Stephanie Zimbalist went to a state dinner at the White House not long ago. Her date was no star, prince or potentate. It was her married half brother, Skip. “I thought I’d meet somebody exciting there,” she sighs. “It was wonderful company, but everyone was there with a mate, except Stefanie Powers. I’m sure she was hoping the same thing.” No luck.
Stephanie Zimbalist, the beautiful, befreckled star of Remington Steele, daughter of Efrem Zimbalist Jr., sweet and sophisticated at 28, the kind of woman any man would love to take home to mother, has no boyfriend. Believe it or not, “I’ve never met anyone who has convinced me to say, ‘No, I’m not gonna take the next Spielberg film, I think I’ll stay here and have a baby,’ ” she says. “I’ve never met anyone of that caliber.”
She has, of course, tried. Stephanie came close with rock composer Tony Berg. “But he is married now and has a child,” she says. Then there was Gregory (Trapper John, M.D.) Harrison, a frequent co-star. “It was pretty much a flash in the pan,” she says. “We had a romance going when we did Centennial. Our friendship is very solid, but our romantic thing was pffft.”
The nice thing about Stephanie is that she doesn’t whine about being alone. “I’m never going to be the woman behind the man,” she promises. “I will never get married to the head of General Motors. I will never be the wife of a superstar. For those women, their lives are somebody else’s…I will never be a ‘Mrs. Blabidyblah!’ ”
Stephanie is, nonetheless, a homebody in an odd sort of home for a star: a two-bedroom bungalow in L.A.’s unfashionable Studio City, with peeling green paint that’s just being replaced and no central air-conditioning. “I’m more interested in life than life-style,” she says. “Life-style means you have to drive a certain car. I drive a 1979 Volkswagen diesel, and that’s why I drive one on the show.” She invests her money—around $20,000 per episode—in real estate and also saves it to one day make her own shows. Stephanie and childhood best buddy Robin Bernheim recently wrote a script for Remington (that still hasn’t aired). Someday they hope to produce TV movies. Stephanie is a professional woman and proud of it. “When I do interviews, I like to talk about that,” she says. “You would think the women’s magazines would want that, but all they want to know is my bra size.” To her, TV is just a job. “I want to live the way I live,” she says, “so I can go back to who I was before all this happened.”
“This” is Remington, a three-season success that every week has Zimbalist and co-star Pierce Brosnan solving crimes and almost falling in love or into bed. There have been rumors of strain between them. “I wouldn’t say our relationship is always smooth sailing,” says Brosnan. But Zimbalist says reports of rancor have been exaggerated. “In a fun sort of way, this publicizing of some feud has brought us closer together,” she says. “I think it had to do with shooting an episode last season at a school. The students swarmed around him, and I’m walking along and feeling like yesterday’s lunch. I was saying that was hard to deal with sometimes and he said, ‘Stephanie, you can go for it! All you have to do is play sexy.’ It was a nice chat, but the tabloids took it and made it out that I was jealous. I’m not jealous.”
Her dad, Efrem Jr. of FBI fame, doesn’t think that Stephanie got her series because she can play sexy. What dad would? She got it, he says, “because she came from an extraordinary range of parts. She’s been blind, she’s been one-legged, she was killed by a snake, she was a murderess and she once had a test-tube baby.”
Stephanie is close to her family: mother Stephanie; half sister Nancy, 40; half brother Skip, 37; and grandfather Efrem (Sr.), a classical musician of considerable repute. Ask Stephanie what kind of man she does want, and she’ll tell you about Skip. “I think I want a clone of my brother,” she says. “He’s the greatest guy.” As a family, the Zimbalists are very…very straight. “My father was largely responsible for that,” says Efrem Jr. “He set a wonderful example for all of us. He had a long, honorable career. But the adulation meant nothing to him.”
Efrem (Sr.), now 94, lives in Reno, Nev. “My grandfather,” says Stephanie, “is the greatest man I’ll ever know. I adore him…. Every Tuesday night at 10, he turns on the show and watches me. He takes a nap during the day so he can stay up and watch.” She’s the kind of young woman any grandfather would be proud of. Any man at all.