Nostalgia

Big Hair, Big Shoulders And Big Money: Linda Evans On '80s Excess

Joan Collins, John Forsythe and Linda Evans at a party celebrating the production of 150 episodes of Dynasty in 1986.

hide captionJoan Collins, John Forsythe and Linda Evans at a party celebrating the production of 150 episodes of Dynasty in 1986.

Reed Saxon/AP

You may find a hint to the era in which you were born (as well as your taste in entertainment) in Linda Wertheimer's clarification that on the '80s nighttime soap Dynasty, actress Linda Evans played Krystle Carrington — Krystle with a K, that is. (And, she does not add, an L-E.) If that surprises you at all, you were almost surely not paying attention to the television of the 1980s, when Evans, John Forsythe and Joan Collins made up the wealthiest, nuttiest, most notorious and most rhinestone-covered love triangle ever bedazzled for prime time: Krystle, Blake and Alexis.

Evans is featured in the National Geographic Channel miniseries The '80s: The Decade That Made Us, which began airing Sunday night and continues Monday and Tuesday. While she may be part of a slice of pop culture history more often remembered for the over-the-top dialogue and the huge hairdos (Evans says she had "more hairpieces on than anyone's ever worn"), she believes something more was at work in the saga of the super-rich Carringtons.

Evans says the 1980s were a time when "we all wondered what it would be like to be that wealthy." And of course, the Carringtons had nothing but drama, quite literally. "I hope the show expressed well that money doesn't buy you happiness," says Evans.

Money doesn't even buy you a ticket out of having Joan Collins pull your hair, as Evans learned when the two women were set up to end each season with a knockdown drag-out. The way she sees it, their rivalry was so rich because they were set up to be opposites, showing the contrast between "the women who make choices for money and power [and] the women who make choices for love and family."

That's not to say, of course, that they had nothing in common. They certainly shared an affinity for shoulder pads. "Joan and I could not walk through a door at the same time," Evans acknowledges.

But she says she always liked the fact that Krystle, no matter how crazy her life became, never embraced the money obsession that surrounded her. "Greed is an option," she says, "and it's been an option in every decade."

Perhaps Krystle's glamorous life and Alexis' string of men looked like pure indulgence, but Evans sees much of the story of Dynasty as a cautionary tale about excess and the universal tendency in its direction: "People got to look at a part of themselves, the choices they could make, and see the consequences of it."

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