As one-half of one of the more desired sister acts in history, Audrey Landers - along with her equally blonde and bouncy sister Judy - became a pinup queen and legitimate television star in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Always destined for stardom, the multitalented beauty first gained fame for playing Afton Cooper, a sexy songstress in love with Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), on the hit primetime soap "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991), a role that proved to America that she was more than just a curvy blonde. Throughout her time on the show, she made numerous television appearances both with and without her sister on such mainstays of the day as "Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986) and "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1979-1984) before taking a bit of a step backwards by posing alongside Judy for a non-nude 1983 pictorial in Playboy magazine. Over the years, Landers attempted to temper her sexpot image by appearing in the feature version of "A Chorus Line" (1985) and on hit comedies and soap operas as a more mature character, including "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) as a headstrong mob king's daughter and "Burn Notice" (USA Network, 2007-13) as a sugar mamma to CIA operative/opportunist Sam Axe. Regardless of age, Landers secured her small bit of showbiz legend as one of the most desirable and surprisingly talented blonde bombshells of her generation.
Born Audrey Hamburg on July 18, 1956 in Philadelphia, PA, Landers' mother Ruth Landers, was a producer and writer who would go on to manage her daughter's career for over 30 years. Younger sister Judy was born two years later. Though not twins, they would later become cemented in the public's minds as such, as both looked very much alike. A beautiful baby, Landers started acting and modeling at the young age of three, appearing in a commercial for bubble bath with her mother. In her teens, Landers was already acting on the daytime drama "Somerset" (NBC, 1970-76) while studying music at the Juilliard School. Unlike her sister, she possessed actual musical chops as a vocalist. She went on to major in psychology at Columbia University. After college, Landers headed to Los Angeles to seriously pursue her chosen acting career. With her breezy, girl-next-door look, Landers readily landed stints on various hit shows such as "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981), "The Dukes of Hazzard" (CBS, 1979-1985), and the adventure-comedy "B.J. and the Bear" (NBC, 1978-1981), where she guest-starred opposite her sister Judy, who would later become a regular.
In 1981, Landers landed her career-defining role on the popular primetime soap opera "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) about a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle ranch business led by conniving patriarch J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), and his younger, morally righteous brother Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). To play the part of aspiring singer Afton Cooper on "Dallas," Landers shed her cheerleader-like persona and transformed into a villainous glamour girl who was desperately in love with the show's resident loser, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval). Due to her constant plotting, her character did not win fan votes initially, but as the series progressed, the wily seductress slowly peeled off her harsh exterior and showed off a more loving side - as well as a pleasant singing voice - earning Landers a loyal following along the way.
Audiences welcomed Landers' metamorphosis wholeheartedly, and like her sister Judy, the actress adopted a sexier public persona and received an onslaught of roles that required her to prance around in short and skimpy outfits. Capitalizing on this powerful image, Landers appeared with her sister on the cover of a 1983 issue of Playboy magazine. While the cover was seemingly intended to further enhance their sexpot images, the non-nude pictorial backfired for not revealing enough of the sisters' assets. But Landers proved that she was more than just a pretty face with the memorable role of Val Clarke in the feature version of the long-running musical "A Chorus Line" (1985). Her performance in the film of "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" helped jumpstart a successful recording career in Europe.
In the 1990s, Landers returned to her soap opera roots with a regular role on "One Life to Live," as the feisty daughter of a mob kingpin. Later in her career, Landers toned down her image and guest starred on more kid-friendly fare, including "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-1992) and the PBS children's series "The Huggabug Club" (1995), a project she collaborated on with her sister. In 2007, Landers had a recurring role on the action drama "Burn Notice" (USA Network, 2007-13), as a girlfriend of former CIA operative Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell).
By Candy Cuenco