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'High Chaparral' Star Linda Cristal Dead at 89

'High Chaparral' Star Linda Cristal Dead at 89
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Linda Cristal, the glamorous actress who starred on TV's "The High Chaparral," died Saturday in her sleep at her Beverly Hills home. She was 89.

The New York Times reports that her death was confirmed by her son, Jordan Wexler.

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Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 23, 1931, she lived and studied in Uruguay prior to starring in Argentine and Mexican films. Brought to Hollywood, she made her English-language bow in "Comanche" (1956).

Frequently cast in westerns, she also appeared in the Janet Leigh-Tony Curtis romantic comedy "The Perfect Furlough" (1958), directed by Blake Edwards. Cast as "the Argentine Bombshell" in the film, she was chosen as New Star of the Year at the Golden Globes, sharing the honor with Tina Louise and Susan Kohner.

In spite of her early promise and her stunning good looks, the movies were tough going for Cristal, who landed her greatest role on "The High Chaparral" in 1967 thanks to a wild audition she described the following year to The Boston Globe. Ad-libbing instead of using the provided script, she "made up stories showing love, hate, passion, envy, jealousy, etc. I tried a scene as a streetwalker. 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."

Playing powerful Victoria Cannon, wife of a rancher (played by Leif Erickson) and the only woman in the cast, Cristal appeared on 96 episodes until the series was canceled in 1971. She won a Golden Globe in 1970 for her work on the drama.

Ageless, Cristal worked sporadically after the show ended, including making appearances on "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" (1981). Her last performances in any medium were as Dimitra, a crime boss' moll, on a dozen episodes of "General Hospital" in 1988.

Married and divorced twice, she is survived by her sons Jordan and Gregory Wexler, and by two grandchildren.