Victoria Principal (born January 3, 1950) is an American actress, best known for her role as Larry Hagman's sister-in-law and Patrick Duffy's wife, Pamela Barnes Ewing, "Pam", on the long-running CBS nighttime drama Dallas from 1978 to 1987. She is also well-known for her line of cosmetic products.
Principal was born in Fukuoka, Japan, the older of two daughters of Bertha Ree (née Veal) and Victor R. Principal. Principal gave a 1950 year of birth in a 2007 interview with the official Dallas website. She stated that she "felt that was the only way to clear this up once and for all. My name is my real name; my age is my real age. Someone on the internet, years ago, printed a different age than I am and I’m in the process legally of clearing that up, because I have never lied about my age."
Her paternal grandparents were immigrants from Italy and her mother was of English descent. Her father was a sergeant in the Air Force and like most military brats, Principal moved often, growing up in London, Florida, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, and Georgia, among other places, and attending 17 different schools. She studied at the Royal Academy of Ballet while in England.
She acted in a commercial when five, and began modeling in high school. She enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College, intending to study medicine. She continued modelling, winning the Miss Miami title in 1969, but serious injuries in a car crash made her refocus her energy on acting. She moved to New York City, working as a model and actress. After a modelling job in Europe, she studied at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and then moved to Los Angeles in 1971.
Victoria Principal, in a still from Dallas.
Her first film was as a Mexican mistress in Paul Newman's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean for which she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Most Promising Newcomer. Her next film was The Naked Ape (1973) with Johnny Crawford, in which she went topless (years later, on The Tonight Show, she said that this was the worst movie of her career). That year she appeared in a nude Playboy pictorial. She later claimed that she did not read the fine print for her contract for The Naked Ape when she signed it, as it was the fine print that required her to do the nude pictorial.
In 1974, she landed a huge break when she was cast in a co-starring role in the successful disaster film epic, Earthquake. Two years later, disappointed with her career, she quit acting and for the next few years worked as an agent. Principal planned on going to law school, and later become a studio executive.
Aaron Spelling offered her one year's tuition to accept a role in the pilot of Fantasy Island. She accepted, and it renewed her love of acting. She then pursued the role of Pamela Ewing in Dallas which she landed. Her part of Pamela Barnes Ewing was the dramatic fulcrum point of the entire series—a Barnes marrying into the clan-hating Ewing family caused rifts which would erupt for years in and around Southfork Ranch. In 1983, her role earned her a Golden Globe Nomination as Best Actress in a Television Series.
When Principal signed her "Dallas" contract, she omitted the clause that would have given the network the right to consent and profit from her outside endeavors. She explained, "As a result that’s why, you can only notice in hindsight, I was the only person in the cast who did commercials, who was doing movies of the week, who wrote books and these all belong to me. I retained the control and ownership of my image. No one owns me."
She left the show after nine years, and began her own production company, Victoria Principal Productions, although she still works as an actress. In the mid-1980s, she became more interested in natural beauty, and promoted a self-named line of skin care products called Principal Secret, and has written three books about beauty and skin-care.
In late 1999, she appeared on the series Family Guy, in which she played her Pam Ewing role and parodied the infamous "shower scene" in which she dreamed up her Dallas husband's death. In the episode in which the show's family copes with the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust on January 1, 2000, and by the end of the episode, it is revealed to be a dream of Ewing's.
She appeared in the NBC TV series Titans with Yasmine Bleeth in 2000, and in the 1990 TV movie Sparks: The Price of Passion, in which she played the mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The animated television series South Park features a school principal named Principal Victoria, a play on the actress' name.
Principal dated numerous actors and personalities at the height of her fame in the late-1970s, including: Andy Gibb (with whom she recorded a duet "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in 1981), Steven Spielberg (during her work on Earthquake and his pre-production on Jaws), and Frank Sinatra.
Principal met Christopher Skinner in 1978 when he played a bit role on Dallas. After a very short time, she married him, but they divorced in 1980. In 1985, she married Hollywood plastic surgeon Dr. Harry Glassman after a three-year relationship. She has no children from either marriage.
In January 2003, her husband was arrested on a domestic violence charge. On May 27, 2006 she filed for divorce from her husband of 21 years, after they separated in March 2006 citing irreconcilable differences.
On December 27, 2006 the divorce was finalized after Glassman, labeled "Dr. McGreedy" by the press, received Victoria Principal's Beverly Hills home and an estimated $25 million from Principal. Victoria Principal currently lives in Malibu, with homes in Utah and Switzerland.
She is training for her booked flight on Richard Branson's commercial space flight venture, and is scheduled to be one of the first female civilian astronauts in June 2010.