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Linda Cristal (1931–2020), starred as Victoria Cannon in “The High Chaparral”

by Linnea Crowther

Linda Cristal was an actress who starred as Victoria Cannon in the popular Western series “The High Chaparral” from 1967 to 1970.

Golden Globe winner

A native of Argentina, Cristal began her acting career at home and in Mexico before transitioning to U.S. movies and TV. Her first English-language role was in “Comanche” (1956), and she won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for her performance in “The Perfect Furlough” (1958). She appeared with John Wayne (1907 – 1999) in “The Alamo” (1960) and with James Stewart (1908 – 1997) in “Two Rode Together” (1961). After taking several years away from acting to raise her children, Cristal returned to star in “The High Chaparral” on NBC, playing the Mexican bride of rancher “Big John” Cannon. Cristal won another Golden Globe for her performance, and she was Emmy nominated. Largely out of the public eye after “The High Chaparral,” Cristal made a few final appearances on TV shows including “Police Story” and “The Love Boat.”

Cristal on her “The High Chaparral” audition

“The scene they handed me to read was all tenderness and sweetness, and I knew they were looking for a heroine with fire and spunk. So I asked them if I could throw away the script and just improvise. I made up stories showing love, hate, passion, envy, jealousy, etc. I tried a scene as a street walker. I was a mother who had lost a son in the war. Before I was through, I had taken off my hat, my shoes and even my jacket. In my intensity I was all over these people, roughing them up. But I walked out with the contract.” —from a 1968 interview with the Boston Globe


What people said about her

Full obituary: The New York Times

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