If you grew up in the ’70s, you almost certainly remember Lindsay Wagner, the leading lady from the sci-fi television show The Six Million Dollar Man and its popular spin-off, The Bionic Woman. A pop culture icon, action hero, and sex symbol of her time, Wagner’s star power was undeniable. She went on to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Role for her groundbreaking performance as Jaime Sommers, as well as two Golden Globe nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Today the actress is 72 years old and, after 50 years as a Hollywood actor, her career is still thriving. Read on to see the timeless beauty now!
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Wagner continued acting after starring in The Bionic Woman.
When The Bionic Woman was canceled in 1978, Wagner had no trouble finding more juicy Hollywood roles in TV series, TV movies, and films. On top of reprising her role as Sommers for three made-for-TV Bionic Woman reunion movies, she found success co-starring opposite Sylvester Stallone in Nighthawks, and starred in two popular ’80s series: Jessie and Peaceable Kingdom.
Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, Wagner had many more onscreen successes. She appeared opposite Denzel Washington in the action thriller Ricochet, as well as in smaller roles in several other films including Thicker than Water, Buckaroo: The Movie, and Four Extraordinary Women. She later joined the cast of the TV drama Warehouse 13 as Dr. Vanessa Calder, and reprised that role for the Syfy show Alphas. Notably, she joined two seasons of hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Alex Karev’s mother, Helen Karev.
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She’s shared some of the ways that fame has shaped her life.
Even by the ’90s, the fruitfulness and longevity of Wagner’s career was already a topic of discussion. “I’ve been blessed,” she shared in a 1991 interview. “People have continued to follow me and the business has continued to recognize that,” she said.
However, the actress has also opened up some of the more challenging aspects of life as a public figure. She says she was warned of the emotional pitfalls of the industry early on and went into it with open eyes, but still found fame to be a challenging “balancing act.”
“Losing your anonymity is a very unstabling [sic] thing and you have to learn to live with that,” she said while promoting Ricochet. “As strange as it may sound, it’s like losing a limb in a way—you’ll just never get it back. And people don’t have any idea what that’s like, for people to look at you all the time, watch every move you make whenever you go out,” she explained. Wagner added that this is especially true “if you’re shy by nature, which I really am, contrary to what most people think.”
You may have seen her in a popular video game.
Wagner has also seen success in a less traditional acting format. In 2018, she signed on to co-star in Death Stranding, a video game developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment and Kojima Productions, which also starred Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Lea Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color), and Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), among others.
Wagner performed the role of Bridget Strand—the fictional former president of the United States of America and later the president of the “United Cities of America”—using motion capture and voice acting technology.
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Wagner has remained busy off-screen, as well.
Though Wagner has had a steady stream of acting work since The Bionic Woman wrapped, she has also had a career outside of—or at least adjacent to—Hollywood. Most recently, in 2013, she joined the faculty at San Bernardino Valley College in southern California as an adjunct professor of acting and directing.
Wagner has also been recognized for her work as a philanthropist. She was presented with the Humanitarian Award at the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival for championing important causes through her work in entertainment. On the red carpet for the event, she explained what motivated her to forego certain film roles in favor of more socially-conscious projects on hard-hitting topics. “I just wanted to do movies about social issues that were not being talked about—domestic violence,” for example. “Everyone in the dynamic is wounded,” she said, “let’s look at it and be inclusive about everybody—let’s try to help everybody,” she said.
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