Linda Evans was the original “Good Wife.” As Dynasty‘s Krystle Carrington, the blond, angelic second wife of tycoon Blake Carrington, played by the debonair John Forsythe, Evans was the polar opposite of the manipulative, scheming first wife, Alexis Carrington, played with evil relish by Joan Collins. It turns out that Linda and Krystle could be the same person. In other words, each is almost too good to be true.
Krystle, of course, is a fictional character. Evans, however, is not only real but really, really nice. In her new book, Recipes for Life: My Memories, she looks back on a life well lived and lived well. Don’t look for any bitterness, except in some of the lemony recipes that she includes in the book. This is a woman who could easily hate people who have hurt her—ex-lovers and the women who stole them away. Instead, she embraces them and keeps them close. How does she manage that?
While Evan’s life has unfolded in ways she never could have predicted—she had always dreamed of having a loving husband, children, and a beautiful home—she doesn’t obsess over what she has lost, but rather celebrates what she has won. And Evans, like Krystle, has truly lived a charmed existence filled with mansions, beautiful cars, and gorgeous clothes. She met Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, Presidents Reagan and Bush, and Pope John Paul II (who she was happy did not recognize her as Krystle Carrington).
But it’s her list of friends and co-stars, particularly those lucky enough to share her dinner table, that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities. Her first movie, Twilight of Honor, was with Richard Chamberlain. She also guest starred on Dr. Kildare and dated Chamberlain. Barbara Stanwyck, Evan’s co-star on The Big Valley, served as a surrogate mother after Evans’ own mother died. She hung out with Pilar and John Wayne on their boat, the Wild Goose. Ursula Andress and Jean-Paul Belmondo dropped in for lunch. (One day Evans returned home to find Andress sitting by the pool with Sean Connery, Andress’ co-star in Dr. No).
Evans did a feature film, The Klansman, with Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, meeting Elizabeth Taylor. She was a guest star on many of the top series of the 70s, including McCloud, with Dennis Weaver, Harry O, with David Janssen (the original Fugitive), and Banacek with George Peppard. Living in Malibu with her then boyfriend Stan Herman, Evans’ evenings were spent mingling with a galaxy of stars—Suzanne Plushette, Sammy David Jr., Henry Mancini, Polly Bergen, Richard Harris, Tony Curtis, Liza Minelli, Jack Haley Jr., Tony Bennett, and many others.
Evans first met Rock Hudson when she did a guest spot on McMillan & Wife. Years later, Hudson did a guest spot on Dynasty. The script called for Hudson’s character to kiss an unconscious Krystle after she suffered a fall from her horse. Rather than the passionate kiss the director had hoped for, Hudson merely brushed Evans lips, even after several retakes. Weeks later, the news leaked out that Hudson had AIDS. “In retrospect, it was incredibly touching how hard he tried to protect me,” Evans writes. She returned the favor, refusing to react to rumors that he had given her the disease and signing on as a presenter when Elizabeth Taylor launched her HIV/AIDS foundation.
While Evans never found long lasting love, she rarely went dateless. And her memoir is filled with many anecdotes detailing her romantic history. What stands out is Evans capacity for forgiveness. When John Derek (who had been married to Andress), left Evans for Bo Derek, she was devastated. Years later, however, she and Bo became good friends. “I believe in my heart that Bo never set out to get John; he fell in love with her,” she writes. When Derek died, his ex-wives—Andress, Evans, and Bo—came together to celebrate his life.
Evans doesn’t flinch from talking about her most recent affair with the much-younger singer and composer, Yanni. She traveled with him to his native Greece, met his family, and enjoyed many Greek meals. After nine years, she said that their romance “got lost in the journey,” but wouldn’t have missed the adventures they shared.
Perhaps Evans’ greatest love affair was the one that happened on screen with her co-star, Forsythe. They worked together on Dynasty from 1981 to 1989, creating a fairy tale romance that had viewers tuning in week after week. Off the screen, Evans was good friends wirth Forsythe and his wife, Julie, and they shared meals and recipes. (Julie’s sesame chicken is included in the book).
There’s one glaring omission in the book and this, perhaps more than anything else speaks to Evans’ belief that “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Joan Collins and Evans not only co-starred on Dynasty, but also toured in the play Legends, playing characters much like Krystle and Alexis. Yet Collins is barely mentioned in the book. Certainly there were behind the scenes stories that Evans could tell. That she chose not to speaks volumes.
Evans confesses that she loves to cook and would be happy chained to a stove. The recipes she has collected for the book reflect the foods she has enjoyed and served for her friends. Here’s one to try:
Great and Simple Cheese Souffle
If you are usually afraid of attempting a souffle, don’t be afraid of this one.This is unlike any other cheese souffle, because in this one you don’t need to beat in egg whites and fold them in. You can even assemble it up to two hours ahead and bake it just before serving. Serve immediately as, like all souffles, it will fall. Believe it or not, this is a low carbohydrate recipe.
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, cut into large chunks
11 ounces cream cheese, cut into large chunks
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Grease a 6-cup souffle dish with the butter.
In a food processor, combine the eggs, cream, Parmesan, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Blend until smooth.
Add cheddar cheese and cream cheese chunks and pulse to blend until completely smooth and all ingredients, especially the cream cheese, are incorporated; this may take up to 5 minutes. Scrape the sides and pulse again to make sure it is well blended.
Pour unto souffle dish and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Recipes for Life: My Memories