by Nick Thomas
One of the hottest actresses to emerge from the 1970s has been appearing around the country in recent years presenting her stage show, “More than a Bionic Woman: An Evening with Lindsay Wagner.”
Wagner began appearing in primetime network television series in the early 1970s, with her breakout film role coming in 1973’s “The Paper Chase.”
But it was her Emmy award-winning role as TV’s favorite female semi-cyborg in “The Bionic Woman” that brought her great acclaim, although her Jaime Sommers character was only planned as a two-part guest-starring role when introduced as a love interest for Lee Majors in “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
“The story ended by killing Jaime off and the response from the audience was huge,” explained Wagner. “They were so appalled that the studio had killed off a character that had resonated so deeply with them and especially their children. Even a children’s hospital in Boston wrote a letter of protest. So the studio had to bring me back for another two-parter to bring Jaime back to life and the network decided to do the spin-off series.”
Wagner retired her bionic implants after three seasons and three reunion movies to tackle dozens of TV movies throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Those roles often focused on social issues such as domestic violence, adoption, mental health, terrorism, and capital punishment.
“I have always felt that TV could be used not only to entertain, but also to highlight important issues and help people embrace their higher potential,” she explained.
Wagner went on to become an author, acting teacher, motivational speaker, and continues to act. She also actively promotes a holistic approach to health – a lifestyle she adopted after suffering gallbladder issues and stomach ulcers in her teens when she was able to avoid surgery after receiving counseling from a doctor and minister who shared a common philosophy to healing.
“We all have the ability to grow through our difficult circumstances in life rather than just survive them,” she says. “You have much more potential than you realize.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 600 magazines and newspapers.