December 15th, 2014
Vintage reprint from 1988
When move and television star Linda Cristal recently made her daytime debut on “General Hospital,” it was touted as her big comeback. But Cristal, who plays Dimitra, the mistress of crime bass Victor Jerome (played by jack Axelrod), says it’s actually the fourth time she’s come out of “retirement” since she began her career.
“I’m like the bullfighters and boxers who keep making comebacks,” jokes Cristal, who was the lone female star of the 1967-71 TV series “High Chaparral.”
An actress since age 13, Cristal (who was born in Argentina) dropped out of the national spotlight for nearly a decade after “High Chaparral” left the airwaves. She went on to carve out a successful career in real estate and also started an import-export business. But Cristal found that she missed the acting life so much that she wanted to regenerate her on-camera career. Soon after, she landed a one-year contract with “GH.”
“While I was quote-unquote ‘retired,’ I asked myself, ‘Who am I fooling?’ Acting is my favorite occupation,” declares Cristal, who has done soaps in her native Argentina and Mexico. “I really wanted to work again and I would have done anything to get this job on ‘General Hospital.’ I was so excited when I got the role that I couldn’t sleep! It’s a wonderful opportunity.
Twice divorced and the mother of two grown sons, Jordan and Greg, Cristal says it’s a challenge to play Dimitra because she loves mobster Victor Jerome unconditionally – despite the fact that he’s never married her in their 20 years together.
“Dimitra is more in love and more trusting than I’m able to be,” Cristal admits. “Because I’ve been touched by life and she hasn’t, I’m ore suspicious. I wish I could trust a man and be as devoted as Dimitra, but I can’t be, so I enjoy playing someone who is.”
Since victor has a heart condition that could kill him, there’s a good chance that Dimitra might eventually be left behind to fend for herself. If that happens, Cristal hopes it won’t spell the end of her character’s story line.
“If something happens to victor, I would like to see Dimitra rebuild her life,” offers Cristal. “I don’t want her to end p alone. I’d have Dimitra fall for someone closer to her in age and they’d have a fantastic romance. I want Dimitra to have a chance at life.”
As for love and romance in her own life, Cristal insists she’s happy living alone, but doesn’t completely rule out a third trip down the aisle.
“I enjoy being single,” she says. “I’m so busy that I don’t have a lot of time to spend with someone. More than likely, I won’t remarry, but I don’t say never, because that doesn’t exist, just like forever doesn’t exist.
“I haven’t found anyone special, even when I’ve looked with a microscope!” Christal quips. But she adds seriously, “love is the most exhilarating thing in the world. A bad relationship can tear you apart like a cat. It’s like being on a plane with a drunken pilot – a collision course! Romantic love is for the inexperienced. My love is my work.”
Cristal, who won three golden Globe Awards for her role on “High Chaparral and was twice nominated for an Emmy, wrote a semi-autobiographical story about child abuse 10 years ago. She is now in the midst of trying to finally get it published. A veteran of 35 motion pictures, including “The Alamo” with John Wayne and “Mr. Majestyk” with Charles Bronson, Cristal hopes one day to return to the big screen – perhaps in a movie version of her story. She also has aspirations to direct.
“I’m a total workaholic who likes being involved in a thousand things,” reveals Cristal. “More than anything else, though, I love to act. I want to die acting!”