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Lindsay Wagner Has Given Up Her Bionics — Read About Her Life & Career

Plus, her interest in natural healing and spirituality

Lindsay Wagner movies and TV shows began more than 40 years ago when she was cast as Jamie Sommers on the hit sci-fi TV series The Bionic Woman, which debuted in 1975 as a spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man. She portrayed the tennis pro empowered by two secret bionic surgical implants after a skydiving accident.

Originally, Wagner’s character was to die after her body rejected those parts, but the public response to her was so overwhelming that producers had no choice but to reverse their decision, the “death” becoming a near-death experience, with Jamie serving as an agent for the OSi just as Steve Austin (Lee Majors) was. The show and its star became a smash hit and a toy line soon followed.

Lindsay Wagner, 1975
Lindsay Wagner, 1975, actress in movies and TV showsGetty

Decades later, Wagner transitioned from her role mainly as an actress into a powerful voice for a holistic approach she referred to as the “Quiet the Mind and Open the Heart” philosophy, becoming a motivational speaker at the same time.

The holistic healer is passionate about inspiring a new generation of actors and advancing human potential both physically and spiritually through her retreats and workshops. While she still acts and lends her voice and likeness to video games, her fascination with natural healing helps her maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Lindsay Wagner, 2018
Lindsay Wagner, 2018Getty

The life of Lindsay Wagner before movies and TV shows

Born Lindsay Jean Wagner in Los Angeles on June 22, 1949, her first name stemmed from the fact that her dad had wanted a son. Raised in Portland, Oregon, she appeared in a couple of school plays in high school. After graduation, she spent several months in France before enrolling at the University of Oregon for a year.

Despite being diagnosed with dyslexia, she decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career. With her statuesque figure and good looks, Wagner worked as a model while gaining some television experience by appearing as a hostess of the Hugh Hefner-produced series Playboy After Dark and as a contestant on The Dating Game in 1969.

Lindsay Wagner, 1982
Lindsay Wagner, 1982Getty

She was then signed by Universal Studios and made her primetime TV debut in Adam-12, going on to appear in numerous Universal shows, including Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, The F.B.I. and Night Gallery.

The actress’ early career

Beginning in 1971, Wagner appeared in five episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D. and two episodes of The Rockford Files. Staying within the Universal family, she was cast in Two People in 1973, which was her first feature film and lead role. She also co-starred in The Paper Chase the same year.

Lindsay Wagner, The Paper Chase, 1973
Lindsay Wagner, The Paper Chase, 1973 Getty

Then, Wagner hit it big with The Bionic Woman, making a few crossover appearances on The Six Million Dollar Man. Jaime Sommers brought the actress an Emmy Award in 1977, and the fact that it’s the role she’s most-remembered for doesn’t really bother her.

I got over that years ago,” she told the Times Colonist in 2015 with a laugh. “Some people get frustrated by that, because sometimes the industry pigeonholes you. Some people start to resent that which gave them something wonderful.”

Lindsay Wagner, 1970, actress in movies and TV shows
Lindsay Wagner, 1970Getty

With the cancellation of the series in 1978, Wagner continued to act, mostly in TV miniseries (including 1980’s Scruples) as well as three made-for-TV Bionic reunion movies with Lee Majors, which were filmed between 1987 and 1994.

Sticking with her Bionic guy, Wagner appeared in an episode of Majors’ The Fall Guy series in 1983. Five years later, she played Kate McKinnon, a crusading mom who becomes ostracized for attempting to suppress anti-Semitism in a small town in the ABC movie Evil in Clear River, based on a true story.

Smaller roles came her way throughout the 90s and 2000s, such as the film Ricochet (1991), Thicker Than Water, Buckaroo: The Movie – both in 2005 – and Four Extraordinary Women (2006).

Lindsay Wagner, 2002
Lindsay Wagner, 2002Getty

A boost in her career came in 2010 with a recurring role as Dr. Vanessa Calder in the SyFi Channel’s hit Warehouse 13, a role in which she reprised on the network’s Alphas in 2011.

Looking for another outlet, Wagner began teaching Acting and Directing for Television and Film at San Bernardino Valley College outside of Los Angeles, but it wasn’t long before she returned to TV, appearing on an NCIS episode and Grey’s Anatomy, in which she played Alex Karev’s mother over the course of two seasons, beginning in 2018.

Wagner lent her likeness and voice to the video game Death Stranding, which was her introduction to that medium.

Lindsay Wagner, 2004, actress in movies and TV shows
Lindsay Wagner, 2004Getty

What Lindsay Wagner has been up to outside of movies and TV shows

In more recent years, Wagner has continued to give seminars and workshops to promote meditation and spirituality.

“Quiet the Mind and Open the Heart is the umbrella under which I give all my workshops and retreats,” she told Woman’s World. “Some of the techniques I teach are various forms of meditation, deep breathing and contemplation,” methods that can be tailored to help performers overcome anxiety. A longtime vegan, she co-authored the vegetarian cookbook, High Road to Health.

Lindsay Wagner, 2018, actress in movies and TV shows
Lindsay Wagner, 2018Getty

Wagner doesn’t take her accomplishments and good fortune for granted. “I have always been rather intuitive, and I believe that’s a natural gift we all have. We just need to learn to acknowledge it.

“I am not typically afraid of flying, but I was to be on a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1979 with my mom going to visit my sister and that flight eventually crashed. As we got closer to boarding, I just started feeling very anxious. My mind was racing, why I was so anxious and didn’t want to get on the plane. Knowing I’m always sorry if I don’t listen to what my sense is telling me, I changed our tickets really fast and then the anxiety stopped. We heard about the plane crash much later that day. So, if I have a guardian angel, I am eternally grateful.”

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