Big Hair, Big Shoulders And Big Money: Linda Evans On '80s Excess
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Regular listeners to this program might recall our story from April 1 about a group of historic re-enactors who focus on the 1990s. That was an April Fools joke. But it turns out we were only 10 years off.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Breakout your legwarmers and parachute pants for a trip back to the '80s.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO CLIPS)
BROOKE SHIELDS: Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There has to be a way to solve the Rubik's cube.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Gross out, like gag me with a spoon.
JAMES D. WETHERBEE: Challenger, go at throttle up.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Tear down this wall.
MADONNA: (Singing) 'Cause everybody's living in a material world and I am a material girl...
INSKEEP: The National Geographic Channel is playing a six-part documentary titled "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us." Tonight's focus is a TV show that was synonymous with big money and big shoulder pads.
NPR's Linda Wertheimer sat down with Linda Evans.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Remember "Dynasty" - a TV series that played for most of the '80s, a time when Americans apparently wanted to watch fabulously wealthy people fueled by oil fortunes, dripping with diamonds, draped in furs? Linda Evans played Krystle Carrington - that's Krystle with a K, the wife of oil baron Blake Carrington. But Evans really played opposite the oil man's formidable former wife, Alexis - a signature performance by Joan Collins.
I talked to Linda Evans about why in the 1980s we were so fascinated by rich people behaving badly.
LINDA EVANS: All of us kind of wondered what it would be like to be that wealthy, to have that kind of lifestyle, to be able to just have anything we wanted. And I hope the show expressed well that money doesn't buy you happiness. If anyone who was watching "Dynasty" didn't notice, there was a lot of drama.
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EVANS: (as Krystle Carrington) You are jealous, jealous because I was going to give Blake a child and you couldn't stand that. Could you?
JOAN COLLINS: (as Alexis Carrington) Oh, no. You are jealous because Fallon is having her baby and that made you even more paranoid. So, if you've quite finished...
EVANS: (as Krystle Carrington) I haven't.
WERTHEIMER: The documentary suggests that ambitious, manipulative Alexis Carrington inspired ambitious women everywhere. But you, you were the sweet one. Joan Collins was the dark witch to your fair witch.
WERTHEIMER: How is that?
EVANS: You know, they really managed to show the contrast in women - the women who make choices for money and power, the women who make choices for love and family. Somebody could identify with one of us and root for us. And then, of course, they pitted us against each other. And at the end of each season we had an amazing catfight.
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EVANS: (as Krystle Carrington) If you want a rematch, just whistle - if you can.
WERTHEIMER: Now, you understand, of course, that you are a pop icon; that, you know, people see you and it sort of pops them right back into that period. What comes into your head when you think of Krystle? I mean what was the sort of emblematic of Krystle thing that you would think of?
EVANS: Well, one of the reasons that I liked her character was she was not seduced into the money thing. Greed is an option. It has been an option every decade. But I think because of "Dynasty" and "Dallas" and some of the shows that were on, people got to look at a part of themselves, the choice that they could make and see the consequences of it.
WERTHEIMER: Well, you know, you've given me a very serious answer to the question. And I was kind of thinking of things like big hair and big shoulders and...
EVANS: Oh, definitely, I had more hair pieces on than anyone's ever worn. And the shoulder pads, Joan and I could not walk through a door at the same time. We were like football players. We had so many shoulder pads.
EVANS: I mean it was really fun to just, you know, get bigger, bigger, glitzier, fancier. I mean at one point they came in and they said: Your wedding ring is not reflective of your husband - we have to give you a bigger ring. And it was so huge that it was like a car light or something.
EVANS: And it was just gigantic. But that's what they wanted and that's what we did. And I must say it was fun, fun, fun.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WERTHEIMER: Linda Evans, she appears in tonight's installment of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel. It's called "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us."
I'm Linda Wertheimer, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.