TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (3)
|Also Known As:||Stephania Zofia Federkiewicz||Died:|
|Born:||November 2, 1942||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Hollywood, California, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor producer dancer singer|
Nick and Nora Charles from the "Thin Man" films of the 1930s delighted audiences and helped make ABC the top-rated network for several seasons. Then, at the height of her professional career, tragedy struck close to home for Powers. Throughout most of the previous decade, she had been in a romantic relationship with the much older William Holden, one of Hollywood¿s brightest stars of the 1950s. The couple, who had shared a love for adventure and wilderness conservation over the years, spent a great deal of time at his wildlife preserve in Africa. His decades-long battle with alcoholism, however, was becoming more and more of a problem, causing Powers to threaten to leave Holden in 1981 in an effort to push him toward recovery. Sadly, it would not be enough, as on Nov. 12, 1981, Holden, who was intoxicated at the time, died after severely lacerating his head due to a fall in his Santa Monica home.
Utterly devastated, racked with guilt and angry at the press¿ focus on Holden¿s alcoholism, Powers nonetheless pushed through with her duties on "Hart to Hart," only to be dealt a second crushing blow mere weeks later. Compounding the current personal tragedy to an almost unbearable degree was the sudden drowning death of Natalie Wood, her childhood friend and the wife of her co-star, Wagner. Determined to move forward and honor the memory of her dear departed companion, Powers founded The William Holden Wildlife Education Center in Kenya in 1982. For his part, Wagner found solace with an old acquaintance, actress Jill St. John ¿ Powers¿ and Wood¿s childhood chum from ballet class ¿ who he began a seeing in 1982. Wagner and St. John would marry eight years later. When to the surprise of many ¿ including Powers and Wagner ¿ "Hart to Hart" was cancelled in 1984, the actress became far more selective in her choice of television projects, and was inclined to focus more on travel and her ongoing wildlife preservation efforts.
She did, however, accept roles that appealed to her, such as a turn as the mother of Melissa Gilbert and daughter of Maureen Stapleton in the relationship drama "Family Secrets" (1984), a project that marked Powers¿ debut as both producer and writer. Other notable roles from this period include screenwriter Montana Gray, the most respectable of a rather scandalous lot in the highly-rated guilty pleasure "Hollywood Wives" (ABC, 1985). Powers won the favor of critics and audiences alike with her turn as Frances Schreuder, a manipulative mother who coerces her son into killing his father for the inheritance in the fact-based "At Mother's Request" (CBS, 1987). Powers was now producing much of what she starred in, including "Beryl Markham: A Shadow of the Sun" (CBS, 1988). The role of the pioneering adventurer Markham seemed tailor-made for Powers' real life, reflecting her love of adventure and exotic travel. Hoping to help set the record straight, the actress participated in the bio-documentary "William Holden: The Golden Boy" (Cinemax, 1988). In 1991, Powers made her West End debut in the London production of the musical "Matador," portraying a character loosely based on Ava Gardner. Her ease on stage may have surprised some, but not Powers, who had honed her theatrical skills previously in such musicals as "Oliver" and "Annie, Get Your Gun."
After turns on such projects as the courtroom thriller "The Burden of Proof" (ABC, 1992), Powers and Wagner reprised their favorite roles in "Hart to Hart Returns" (NBC, 1993), much to the delight of fans. The pairing, still charming and effortless nearly a decade after the original show¿s cancelation, proved popular enough to merit seven more consecutive outings over the next three years. Powers' rapport and chemistry with Wagner spilled over to work in live theater, as well, when the duo starred in a well-received London production of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" during their breaks from the "Hart to Hart" movies. Reinvigorated by the recent stage work, Powers stepped into the role of Margo Channing (created on film by Bette Davis and on stage by Lauren Bacall) in a pre-Broadway tour of the award-winning musical "Applause" in 1996. Back on the small screen, she appeared with Margo Kidder in the made-for-TV supernatural thriller "Someone is Watching" (Lifetime, 2000), then enjoyed a recurring role for several episodes of the long-running British medical drama "Doctors" (BBC, 2000- ) in 2001. Powers made a rare return to film with a supporting role as the mother of a woman addicted to a revolutionary new "personal massager" in the British sex comedy "Rabbit Fever" (2006). Health concerns came to the fore, when Powers, a smoker for two decades, was diagnosed with lung cancer in November of 2008. Thankfully, the resilient actress experienced an admirable recovery following surgery and months of intense physical therapy. In 2010, Powers released her memoir, Stefanie Powers: One from the Hart.
By Bryce Colemanr on the espionage spin-off series "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E." (NBC, 1966-67). Far campier than its more successful predecessor, Dancer¿s battle against the terrorist organization T.H.R.U.S.H. lasted only a single season. Regardless, it was more than enough time for the spirited Powers to endear herself to audiences.
Powers worked onscreen for the first time with Robert Wagner in a 1970 episode of his adventure series "It Takes a Thief" (ABC, 1968-1970), before starring alongside Robert Morse in the nautical comedy "The Boatniks" (1970), the first of two family films the actress would make for Walt Disney Productions. As TV movies became a weekly staple in the early 1970s, Powers proved to be one of its more popular stars, most frequently placed in modestly entertaining thrillers like "Five Desperate Women" (ABC, 1971), "Sweet, Sweet Rachel" (ABC, 1971) and "Paper Man" (CBS, 1971). On the personal front, however, things were not progressing as smoothly. Having recently appeared with him in an episode of the comedy series "Love, American Style" (ABC, 1969-1974), Power¿s six year marriage to actor Gary Lockwood came to an end in 1972. In movie theaters that year, she saddled up with Western tough guy Lee Van Cleef for "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" (1972), then two years later hopped a ride on another family-friendly Disney offering, "Herbie Rides Again" (1974).
By now one of the more familiar faces on television, Powers had become a nearly ubiquitous presence on the small screen. In addition to dozens of other appearances, the prolific period saw her making a guest spot on one of the more popular story arcs of "The Six Million Dollar Man" (ABC, 1974-78), in which Steve Austen (Lee Majors) comes face-to-face with the urban legend, Bigfoot (André the Giant). She later joined the cast of the short-lived mystery series "The Feather and Father Gang" (ABC, 1977), in which she played the crime-solving attorney daughter of a former con man (Harold Gould). Powers enjoyed favorable notices for her featured role ¿ once again opposite Cliff Robertson ¿ in the Watergate-inspired miniseries "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" (ABC, 1977), based on the novel by former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. The following season she played non-fiction author Joan Barthel in the highly praised docudrama "A Death in Canaan" (CBS, 1978), about a Connecticut town that rallies around a teen accused of murdering his mother. Powers next joined stars Roger Moore, David Niven and Elliott Gould for the tongue-in-cheek WWII adventure "Escape to Athena" (1979), in what would be her last feature film appearance for nearly 30 years.
That same year, Powers was cast in what was to become her signature role, that of Jennifer Hart, journalist-turned-sleuth in the mystery-romance series "Hart to Hart" (ABC, 1979-1984). The chemistry between Powers and her co-star Robert Wagner, as ultra-wealthy industrialist Jonathan Hart, was palpable and a joy to watch. Their portrayals of an `80s version of classic rich amateur detectives
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute