The Eighties positioned Stefanie Powers as the most interesting woman in the world

In the Sixties, she struggled to find the spotlight while bullfighting in her free time.

The Everett Collection

Before Stefanie Powers became The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. in the Sixties, she was a struggling actor born in Hollywood with the dream of making it big.

At this time, she saw television as her road to success, preferring to take on quality TV roles, versus competing for forgettable small parts in features.

"I consider television to be my savior," Powers told Daily News in 1966. "Ten months of it will do my career more good than years of features."

Most notably in the early Sixties, one of her first visible roles was playing Calamity Jane on Bonanza.

It would take three years after this role, though, before she got cast as the lead on The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

That casting came at a time when Powers felt down on herself as an actor, seeing herself as directionless in Hollywood.

"As far as I was concerned, my career was going nowhere," Powers said. "The studio had absolutely no plans for me."

But then she beat out the competition to play April Dancer in 1966, and began earning $1,500 a week and gaining wider exposure as a rising star.

She thought this was finally her big break, but then the show was cancelled after one short season.

The disappointment from the series cancellation set Powers back as she found footing as a character actor in the Seventies, becoming prolific by steadily taking on mostly dramatic roles in movies and TV.

"My position was that of a working actress, which was very nice," Powers said. "Everybody thought I could do a job. But doing anything else, or expanding my horizons, was out of the question because I didn’t have the financial viabilities."

The Eighties changed that when Robert Wagner got cast as the lead in a new detective show called Hart to Hart.

Wagner was good friends with Powers and strongly encouraged her to audition to become his costar, the other Hart to his Hart.

Powers was not favored for the role, and she blamed her slow and steady career as a character actor for being overlooked.

"ABC didn’t want me," Powers said. "They didn’t care for me. They wanted someone else. Well, I was not the most in-demand actress in town at the time."

But Wagner insisted, and in the end, Powers did get the part.

Then, when the show became a hit, she pulled in $50,000 per episode, a steep pay hike from her Girl from U.N.C.L.E. days.

It was at this point in interviews where Powers discussed her extensive world travels, where she fluently spoke many different languages and most enjoyed thrill-seeking activities like bullfighting.

The media started positioning her as one of the most interesting women in the world in the Eighties, not just embodying the YOLO spirit but sharing her philosophy for getting the most out of her time on earth.

"Nothing gives me a greater thrill than seeing or participating in a bullfight," Powers said. "It’s elemental and emotional. Some of the greatest experiences in my life have taken place when a matador dedicated a bull to me."

As Powers did more interviews as she gained fame as a hit TV star, her reputation started proceeding her, and she told The Sentinel in 1985 that it was important to correct the record regarding all the intrigue that surrounded her adventurous life.

"Some people have a great misconception of me, that I’m somehow unique," Powers said. "But I am not in any way exceptional. I am not an extraordinary person. What I do have is an extraordinary curiosity. I was born with it. From the first, I have wanted to know the world. I want to live in it, be of it, see and experience it, and grow."

To Powers, being humble was part of her philosophy for living life right.

"We must never, at any time, harbor an exalted opinion of ourselves, after all, we are only a little speck on the face of history," Powers said. "But, while we’re here on this planet, life can be a great adventure, if we do not become too self-involved, and if we make the effort to expand our horizons."

That’s why no matter which point of her career she found herself in: disappointed by some of the Sixties dead ends or at the height of success as a star of Eighties series Hart to Hart, Powers always took more pleasure in the experiences of acting in TV shows and movies and not so much in seeing the final product onscreen.

"I go along with the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu, who said, ‘To do is to be,’ and I am one who prefers ‘to do’ to everything else," Powers said... which we think is exactly the sort of thing the most interesting woman in the world might say.

