Connecticut native Linda Purl grew up in Japan, where her father, a Union Carbide executive, had been transferred. Under the watchful eye of her mother, a former ballerina, Purl began acting professionally in Japanese stage and TV productions at the age of seven. Ten years later, she made her American film debut in Jory (1972). Never a conventional ingenue, she has played everything from mentally retarded teens to rape victims to psychotic killers, as well as a few real-life personalities like Alice Roosevelt Longworth and globetrotting journalist Nellie Bly. Purl has the distinction of playing two different recurring characters on the same television series. During the 1974-75 season of Happy Days, she was seen as Richie Cunningham's (Ron Howard) high-school girlfriend Gloria; she returned to the series in 1982 as Ashler Pfister, a divorced mother with whom Fonzie (Henry Winkler) was briefly involved romantically. Linda has also appeared regularly on such series as The Secret Storm and Beacon Hill; more recently, she played an assistant DA put in charge of a group of young ex-convicts on the syndicated weekly adventure series Robin's Hoods (1994). Linda Purl was at one time married to Desi Arnaz Jr..
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Was raised in Japan and was the only foreigner to have trained at the Toho Geino Academy.
- Also trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Lee Strasberg Institute.
- Recorded jazz albums, including Out of This World, which featured a song with her ex-husband Desi Arnaz Jr.
- Played two different characters on Happy Days: Richie's girlfriend Gloria in season 2, and Fonzie's girlfriend Ashley Pfister in season 10.
- Appeared on Broadway in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Getting and Spending.
- Founded the California International Theatre Festival.