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THE BIONIC WOMAN COLLAGES #01

Updated: June 28, 2023

Early Life:

Actress, author and activist Lindsay Jean Wagner was born in Los Angeles, California on June 22, 1949. Her father, William Wagner, was a professional photographer and her mother, Marilyn Wagner, was a building contractor. Her parents divorced when Wagner was 7 years old, and she moved with her mother to Eagle Rock, a suburb outside Pasadena, California.

Wagner stumbled into acting at age 12 through a fortuitous accident. She was babysitting for the children of family friend James Best ( who went on to star in the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard ), when Best suggested that she join his acting class. Wagner was hooked instantly. She suffered from severe ulcers as a child, and said that acting helped her confront her pain. As she later recalled, "Finally I had a place where I could express my pain, and I felt safe because I didn't have to put my name on it. I think acting kept me alive back then."

Aspiring Actress:

Wagner made her onstage debut when Best cast her in a local production of This Property is Condemned by Tennessee Williams. Precociously beautiful, Wagner also began modeling, working often with her aunt, the actress and model Linda Gray. However, Wagner's young career was put on hold when her mother remarried and moved the family to Portland, Oregon. Wagner briefly attended the University of Oregon, but dropped out after one year when her dyslexia made her studies too difficult. A 19-year-old college dropout in 1968, Wagner put in a brief stint as the lead singer of a rock band before returning to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Wagner again found work as a model. She appeared in several television commercials, and as a hostess on Hugh Hefner's talk show, Playboy After Dark. In 1971, Wagner signed with Universal Studios as a contract player. Earning $162 per week, Wagner made her TV debut that same year in an episode of the police drama Adam-12. She acted in guest roles on numerous shows throughout the early 1970s, including a five-episode gig on Marcus Welby, M.D.

The Bionic Woman:

In 1975, Universal decided to drop Wagner as a contracted player. Her final role was to appear in an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, the popular program featuring Lee Majors as the bionic-limbed secret operative Steve Austin. Wagner initially intended to turn down the part that would become her big break. It was only as a birthday present to her half-sister Randi, whose favorite show was The Six Million Dollar Man, that Wagner reconsidered and took the part.


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