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9 big things you never knew about Linda Evans

'The Big Valley' star celebrates her birthday today.

Image: The Everett Collection

It's hard enough for actors to find one career-defining role, let alone two. Linda Evans is one of the lucky ones, having starred in two very popular, and very different, shows.

Evans rose to prominence in the 1960s as Audra on the The Big Valley,the classic Western starring Barbara Stanwyck. In the 1980s, Evans came roaring back to television in the primetime soap opera Dynasty. 

One of the strongest women in television, Evans turns 73 years old today. To celebrate her accomplishments, here are nine things you might not have known about the actress. 

1

Her first TV role was opposite John Forsythe.

Evans appeared on an episode of Bachelor Father in 1960, in which she played a girl who develops a crush on Bentley Gregg, played by John Forsythe. Two decades later, Evans and Forsythe played a couple on the primetime soap opera Dynasty. 

Image: NBCUniversal

2

She almost didn't appear in 'The Big Valley.'

After Evans got the part, she says her boyfriend at the time (whom she later married) didn't want her on the show. When she tried to quit, the producers wouldn't let her out of her contract. 

3

Barbara Stanwyck was her mentor.

Evans was only 23 years old when she started on The Big Valley, and quickly gravitated toward the 58-year-old Stanwyck. After Evans' mother died during production of the series, Stanwyck said, "I will never replace your mother, but I will be your mom now."

4

The two women shared cute nicknames.

Evans called Stanwyck "Missy," while Stanwyck called Evans "Audra," after her character's name on The Big Valley

5

She filmed Evel Knievel's crash.

Evans' ex-husband was a photographer, and recruited her to shoot the daredevil's devastating jump over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1967. 

Image: AP Photo/Walt Zeboski

6

Joan Rivers didn't have anything bad to say about her.

Joan Rivers was notorious for saying what was on her mind when it came to the most famous celebrities. But Rivers didn't have anything bad to say about Evans, commenting, "[She] is one of the only people in the business I've never heard anything negative about."

Image: AP Photo/Doug Sheridan

7

She's actually friends with Joan Collins.

Despite the drama onscreen, Evans said she knew Collins before Dynasty even started. 

Image: CBS Television

8

She promoted Crystal Light in the 1980s.

Her character's name on Dyntasy is Krystle Carrington. It just made sense.

Image: YouTube

9

She's a health nut.

Evans owns her own gym and walks five miles per day. Now that's impressive!

Image: YouTube

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