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tootsieg 9 months ago
I loved watching The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Very hip show for the times.
Mark 9 months ago
Worried that it was an obituary link, fortunately not. My earliest TV memories are as a 3 year old in 1966 watching The Girl from Uncle and Batman with my mother. I suppose my mom liked the show because it was a rare action show with a female lead. In the 90s I saw some Girl from Uncle episodes on TNT, my goodness it was awful
ncadams27 9 months ago
She should do a show with that guy from the Dos Equis commercials.
Runeshaper 9 months ago
Being the most interesting woman in the world should go hand in hand with being humble. I give Stefanie Powers a lot of credit there (-:
Sway 9 months ago
Wikipedia says "Powers was founding President of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation and a director of the Mount Kenya Game Ranch and Wildlife Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya. In the United States, she works with both the Cincinnati Zoo and Atlanta Zoo. She devotes a great deal of time to the cause and is an international guest speaker on wildlife preservation.[53][54][4]". This seems totally incompatible with Bull fighting (tormenting and torturing bulls). Doesn't mention her Bullfighting. Maybe with age she wasn't so proud of that.
Sway 9 months ago
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AnnieM Sway 9 months ago
I was wondering about that myself. These MeTV articles often quote from interviews that are decades old, so who knows, but you're right in that bullfighting and wildlife conservation couldn't be farther apart. 😮
LoveMETV22 AnnieM 9 months ago
Was wondering the same. Only mention in old interviews was something she did when she was young. Perhaps before her acting career or early in her career? Doesn't appear it was something she was active in later on though.
Andybandit 9 months ago
I loved Stefanie Powers in Hart to Hart. I wish MeTv would air it.
It's on GetTV. Steph really had to bring the smug to co-star with Bobbo.
Thank you. I have DirecTV, so they don't offer GetTv. Oh well. Just MeTv
Coldnorth Andybandit 9 months ago
Hart to hart was a great show. Was the dog named freeway and if my memory is correct does anyone know why they named him that
Coldnorth Andybandit 9 months ago
I wish MeTV would run Remington Steele. Is it on anywhere?
Andybandit Coldnorth 9 months ago
I don't know if Remington Steele is on any other channels. I wish it was on MeTv
nightshade Coldnorth 8 months ago
because they found the dog on the Santa Monica freeway......
Michael 9 months ago
I xaw "Stephanie" and thought this was another Full House story.
JHP Michael 9 months ago
LOL me too:)
MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
“Nothing gives me a greater thrill than seeing or participating in a bullfight.” Good grief.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
And the matador dedicating the bull to her! 😝
JHP MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
I guess she never had the pleasure of being in a "black friday sale" :)
Pacificsun 9 months ago
She nearly did the MFU franchise in. She was a dingbat in the role, barely permitted to carry any kind of a firearm and stepping aside so her costar (Noel Harrison) could do all the fight scenes. Mostly in it for the fashions!
Moody Pacificsun 9 months ago
Yeah but she looked great doing it!
BrittReid 9 months ago
Loved April Dancer growing up.
Doreet BrittReid 9 months ago
. UM lots of non-European non-Spanish humans don't understand bullfighting. It is part of the culture of Spain,and the bull is seen as a great creature, a wonderful spirit of nature,a real being, who in Spanish culture is very much respected. The bullfighter and the bull are seen as Man and Nature, the bull is very respected as he fights and suffers for his life--its a part of Machismo. I would talk to a real respecter of bull fighting, to understand it, The matador is risking his life,cause the bull is SO DANGEROUS, he's dancing with death!! One movie"The Matador's Mistress" explains how dangerous, close to death, a matador is, every time he fights.(Its in Spanish with subtitles.)That particular movie explains it well.--Spanish-bull-fighting-lovers are not particularly cruel.--They understand & see the matador is one of the bravest risk-taker that ever lived on earth.--So they do not see bullfighting as "cruel." They see the bull as a great animal, and don't like the bull to suffer, necessarily.--But the bull literally becomes almost a sacred dangerous creature the matador must come so close to.--The bull is death personified. Yes, talk to a fan of bullfighting, ask one to explain it. I don't want animals to suffer, either, but I understand bull-fighting more than some.
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