Stefanie Powers grew up in a predominantly Polish neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she was considered "one of the guys" in rigorous activities like baseball. At 18, she was signed on as a Columbia starlet, briefly billed as Taffy Paul. Her first film, the independently produced The Young Sinner, was not released until 1965, so her "official" debut -- as Stefanie Powers -- occurred in Tammy Tell Me True. Her skill at heavy dramatics was put to the test in Experiment in Terror (1962), a test which she passed with flying colors. By 1964, Powers was being aggressively promoted for stardom by Columbia, an effort that included a half-hour profile on the weekly TV series Hollywood and the Stars, which placed heavy emphasis on her fascination with and participation in the art of bullfighting. No matter how frivolous the film or TV project, Powers always approached her material in a "method" manner; while portraying British secret agent April Dancer on the 1966 TV series The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., she affected an English accent even while being interviewed. Despite this seeming self-absorption, Powers is known to be unfailingly generous and cooperative on the set -- though woe betide anyone who misspells her name "Powers." After several quick-cancellation disappointments, Powers finally landed in a hit TV series in 1979, when she teamed with Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart. She also starred in several TV movies, earning critical acclaim for her willingness to tackle meaty roles ranging from put-upon victims to calculating murderesses. Once married to actor Gary Lockwood, Powers spent most of the 1970s entwined in a relationship with William Holden; since his death, she has guided the destiny of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating a permanent Kenyan wildlife preserve (her bullfighting days long behind her, Ms. Powers has been a tireless advocate of animal rights). Stefanie Powers married for the second time -- though contrary to what some ill-informed fans may believe, she is not the wife of Robert Wagner, with whom she has continued to co-star in such projects as the popular two-person stage play Love Letters and the brief 1994 revival of Hart to Hart.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Began her acting career at 15 in a stage production of West Side Story, but was replaced when her age was discovered.
- Made her film debut in the 1961 comedy Tammy Tell Me True, under the name Taffy Paul.
- Took bullfighting lessons in Mexico in the early '60s.
- Helped establish the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Africa, and has served as its president since Holden's death in 1981.
- Reunited with her Hart to Hart co-star Robert Wagner in the early '90s for London and U.S. stage productions of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters.
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992.
- Has starred in a workout video and an instructional video on horseback riding.
- Released her debut CD, On the Same Page, in 2003.
- Works on species-survival programs at zoos in Atlanta and Cincinnati, among others.
- Speaks French, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Spanish and Swahili.