‘Bonanza’ Star Stefanie Powers’ Philosophy for Living Life to the Fullest

by Allison Hambrick

Bonanza actress Stefanie Powers opened up about her views on work, stardom, and how to live your best possible life.

“We must never, at any time, harbor an exalted opinion of ourselves, after all, we are only a little speck on the face of history,” Powers once explained. “But, while we’re here on this planet, life can be a great adventure, if we do not become too self-involved, and if we make the effort to expand our horizons.”

The actress first rose to prominence after starring as April Dancer in the Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Around that time, she made a number of guest appearances in popular series. Notably, she starred as western icon Calamity Jane in a 1963 episode of Bonanza. However, it wasn’t until she starred alongside Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart that she catapulted into stardom.

“Some people have a great misconception of me, that I’m somehow unique,” said the Bonanza star. “But I am not in any way exceptional. I am not an extraordinary person. What I do have is an extraordinary curiosity. I was born with it. From the first, I have wanted to know the world. I want to live in it, be of it, see and experience it, and grow.”

According to Powers, life is a balance of thrills and humility. Take risks, have fun, and don’t inflate your self-importance. As for her favorite hobby, she once said: “Nothing gives me a greater thrill than seeing or participating in a bullfight. It’s elemental and emotional. Some of the greatest experiences in my life have taken place when a matador dedicated a bull to me.

“I go along with the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu, who said, ‘To do is to be,’ and I am one who prefers ‘to do’ to everything else,” the Bonanza actress concluded.

Bonanza Actress Opens Up About Nearly Losing Major Role

While it’s difficult to imagine Hart to Hart with a different lead, Powers wasn’t the first choice for the part. She wasn’t an A-lister, and by the 1980s, her last major starring role was over a decade prior. Even so, costar Robert Wagner wanted her for the part.

“ABC didn’t want me,” Powers said. “They didn’t care for me. They wanted someone else. Well, I was not the most in-demand actress in town at the time.”

Even so, Wagner pushed for the studio to cast Powers and succeeded. For the actress, this was a huge departure from her previous work, not because of her character but because of her salary. Powers made 50,000 per episode for Hart to Hart, while she’d previously made $1,500 a week for the Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

Previously, the actress had limited “financial viabilities,” but both the fame and pay of Hart to Hart changed her life.

“I consider television to be my savior,” Powers once said. “Ten months of it will do my career more good than years of features.”