Lindsay continues to act to this day[when?], though in less prominent roles. Lindsay’s most recent projects have included the 2005 telemovie, Thicker than Water, with Melissa Gilbert, Buckaroo: The Movie (2005), and, Four Extraordinary Women (2006).
In 1987, Lindsay wrote a series of books with Robert M. Klein about using acupressure to achieve results akin to a surgical facelift.
Lindsay was the spokesperson for Ford Motor Company.
Lindsay also appears in infomercials for Select Comfort’s Sleep Number bed.
More recently, Lindsay has given seminars and workshops for her self-help therapy, “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart”, which promotes spirituality and meditation.
Lindsay has been married 4 times. From 1971–73, she was married to music publisher Allan Rider. From late 1976–79, she was married to the actor Michael Brandon. In 1981, she married stuntman Henry Kingi whom she met on the set of The Bionic Woman. Wagner had 2 sons with Kingi; Dorian born in 1982 and Alex born in 1986. Lindsay married TV producer Lawrence Mortorff in 1990, but they divorced a couple of years later.
Lindsay is related to Dallas star Linda Gray, as Linda’s ex-husband Ed Thrasher, is one of Lindsay’s uncles. Lindsay and Linda also played romantic rivals in the television movie The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan (1979), a project which was purchased for distribution in Japan and Europe only after the addition of a semi-nude scene (the only part of Lindsay’s career she openly regrets).
In 1979 Lindsay held a ticket to American Airlines Flight 191, but due to an uneasy feeling about the flight, decided to cancel. The flight went down 30 seconds after takeoff, killing all onboard.
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