Image: The Everett Collection
In 1964, Linda Cristal walked away from acting. She had no shortage of movie roles. The brunette beauty had appeared in a string of period pictures and Westerns, films made in America, Mexico and Italy. She was Cleopatra in Legions of the Nile (1959) and sporting sandals again in the Ancient Egyptian epic The Pharaohs' Woman (1960). Two Rode Together (1961) cast her alongside Jimmy Stewart in a John Ford cowboy movie. On the small screen, Clint Eastwood came to her aide in the Rawhide episode "Incident of a Burst of Evil."
But at the age of 33, the Argentinian actress was willing to leave it all behind to raise her children.
Cristal selectively took only bit roles here and there. In 1964, she appeared in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, "The City Beneath the Sea." Yet a juicy role lured her back into full-time work. In 1967, David Dortort, creator of the smash series Bonanza, had a new Western ready for the airwave — The High Chaparral. The show cast Cristal as Victoria Cannon, the young wife of rancher "Big John" Cannon (Leif Erickson).
Cristal, born Marta Victoria Moya Burges, had been raised in South America. When she was a child, her family fled from Argentina and relocated to Montevideo, Uruguay. Her acting career began in the Argentinian and Mexican film industries before the American oater Comanche (1956) gave her a Hollywood breakthrough.
The High Chaparral brought Cristal acclaim. She was nominated for two Golden Globes for her role as Victoria — winning one for Best Actress - Television Drama in 1968. She was no stranger to the trophy. A decade earlier, she had taken home the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year in The Perfect Furlough (1958). She garnered two Emmy nominations, as well.
Following The High Chaparral, Cristal did retreat a bit from the spotlight. She was a judge alongside Robert Evans in the 1977 Miss Universe pageant. She popped up on The Love Boat.
On June 27, Cristal died at her home in Beverly Hills, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 89.
Watch The High Chaparral on H&I
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