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In "Recipes for Life," Linda Evans serves up a wonderfully warm and candid memoir. Complete with over 40 recipes some handed down from her mom, some taught by famous pals like John Wayne and some inspired by her many travels. The 73-year-old "Dynasty" star chatted to FOX411 about her book and those drag down fights with Joan Collins.
FOX411: Tell us about the book.
Linda Evans: I decided to write the book because I had a lot to say. It began I was going through a depression and I think everyone that knew me, knew I had never been through anything like that and were looking to inspire me to get out of it by doing something creative and I highly recommend it because it puts your mind off what is going on in your life into something that excites you and makes you want to wake up.
FOX411: What brought on the depression?
Evans: I know exactly what brought it on. I'd come home from doing a play with Joan Collins for nine months traveling around the country to find out that my older sister had to have a stent put into her heart and was having difficulty, my best friend developed macular degeneration and could hardly see and also had heart failure and my youngest sister got stomach cancer which my father died of and all three of them went down at the same time and I just couldn't handle so many people close to me that I loved having such problems and I couldn't fix any of them. I've never experienced that kind of grief and that sense of powerlessness with people that I loved and it just threw me down. It was amazing because I'd never experienced anything like that because I'm the most up person I know.
FOX411: You are quite the cook!
Evans: Oh my gosh food is my passion. Food is love to me and to be able to give people I love their favorite thing they like to eat and cook it better than anybody else and make them smile is just everything. It's not a cookbook, it's a book about my memories that includes recipes because I couldn't exclude food in my life. It has a million photographs and recipes mixed in with my memories.
FOX411: Tell us about your mom's hotdog stew recipe.
Evans: The thing is when I was young, my father died when I was 15 and we didn't have a lot of money and mom was very clever in how she would cook and that's also why I wanted to do this book where it had recipes that were simple, not expensive and tasty as well as complex as well as expensive. So I've given something about everything I've learned about food for the last forty years. The hotdog stew recipe shocks people because when they actually make it and try and use fancy chicken hotdogs or you know the things that aren't old fashioned hotdogs, it has so much flavor when you put the tomatoes in it and the peppers and onions and everything, you can't believe it. You can't have any left over, people just adore it.
FOX411: You always asked people for recipes.
Evans: Are you kidding? If I loved the food, I was shameless, I wanted the recipe. John Wayne was a friend of my first husband and mine's and we used to go to Newport Beach and visit him and he had a boat we used to go on. His wife Pilar was a fantastic cook and he had one recipe in particular that he loved so much that when he would go on location, Pilar would write it down so that they the caterer on location could make it for him. It's shredded jack and chili cheese and eggs and tomatoes and it's beyond yum. I used to go to Tony Curtis' house and his wife Leslie was also a great cook. She made the best lemon souffle ever, ever, ever and of course I would not leave the house until she gave me the recipe.
FOX411: Did you always love cooking?
Evans: Not at all as a matter of fact that's what was so very strange. I did not start cooking... I was married and doing "Big Valley" when a friend of mine had us over for dinner and it was such an incredible meal and I wanted to reciprocate and I realized I didn't know how to cook anything, zero. Interestingly the first cookbook I ever bought was Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking." I made my first hollandaise, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Julia Child made something very complicated, very simple. This is an art!
FOX411: Barbara Stanwyck was your mentor.
Evans: How fortunate was I at 23 to get a TV series with a legend and then have her turn out to be such a beautiful human being and then decide she wanted to be my mom. My mom passed away during "Big Valley" and she said, 'I will never replace your mother but I will be your mom now' and she was there for me till the day she passed.
FOX411: What was the best piece of advice she gave you?
Evans: She taught me to be very professional in an industry where a lot of people take themselves too seriously and are late to work, don't know their lines, do things that are not professional and it has worked so well for me. During "Dynasty" I did a mini-series with Kenny Rogers called "The Gambler" and he searched far and wide because he'd worked with a very unprofessional actress and one of the reasons I got the part was not just by acting but because I was a professional.
FOX411: Don't you feel "Dynasty" was very specific to the culture then?
Evans: It was tailored to its time, the excess. It was wonderful in that way. You can't have too much money and your shoulder pads can never be too big. There were times when Joan (Collins) and I could not work through a door at the same time. We were too big!
FOX411: How real were those fights with Joan?
Evans: They couldn't be real, we would have closed the series down! Joan Collins was a friend of mine before "Dynasty." She used to come to my house for lunch.
FOX411: Did you realize the lily pond fight would become a classic?
Evans: Not at the time but it was based in response to what the audience wanted with that show that they did it every year after that.