Lindsay Wagner first captured the hearts of audiences in the 1970s with her iconic portrayal of Jaime Sommers on the hit sci-fi series The Bionic Woman.
With her girl-next-door charm and natural acting ability, Wagner quickly became one of the most popular television stars of the decade. However, after The Bionic Woman went off the air in 1978, Wagner seemed to disappear from the public eye. So what exactly happened to this beloved actress?
Early Life and Career
Wagner was born on June 22, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. She experienced her parents’ divorce at the age of seven, leading to several relocations.
Wagner attended the University of Oregon and Mt. Hood Community College but dropped out and moved to Los Angeles.
Lindsay Wagner first appeared on “The Dating Game” before she became widely recognized for her role as the Bionic Woman. Her appearance on the show was in 1968.
She paid her dues in the early 1970s by taking on a variety of guest starring and minor recurring roles on popular TV shows. She made appearances on hits like Adam-12, The F.B.I., The Rockford Files, and Night Gallery, often playing one-off characters. She also made an appearance on The Dating Game in
Wagner had more regular roles on Marcus Welby M.D. from 1971-1975, playing various characters over the course of several episodes. She also took parts in made-for-TV movies like Two People in 1973 and Second Wind in 1976. Though these were small supporting parts, they allowed Wagner to hone her acting skills.
The Bionic Woman
Her big break came when she was cast as Jaime Sommers on The Six Million Dollar Man in 1975, a role that was popular enough to spin-off into her starring vehicle, The Bionic Woman, the next year.
In an interview, Wagner shared the story of how she was cast as the Bionic Woman, admitting that she hadn’t seen “The Six Million Dollar Man” before accepting the role. She explained that she took the role as a gift for her younger sister, whose favorite show was “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Lee Majors added that he had requested a love interest on his show, leading to Wagner’s casting.
“The Bionic Woman”aired from 1976 to 1978 and follows the story of Jaime Sommers, a former tennis pro who is critically injured in a skydiving accident. To save her life, she undergoes a surgical procedure that replaces her damaged body parts with bionic ones, giving her superhuman strength, speed, and hearing.
Jaime’s new abilities lead her to work for a secret government agency known as the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence). Under the guidance of her handler, Oscar Goldman, Jaime takes on various missions, battling criminals, spies, and even other bionic beings. The show explores Jaime’s struggle to balance her extraordinary abilities with her desire to lead a normal life.
“The Bionic Woman” consists of three seasons, with a total of 58 episodes. The series debuted on ABC and later moved to NBC for its final season. Throughout its run, the show maintained a strong following and became a cultural phenomenon. It spawned merchandise, comic books, and even a 2007 reboot.
What Did She Do After The Bionic Woman?
Following “The Bionic Woman,” Wagner acted in various television miniseries and films, including the highly-rated 1980 miniseries “Scruples” and three made-for-TV Bionic reunion movies with Lee Majors between 1987 and 1994. She co-starred in Sylvester Stallone’s 1981 movie “Nighthawks” and starred in short-lived television series like “Jessie” (1984) and “A Peaceable Kingdom” (1989).
Wagner’s work extended into the 1990s and 2000s, with roles in less prominent projects such as “Ricochet” (1991) and television films like “Thicker than Water” (2005). She also had a recurring role as Dr. Vanessa Calder in the SyFy channel’s “Warehouse 13” and appeared in “Grey’s Anatomy” as Helen Karev. In 2018, she co-starred in “Death Stranding,” a video game, marking her first experience with motion capture and voice acting technology.
Outside of acting, Wagner authored books on acupressure and vegetarian cooking. She appeared in commercials and infomercials and has given seminars and workshops for her self-help therapy, “Quiet the Mind and Open the Heart.” In 2013, she began teaching at San Bernardino Valley College in southern California, focusing on acting and directing for television and film.
Where Is Lindsay Wagner Now?
Now in her 70s, Lindsay Wagner has been actively involved in various pursuits beyond acting. She has been actively participating in a diverse range of events and engagements recently.
From hosting live autograph signings and video chats to appearing at various Fanboy Expos and Comic Con events, she has maintained a strong connection with her fans.
She has also facilitated personal growth seminars, such as the “Quiet the Mind Open the Heart Audio-Seminar,” and participated in special appearances like the “Women of Substance Luncheon.”
Additionally, she was involved in the video game “Death Stranding.”
Wagner has been married and divorced four times, with her marriages to Allan Rider, Michael Brandon, stuntman Henry Kingi, and TV producer Lawrence Mortorff. She has two sons with Kingi.
Wagner was also involved in a car accident with her then-boyfriend, actor Michael Brandon, which left her with a permanent scar on her upper lip.
In a remarkable twist of fate, she narrowly escaped being a passenger on American Airlines Flight 191, which crashed in 1979, killing all on board, after she felt ill and skipped the flight.