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25 April 1999 (USA)  »

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Television's first female superhero
3 May 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Written by Ruth Rivin and narrated by Robert Urich, who appeared with Wagner in Princess Daisy and Young Again, this study of Lindsay Wagner emphasises her "emotionalism, soul and spirit". What is revealing is how Wagner appears more girlish and funny in the accompanying narrative interview than in most of her work. Born in Los Angeles in 1949 to a broken family, Wagner's mature looks led her to modelling at 14, and after a sojourn in Portland, Oregon where she lived with her stepfather and mother, she returned to L.A. Whilst she hated modelling's "superficiality", and passed time as a cocktail waitress and sales clerk, a friend working at Universal Studios helped her be tested and she was signed to a contract in 1971. After 2 years of guest appearances on television shows like Marcus Welby MD, The Rockford Files, Adam 12 and The FBI, and feature film roles in The Paper Chase and Two People, she was cast as Jamie Sommers, Steve Austin's girlfriend who was made bionic in The Six Million Dollar Man. High ratings and public reaction led her to have her own television show The Bionic Woman in 1976 - the first actress to appear as the lead in an action series. After 3 seasons, an Emmy, ill health, and battles with the show over content, Wagner called it quits, with the offer of the made for TV movie The Incredible World of Dr Meg Laurel that led to her new career direction - made for TV movies and miniseries.

Footage appears here from two of her made for TV movies - Shattered Dreams - which she produced - and A Message for Holly - which presents her in a persona close to the real woman, one who feels an affinity with nature and rural life. She has testifed against television violence targetted at children at a Senate Commerce Committee, is a continued commercial spokeswoman for Ford, and author of a vegetarian cookbook. After 4 marriages, and two sons Dorian and Alex, she is currently dating George Amiotte, with whom she likes to ride horses. Also interviewed are Wagner's mother Marilyn Ball, sister Randi, aunt Linda Gray with blonde hair, friend Margaret Paul, Bionic Woman co-star Richard Anderson, Bionic director Alan J Levy, Shattered Dreams co-star Michael Nouri, A Message for Holly co-star Shelley Long, Amiotte, and the sons.

Points of interest are Wagner's childhood dyslexia, describing doing Tennessee Williams' This Property is Condemned in acting class as "lancing her heart", her bimbo-ish appearance on TV's Playboy After Dark where she seduces Tony Bennett, the Bionic Woman doll that came out looking more like Farrah than her, her decision to nurse her children that changed her working methods, her tears over the divorce from her third husband Henry Kingi, and a publicity photo where she resembles Cheryl Ladd.


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