Linda Cristal, Actress on 'The High Chaparral,' Dies at 89

NBC/Photofest
Linda Cristal in 'The High Chaparral'

The Buenos Aires-born star also appeared on the big screen in 'The Alamo,' 'Two Rode Together' and 'Mr. Majestyk.'

Linda Cristal, the Golden Globe-winning actress who portrayed Victoria Cannon, the wife of Leif Erickson's character, on the 1967-71 NBC Western The High Chaparral, has died. She was 89.

Cristal died Saturday at her home in Beverly Hills, her son Jordan Wexler told The New York Times.

On the big screen, Cristal appeared with Jock Mahoney in The Last of the Fast Guns (1958), with John Wayne in The Alamo (1960), with James Stewart in John Ford's Two Rode Together (1961) and with Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk (1974).

In 1959, she won her first Golden Globe — as most promising newcomer (female) — for her turn as an Argentine beauty who takes a trip to Paris with Tony Curtis' character in the comedy The Perfect Furlough (1958), directed by Blake Edwards.

According to her 2019 memoir, A Life Unexpected, Cristal read about a new series being shot called The High Chaparral one morning in The Hollywood Reporter and barged into a meeting of studio execs led by David Dortort, creator of the show (as well as Bonanza). 

She went on to appear on 96 episodes of The High Chaparral as the strong-willed daughter of a powerful Mexican rancher and young wife of Erickson's "Big John" Cannon. She was nominated for two Globes, winning in 1970, and two Emmys, for her performance.

Marta Victoria Moya was born in Buenos Aires on Feb. 23, 1931, and raised in Uruguay. When she was 13, her parents died of carbon monoxide poisoning while in their car. She appeared in several Mexican films before working alongside Dana Andrews in Comanche (1956).

Her résumé also included the films The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) and Panic in the City (1968), a run on the soap opera General Hospital and guest-starring stints on such TV shows as RawhideBonanzaVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaBarnaby Jones and Fantasy Island.

She was married to industrialist Robert W. Champion, half-brother of dancer Gower Champion, from 1958-59 and to actor Yale Wexler, with whom she had sons Gregory and Jordan, from 1960-66.