Birthplace: New York City
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Remington Steele
Stephanie Zimbalist comes from a long-time famous family. Her grandparents were violin virtuoso Efrem Zimbalist and turn-of-the-19th-century opera superstar Alma Gluck. Her father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., starred in TV's 77 Sunset Strip and The FBI. Her aunt was novelist Marcia Davenport (The Valley of Decision).
She graduated from a Virginia boarding school, and studied drama at Juilliard for one year before being discreetly expelled. School officials said her life had been "perhaps too sheltered", and suggested she take at least a year off to gain a more seasoned perspective. Devastated, Zimbalist spent the next few months "meandering and drifting", and filmed a pilot for a sitcom with her father, Second Time Around. The premise, borrowed from a successful British sitcom of the same title, had the elder Zimbalist as a middle-aged man whose second wife is younger than his daughter (Zimbalist), but the pilot episode was deemed distasteful and an American series was never made.
In her first TV movie, Zimbalist played a long-lost kidnap victim in Nobody's Child. She appeared in the major miniseries Centennial with Richard Chamberlain, and she had a small role as Jimmy Stewart's kin in the tedious The Magic of Lassie, her first of very few theatrical films.
After several more TV movies, she was offered the role of Laura Holt in Remington Steele in 1982, but told her agent she was not interested in doing a series. Three days later she changed her mind, called her agent again, and was relieved to learn that her initial disinterest had not been relayed to the program's producers. On Remington Steele, Zimbalist played a detective who had invented a man's name for her agency to draw clients who might not otherwise hire a woman. Pierce Brosnan played the handsome, annoying, and mysterious man who came from nowhere pretending to be Holt's imagined boss, Remington Steele. With well-scripted sparring between the two leads, Remington Steele was a hit. By all accounts the two stars truly did not like each other, which made their on-screen bickering more enjoyable.
In 1986, NBC announced its fall schedule without Remington Steele, and both stars lined up other work. Zimbalist agreed to star in Robocop, and Brosnan was ready to play James Bond in The Living Daylights. But in July 1986, NBC announced that Remington Steele would return after all, and both actors, under contract, had to abandon their movie roles. RoboCop went to Nancy Allen, and Timothy Dalton became Bond. Brosnan played 007 several years later, but Zimbalist has long felt that NBC's last-minute renewal torpedoed her movie career.
Over the next decade Zimbalist worked only in TV movies and stage plays. Now middle-aged, she rarely appears on television, but still earns a comfortable living as a stage actress. She has also read several books-on-tape, including Confucius in the Boardroom. Zimbalist has long been a supporter of conservative causes and Republican candidates, and says she hates the term "Ms." During her brief TV stardom, she once said that a weekend at home grouting her sink would be more enjoyable than Hollywood schmoozing.
Father: Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (actor, b. 30-Nov-1918)
Mother: (East Coast socialite, m. 1956, div. 1962, remarried 1962, one daughter)
Sister: Nancy Zimbalist (half-sister, daughter of Efrem Zimbalist Jr and his first wife, Emily McNair)
Brother: Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III (half-brother, son of Efrem Zimbalist Jr and McNair, CEO Active Interest Media)
Boyfriend: Peter Medak (TV director, House, b. 1937, dating as of early 00s)
High School: Foxcroft High School, Middleburg, VA
University: The Juilliard School (expelled after one year)
Expelled from School
Risk Factors: Vegetarian, Smoking
Remington Steele Laura Holt (1982-87)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Borderline Normal (2000)
The Prophet's Game (1999)
Dead Ahead (17-Apr-1996)
Voices from Within (10-Oct-1994)
Incident in a Small Town (23-Jan-1994)
Man in the Brown Suit (4-Jan-1989)
A Letter to Three Wives (16-Dec-1985)
The Awakening (17-Jan-1981)
The Babysitter (28-Nov-1980)
The Magic of Lassie (2-Aug-1978)
The Gathering (4-Dec-1977)
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