Dallas, the longest-running primetime soap opera in television history, will always remain one of my personal favorites. In fact, simply for the joy of watching Victoria Principal, I could watch the entire series again.
Alongside Larry Hagman, who portrayed the ruthless oil tycoon J. R. Ewing, Victoria was one of the main attractions of Dallas in her iconic role as Pamela Barnes Ewing.
Victoria Principal celebrates her 73rd birthday today, and when you see the most recent images of this ageless beauty, I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Victoria Principal, at 73, has always been a multi-talented individual. Throughout her extensive professional career, she excelled as an author, producer, actress, and entrepreneur in the skincare industry.
Victoria’s upbringing was marked by frequent relocations due to her father’s service in the United States Air Force. She was born on January 3, 1950, in Japan, spending her early months on Japanese territory in Fukuoka.
During her childhood, the Principal family moved between various U.S. Air Force facilities, including stints in Puerto Rico, Florida, Massachusetts, and England. Victoria attended a total of 17 different schools during her elementary years, even studying at the prestigious Royal Ballet School in England.
Her childhood is a subject of conflicting accounts, with some sources suggesting a less than joyful upbringing. Victoria herself once mentioned in a 2009 interview that she wished she had known her childhood would come to an end.
On a different note, Victoria Principal is known for a well-known quote: “I was very lucky. My parents raised me in such a way that it never occurred to me that I wasn’t equal.”
What is certain is that Victoria started working at a young age, with her first job being in a television commercial at the tender age of 5.
However, Victoria initially pursued a different career path when she enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College in 1968 with a major in medicine, potentially on her way to becoming a doctor.
Fate intervened when a serious accident occurred just months before she completed her first year of college. Victoria suffered significant injuries in a car accident, necessitating months of recovery and recuperation.
Unfortunately, she lost crucial college months and had to restart her first year of study. It was at this point that Victoria made a life-altering decision to change her path. She moved to New York City to embark on an acting career.
In 1971, Victoria made her way to Los Angeles after working as an actress and model in New York and Europe. She began auditioning for significant film roles on the West Coast, eventually landing a part in “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,” directed by John Huston and starring Paul Newman as Roy Bean, who was romantically involved with Victoria’s character.
Victoria’s talent became increasingly recognized in Hollywood, and she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Newcomer. Her newfound fame led to invitations to various events, but she soon realized that some people were more interested in her as a “hot meal ticket” than as a person, as she candidly revealed.
Despite her early success, Victoria struggled to find roles that fulfilled her professionally. The failure of her subsequent movie, “The Naked Ape,” took a toll on her self-confidence.
She briefly appeared in the 1974 disaster film “Earthquake,” which was financially successful at the time. However, during the filming of “Vigilante Force” in 1975, Victoria experienced a significant breakdown due to the pressure of maintaining an ideal image.
“I realized I was so unhappy I didn’t want to live,” Victoria explained.
She made the courageous decision to forgo pursuing an acting career and opted for law school instead, working as a talent agent between 1975 and 1977, a career change that provided some relief from the emphasis on her appearance and physique.
It was during her time working as an agent that Victoria first encountered “Dallas” on television. Despite having received offers to return to acting before, it was the “Dallas” script that truly changed her life.
“I had left acting to be an agent and was on my way to law school, but when a friend dropped off a ‘Dallas’ script, I read it. When I finished, I knew my life had changed – that part was mine. So I called the [casting] person and said, ‘I’m sending someone in.’ She said, ‘Who?’ I said, ‘Just put down my name. It will be a surprise.’ And it certainly was a surprise – I showed up with me! I sent myself in for it!” Victoria said.
Victoria had an intuitive sense that “Dallas” would become a hit.
“When I went in for the part on ‘Dallas,’ I had already fallen in love with the show and with the part, so my feeling from the moment I read it was that it was incredibly special and that I really, really wanted to be a part of it. I could not imagine not being Pam,” she remarked. It seemed as though she was destined for the role.
Victoria Principal negotiated her own deal with CBS, leveraging her industry skills to secure terms that allowed her to pursue her passions alongside her acting career. This included the freedom to carry out her own desires as “Dallas” captured the hearts of millions worldwide.
“Dallas,” which debuted in 1978, is undeniably one of the greatest television dramas of all time. At 28 years old, Victoria Principal played a significant role in the show’s global success. She achieved adoration status as Pamela Barnes Ewing, the stunning wife of Bobby Ewing and the sister-in-law of J.R. Ewing.
During her nine-year tenure on “Dallas,” Victoria received Soap Opera Digest Awards nominations and a Golden Globe nomination. She recently discussed her experiences on the show, including her relationship with co-star Larry Hagman, who portrayed J.R. Ewing, and other behind-the-scenes details.
“Going toe to toe with J.R., a.k.a. Larry Hagman, was always a delight. Larry was a generous actor and would find a way to talk to me the morning of the scene about how we could make it even more powerful,” she shared.
While she had professional relationships with her castmates, Victoria explained that they didn’t have many social gatherings outside of work due to their different lifestyles and family commitments.
In 1987, Victoria Principal made a significant decision to leave the popular TV show “Dallas.” She cited several reasons for her departure, including the effort required to maintain the separation between her real self and her character, Pam Ewing, and a decline in the quality of the show’s writing.
She even turned down a substantial contract offer that would have made her the highest-paid actress on television at the time.
“The first five years on ‘Dallas’ were so unbelievably wonderful — then some key writers departed, and by year seven there was a decline in the