is an American actress, best known for her role as Pamela Barnes Ewing on the CBS nighttime drama Dallas from 1978 to 1987.
Early lifeVictoria Principal was born in Fukuoka, Japan, the eldest daughter of United States Air Force sergeant Victor Principal, after whom she was named and who was then stationed in Fukuoka. Her paternal grandparents were immigrants from Italy; her mother, was born in Georgia and was of English descent.[Because her father was in the US military, they moved often; she grew up in London, Puerto Rico, Florida, Massachusetts, and Georgia, among other places. She attended 17 different schools, including studying at the Royal Academy of Ballet while her family was stationed in England.
Principal acted in her first TV commercial when five, and enjoyed a successful career in commercials. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College, intending to study medicine. But months before completing her first year of studies, she was seriously injured in a car crash while driving home from the library. The other driver was convicted of drunk driving and served jail time. Principal spent months in recovery and was faced with the prospect of having to take her first year of studies over again. After a period of serious introspection, she drastically changed her life by moving to New York to pursue her acting career, and shortly thereafter to Europe. While living in London, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and then in 1971, she moved to Los Angeles.
Personal lifePrincipal met Christopher Skinner in 1978 when he played a bit role on Dallas. Soon after, they married, but divorced in 1980. She dated teen idol Andy Gibb after meeting him on The John Davidson Show in 1981. The two hit it off immediately, and she sang a duet with Gibb. A year later, she gave him an ultimatum, "Choose me, or choose drugs"; Principal split with Gibb in March 1982.
Victoria remarried in 1985 and divorced after 21 years in 2006.
Subsequently, Principal moved to Malibu. She maintains other homes in Big Sur, California, and Switzerland.
In 2006 Principal formed a charitable organization to help subsidize the environmental movement, which she had been a part of since 1978.
In 2007 it was reported that she was training for her booked flight on Richard Branson's commercial space flight venture. Principal and Branson flew to New Mexico and held a joint world-wide press conference on the space center to be built in New Mexico.
In 2008 Principal quietly stepped up to aid those in need after the California wildfires.
On June 2, 2010, Principal donated $200,000 to the cleanup effort in the Gulf Coast region. Principal's donation brought together two huge environmental non-profits, Oceana and NRDC, to work together on the cleanup.
Principal appeared with other celebrities June 21, 2010 on a CNN Larry King sponsored Telethon to support the Gulf Coast Region. Victoria was on a panel with Larry and also answered phones and spoke to donors for the entire two hours. The telethon raised over $1.8 million in just two hours.
Principal was honored at the opening of Legacy Park in Malibu on October 2. Principal was a founding member of the park in 2004, and was honored at the opening for helping get the 15 acre park off of Pacific Coast Highway off the ground.
ActingIn 1970, Principal moved to Hollywood. She had no money, no car, no agent, and no prior television or movie making experiences beside the commercials she had made in her teenage years. She supported herself by teaching backgammon, which she had learned while living in London, that was becoming a popular game played by many in Hollywood. Nine months later Principal had a car, an agent, still little money but auditioned and won her first film role, as Marie Elena, a Mexican mistress in Paul Newman's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), for which she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Most Promising Newcomer. Because of the response to Principal's footage in the film, the role was enlarged on a daily basis by the writer, John Milius. Producers, agents, and other interested parties began showing up at the remote location in Benson, Arizona. For the most part they were showing up to sign Principal to her next film. During this period of time Warren Cowan flew in, introduced himself to Principal, and offered to represent her free of charge for the next year. Principal has been a client of Rogers & Cowan ever since. She flew to Arizona a complete unknown; when she returned to Los Angeles three months later, the commercial flight she was on was greeted by throngs of paparazzi. Subsequently, she appeared in The Naked Ape (1973) with Johnny Crawford and appeared nude in Playboy magazine to promote the film. The film's failure disappointed her.
In 1974, she was cast in the disaster film Earthquake. Although the role had been narrowed down to three actresses, Principal won the role when she showed up for the third audition having cut off her waist-length brown hair, dyed it black, and put it into an afro. The producer was stunned and impressed by Principal's risky transformation in order to look more closely like the Italian character Rosa. Principal won the part in that moment. She continued to act in lesser-known films such as I Will, I Will... for Now and Vigilante Force with Kris Kristofferson. She was given a three-picture deal with Brute Productions. However, Principal decided to stop acting and became an agent, which was her profession from 1975 to late 1977.
In 1977, Aaron Spelling offered her a role in the pilot of his television series Fantasy Island, which she accepted. Soon after, in 1978, she landed her most famous role, playing Pamela Barnes Ewing in the evening soap opera television series Dallas. In 1983, she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Best Actress in a Television Series for her role in Dallas.
After nine years, Principal left Dallas in 1987. She went on to star in various made-for-television movies such as Mistress, Blind Witness, Naked Lie, Sparks: The Price of Passion, and Don't Touch My Daughter, a few of which she co-produced. In 1994, she appeared in an episode of the hit sitcom Home Improvement.
Principal returned to primetime soap operas in 2000, when she appeared in another Aaron Spelling production, the short-lived NBC television series Titans.
EntrepreneurWhen Principal signed her Dallas contract, she omitted the clause that would have given the network the right to consent and profit from her outside endeavors. She explained, "As a result that’s why, you can only notice in hindsight, I was the only person in the cast who did commercials, who was doing movies of the week, who wrote books and these all belong to me. I retained the control and ownership of my image. No one owns me."
When she left the show in 1987, she began her own production company, Victoria Principal Productions, producing mostly movies for television. In the mid-1980s, she became interested in natural beauty therapies and in 1989 she created a self-named line of skin care products, Principal Secret, which has amassed over $1billion in sales to date. In 1995, she was named "Entertainment Business Woman of the Year" by the National Association of Women Business Owners and received an honorary degree from Drexel University's Business School. In 2003, Principal became a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
In January 2011, Principal launched a line of jewelry called Keys & Hearts available on the same site as her skin care line Principal Secret.
In addition, she became a best-selling author, writing three books about beauty, skin care, and health: The Body Principal (1983), The Beauty Principal (1984), and The Diet Principal (1987). She published a fourth book, Living Principal, in 2001.