Linda Evans Says She 'Could Never Have Done Dynasty ' If She Hadn't Gotten Divorced from John Derek

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
linda evans
linda evans

Robert Ascroft

Linda Evans is reflecting on her path to Dynasty.

The 78-year-old actress is well known for playing Krystle Carrington on the popular soap opera from 1981 through 1989 — but she says she may not have made it on the show if it weren't for her split from ex-husband John Derek.

Evans and Derek, who died in 1998 at the age of 71, wed in 1968 and separated in 1973, before he disclosed his affair with Bo Derek. At the time, it had been several years since the end of Evans' first major show, The Big Valley.

"John and I broke up nine years after we met — he fell in love with Bo," she tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "And then I called my agent and said, 'I want to work again,' and he said, 'You've been away for so long. How are we going to pull this off? Everyone's forgotten about you.'"

"I said, 'I don't know, but I just got to do it,'" she recalls.

For more from Linda Evans, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, or subscribe here.

DYNASTY
DYNASTY

BOB DAMICO/GETTY Dynasty

RELATED: Linda Evans on Shooting Her First Film In Decades After Health Issues: 'Of Course I Was Nervous'

Evans says her split from Derek, whom she met when she was on The Big Valley, was "totally" devastating.

"I thought, 'Oh, my God. I think I should die rather than have to go through this,'" she says. "I mean, he was ... it was just perfection that I was in love with him, that I told my sister when I was a teenager, I would marry him and then I did. I thought, 'This is God given gift here, right? It's not supposed to go away like that. What is this? My dream is not supposed to end like this.'"

"It was horrible. It was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced," she continues, but adds that "sometimes when the worst thing happens to you in your life, it's actually the best thing that ever happened to you in your life and that has been the truth my entire life."

"If I had stayed married to John, who didn't want me to work, I could never have done Dynasty," she says. "I would never have known all the magic that followed that show or that experience, which to me is just like, one of the most beautiful things anyone could even hope to experience in a lifetime."

swan song
swan song

Chris Stephens/Courtesy Magnolia Pictures Linda Evans in her latest movie, Swan Song

RELATED: 14 Actors Who Quit Hollywood (and Whether or Not They Actually Stuck to Their Decisions)

Evans notes that "the greatest revenge is happiness" — and that's exactly what she found following her divorce.

"My life turned around," she says. "I married this handsome playboy, who, my God, said he waited all his life for someone like me and he was going to be faithful now. And he wasn't, and hey, that's okay too. That's life."

Evans' second marriage was to L.A. real estate broker Stan Herman, from 1975 to 1979. It was after that divorce, she says, that she was finally led to Dynasty.

"I found myself going, 'Okay, then here you are again. You're almost 30. You've been married twice. You're going to turn into Elizabeth Taylor. You're going to just get married and married and married. You better just stop this thing of "the man's going to be my dream," and go for another dream.' So I called up my agent, and I said, 'Okay, now I want a career.'"

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"It took me a while. I didn't work for about a year and a half. … One day my agent said, 'I got this script for you to read. See if you like it. It's called Oil.' And that was Dynasty's original name," Evans remembers.

In the years after Dynasty, the star moved to rural Washington state and was no longer looking for work. But all that changed in 2019, months before the pandemic shut down the planet, when Evans fell in love with a script she'd read for the touchingly dark comedy Swan Song and soon found herself flying to Sandusky, Ohio, to shoot her first movie in decades.

"What are the odds that I'd be back working at 78?" she says of her role in Swan Song, now playing in theaters and on demand. "It's so outrageous, but as I always love to say, 'Anything is possible.'"