Lynda Day George on love, life in the Northwest and her Oscar party

Lynda Day George on love, life in the Northwest and her Oscar party
Lynda Day George, star of the "Mission: Impossible!" television series and many other shows, is shown at her Gardiner home. Image by Diane Urbani de la Paz of Peninsula Daily News.
GARDINER, Wash. -- Lynda Day George, knockout blonde and star of "Mission: Impossible!" and numerous other television shows and movies, has a three-word beauty secret: "Stay in love."

The actress shares her home in Gardiner with her husband, Doug Cronin, who is clearly the object of her fierce admiration.

"He is heaven on wheels," she said of her spouse of 20 years.

But Day George's definition of love is even taller than he is.

"Stay in love with life, with people, with what you see," she said. "Even the hard things teach us so much."

Day George, at 67, has lived through the hard parts -- the stuff mixed in to a long and glamorous career in what she calls "the industry." She's retired from the big and small screens now, but wants to use her celebrity for a few chosen causes.

One is the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, for which she's the guest of honor at this Sunday's "Hollywood Nights" benefit at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles.

It's an Academy Awards-night party, and Day George said she was "blown away" by Best Picture nominee "Avatar," but she admits that she cannot stand the Oscar show.

"I have to tell you the truth," she said. "I don't care who wins."

Day George does care about Olympic Medical Center, and is looking forward to celebrating it together with other supporters Sunday night -- and to going out on a date with her husband in their 1939 Buick.

As for him, he's rooting for Sandra Bullock to win the Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side.

In the based-on-a-true-story picture, she plays a wealthy woman who adopts a homeless black boy. Under the care of Bullock and her husband, the boy, Michael Oher, thrives.

He plays college football and goes on to stardom with the Baltimore Ravens.

"My husband's in love with Sandra Bullock," Day George said, bathing Cronin in one of her frequent, fluorescent smiles.

That being said, The Blind Side is the kind of family-friendly movie Day George wants to see more of: a story of a couple who stepped outside their comfort zone to make a difference in the life of a young person.

Day George doesn't miss Hollywood, however. She began her career there at age 19 -- after working as a model for the Eileen Ford agency in New York City.

At age 12, Day George was first runner-up in the Miss Maryvale Parks Queen pageant. It was her first and last beauty pageant, and she wasn't crowned queen of the Phoenix, Ariz., suburb where she lived.

"But I definitely got the goodies," she said.

Day George went on to act on Broadway in 1965's "The Devils" with Jason Robards and Anne Bancroft; in movies such as Chisum with John Wayne; and in TV series from "The Fugitive" to "Bonanza" to "Rich Man, Poor Man" and "Roots."

During the making of Chisum in 1970 she fell in love with another cast member, Christopher George.

They were married that year, and co-starred in many TV movies over the next decade.

Christopher George died, at age 52, of a heart attack in 1983, and his widow cut back on her acting career, taking a few roles in shows such as "Fantasy Island" and "Murder, She Wrote."

Day George married Doug Cronin, who had been a friend of Christopher's, on March 17, 1990, and the couple began traveling from their home in Toluca Lake, Calif., to Gardiner, where Cronin's parents lived.

Day George and Cronin inherited the Gardiner house when his parents passed, and these days they spend about four months a year there.

Cronin's work in the aerospace industry keeps them in California the rest of the year, though they want to increase the time they're on the North Olympic Peninsula.

After so many years in cities, Day George revels in the natural world and the lushness.

"I adore all of the greens -- the wild variance of greens just feed my soul," she said.

Thinking back to a trip she made as a young woman, Day George likened the Peninsula's moist, voluptuous forests to those of South America.

"The first time I went to Brazil in 1963, I got off the plane, I stepped down to the tarmac, and it was like the country surged up to me," Day George recalled, adding that the Peninsula affected her in the same way.

This is a woman with presence, radiance, a flair for the dramatic -- and no desire to go back to movies.

"I've spent my life working, from 12 years old on. I really want this part of my life to be about life, not about working, not about glamor," she said.

"I want everything. I want to feel everything, touch everything, be a part of everything. I feel more alive now," than at any time posing or emoting for the camera.

"This place is so precious," she said of her home overlooking Discovery Bay. Day George has found people here to be refreshingly genuine: "They're not enclosed in a carapace," as city dwellers can be.

And the north Peninsula has "amazing resources," such as Olympic Medical Center. "If there's anything I can do to support it, I want to be part of it."

Tilting her head, eyes twinkling, Day George gave an invitation to Sunday's party.

"Come play with us," she said.

Peninsula Daily News is a media partner of KOMO News.