Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: . Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Dallas, Producer, Entrepreneur
Currently Known For:
Principal Secret (Skincare)
1972 - Present
January 3, 1950
Dallas, Producer, Entrepreneur
To view another celebrity please click the next celebrity button below or read the full article by scrolling further below.
You could say that Victoria Principal was ahead of her time in her decision to focus her career largely in television. In the 1970s, television was what you did before getting into film, and going from movies to TV was seen as a step down. Victoria Principal, on the other hand, saw longevity, job security and a wider variety of roles in the small-screen format. Today this has become the norm. Actors don't want to land that big movie part, anymore, they want their own TV series, something that really lets them take a character on a journey, and Victoria Principal had just that in the hit TV show Dallas (1978-82).
Air Force Brat
Born in Fukuoaka, Japan to Sergeant Victor Rocco Principal on January 3, 1950, Victoria (then Vicki Ree) Principal only lived in Japan for a few months, and then in London, for a few months, and then Puerto Rico, for a few months. As the daughter of a US Air Force officer, Vicki did a whole lot of traveling, attending seventeen schools in her youth, and seeing more of the world in her first few years than most of us do in a lifetime, even studying at the Royal Ballet School during her time in England.
At five years old, Vicki got her start in acting with appearances in a handful of TV commercials. She wasn't too interested in pursuing this as a career, however, and would enroll at Miami-Dade Community College to study medicine in 1968. Unfortunately, she suffered a serious car accident that would delay her academic hopes.
While recuperating from the accident, Vicki had some time to contemplate her life and her future, and decided that, if you only live once, then she was going to make the most of it. She quit school and moved to New York, and then to Europe where she trained with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art professor Jean Scott, before finally settling in LA to start hitting up the audition scene.
The Life And Times
Principal arrived in Hollywood in 1970, and had a part in John Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) almost right away. And with her very first major role, she won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. She owed this in part to writer John Milius, who had original written her character as a bit part, but expanded it after seeing just what Principal could do with the character.
Even with such a tremendous debut, Victoria wasn't entirely sold on the idea of becoming an actress full-time. As easily as success can come to you in stardom, it can just as easily be snatched away, and today's most promising newcomer might be tomorrow's "whatever happened to them?" So by the mid-1970s Principal was working primarily as a talent agent and was considering studying law. This would allow her to work in show business, but her success wouldn't be so dependent on the likes and dislikes of a fickle public. But you can't keep a great actress away from the screen forever, and by 1977 she was back in front of the camera for the pilot of Fantasy Island (1977). Still, she wasn't quite ready to let go of her other career goals, and her roles around this time were relatively few and far between for an actress who had the ability to pick and choose her own projects as she pleased. In fact, she only accepted Fantasy Island on the grounds that she not be made a series regular.
It wasn't until she read a script for Dallas that she really decided to devote herself to acting. In The role of Pamela Barnes Ewing just spoke to Principal. She was sent the script in her capacity as a talent agent, but when she read it, she knew she had to have it. She called the casting director and told them she was sending someone, only to show up herself to read for the part. She was perfect for the role, and she had developed a strong sense of what made a hit.
"I believed that Dallas would be a hit from the moment I read it."
Principal had made the right call. Dallas would go on to become one of the most popular shows of all time over the course of Victoria's nine-year run on the series. Some actresses leave a popular show only because they feel they've grown too big for it. Principal loved Dallas, but felt that her character's arc had come to a natural close, and it was time to move on.
In 1987, Principal founded her own production company, Victoria Principal Productions, and made appearances on shows like Home Improvement (1994) and Family Guy (1999-2001) playing Pamela Ewing. She became a series regular on Titans (2000-2001) but over teh last two decades has generally focused on her work as an entrepreneur. Though she did eventually have that academic career, being given an honorary law degree by the University of West LA School of Law, and an honorary degree in business from Drexel University, where she gave the commencement address in 2004.
"No one can make me work harder than I do, so I'm generally not interested in who I am competing with."