|Linda Purl was born on September 2nd, 1955, in Greenwich, Connecticut, however she grew up in Japan, where the family had transferred because of her father's work. It was in Japan that she made her show business debut at the age of just seven years old and she appeared both on stage and television. Early stage appearances in Tokyo included A Day in the Life of Joe Egg and the role of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.
It appears that she returned to the USA to attend Finch College, where she trained for the stage with Maguerite Beale in 1970-71, followed by some time at the Lee Strasberg Institute in 1972-74.
The year 1972 saw her make her American film debut in a film called Jory. Since then she has appeared in a huge number of films, television mini-series and telemovies, and starred in a number of television series, as well as guest starring in many others. She has played a diverse range including a mentally retarded teenager in Like Normal People, as well as rape victims and psychotic killers and real life personalities such as Alice Roosevelt Longworth and journalist Nellie Bly. The two Young Pioneers telemovies saw Linda play a young pioneer wife struggling against the odds with her husband, and more recently, in Secrets she played a battered wife.
It was very early in Purl's career that she guest starred on The Waltons, firstly during season 3 in the episode "The Spoilers" where she interfered with John Boy writing his novel, and then again during season 5 when she appeared as Curt's younger sister Vanessa, who wanted nothing more than to become a singer, and seemed prepared to do anything to achieve her ambition, including breaking Jason's heart.
During the 1974-75 season of Happy Days, she played the recurring role of Richie Cunningham's girlfriend, the gum chewing Gloria, and then she returned to the Happy Days set in 1982 when she was seen as Ashley Pfister, the divorced mother who won Fonzie's heart. She has had recurring roles in other TV series including Matlock and Robin's Hoods.
During her first stint in Happy Days she became involved in improvising and writing a feature film with Ron Howard, Donny Most and Jim Rich. This feature film would eventually become Leo and Loree. It began as a weekend production, was abandoned for a time, then finally resurrected again when Ron Howard sold it to United Artists.
Other television appearances have included guest roles on Hawaii Five-O, Medical Center, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Murder She Wrote. Other telemovies have included The Last Days of Pompeii, A Last Cry For Help, Having Babies, The Night the City Screamed, Eleanor and Roosevelt and The Adventures of Nellie Bly.
Along with her many television appearances, Linda Purl has also appeared in a huge number of stage productions including several of Shakespeare's plays, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Hedda Gabler, and A Doll's House. This talented actress also sings and has been seen in musical productions such as The King and I, Oliver (both in Japan), and she had the role of Sandy in Grease in 1980. She also performs a night club act which tours throughout the world.
Linda has won several awards during her career including "Best Song", "Best Performance" at the Tokyo Music Festival in 1974 and a Robby Award in 1981 for her portrayal of Portia in The Merchant of Venice. She has also won the Best Actress Drama Logue award four times: in 1982 for The Man Who Could See Through Time (Ellen), in 1984 for Beyond Therapy (Prudence), in 1985 for Romeo and Juliet (Juliet) and in 1986 for The Real Thing (Annie).
Early in the 1980's, Linda was briefly married to Desi Arnez Jr. She is now married to screenwriter, Alexander Cary, and the couple have a two year old son. One of her most recent roles was in a movie called Absolute Truth which also starred Jane Seymour and William Devane.