By Brian Scott Lipton . . .

Linda Purl has been a major part of American culture for 50 years, most notably through her television work in such series as The Secret Storm, Happy Days and Matlock. And while Purl continues to act regularly, her focus in recent years has been singing, delighting audiences on both coasts with her superb cabaret shows.

Her newest show, “This Could Be the Start…” debuts on Monday, January 23 at Birdland. In anticipation of the show, Theater Pizzazz spoke with Purl about its creation, how her interest in singing began and her work last year on daytime TV. We also got to hear from her life partner, acting legend Patrick Duffy, about the couple’s recent foray into business, “Duffy’s Dough.”

Hi, Linda. Let’s talk about the title of this show and what we can expect from it?

LP: My dear friend Deborah Grace Winer and I talked about a lot of themes, and what we landed on is the idea that due to Covid, time, distance and the many ways the world is changing, we’re faced with how we negotiate all of that and how we relaunch in 2023. But even with this idea, creating the song list was harder for me than with some other shows. So, Deb, my musical director Tedd Firth and I got together often to hash it out. What you’ll hear includes “This Could be the Start of Something Big,” “How High the Moon,” “Blue Moon,” and “Dream Dancing,” among others. In fact, I’m so happy with what we chose that as soon we finish the show, we’re going to record it for a CD.

Linda Purl with Tedd Firth

Let’s talk about your early exposure to music, especially the Great American Songbook?

LP: I was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, but my parents moved to Japan when I was very young. While we lived there, my parents had a turntable that was always on, and Broadway and jazz became the soundtrack of my childhood. Having American music with us was one of the ways they stayed connected to their life in the West, and when friends from the U.S. came to visit, they brought the latest records over.

You actually started your acting career in Japan, right?

LP: Yes, as a child I did a bunch of musicals in Japan, including The King and I and Oliver, and I even did some recording in Japan. So, when I moved to LA when I was 18, I was a little surprised there was no opportunity here for me to do music, just acting.

So, how did your cabaret career come about?

LP: I was introduced through mutual friends to Ron Abel and David Galligan, and they held my hand through my first cabaret act at the Gardenia. I like to say we just jumped off a cliff. It was terrifying; but it didn’t kill me. And what I soon discovered is, unlike acting, you have autonomy as a cabaret performer; you can just call a club and book a date. I also love the discipline of putting together a show and rehearsing — so over the decades, I’ve made it a more prominent part of my life.

You started your career on soap operas, and almost 50 years later, you came back to the genre: two episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful with Patrick, and a week’s worth of amazing work on General Hospital as the rich, nasty Southern doyenne Peyton Honeycutt. Can we talk about that?

LP: Usually, I have to audition for roles these days, but General Hospital just called and offered me this really well-written part. And anytime I get to use Southern accent is fun. Plus, it also helped that I was working mostly with Laura Wright, who is a truly great actress and wonderful scene partner. But I have to admit it was harder than I remembered. It’s wonderful, but it’s like being shot out of a cannon. When I did “Secret Storm,” they had teleprompters. On my first day on General Hospital, I had 23 pages of dialogue. I think Patrick and I have a renewed respect for what happens on soap operas; it takes a remarkable effort from a lot of people to run like a well-oiled machine. I would love to go back to GH, and I am pretty sure Patrick and I will be returning to B&B this season.

Linda Purl – Patrick Duffy

Patrick, thanks for joining us. Do you want to tell us a bit about Duffy’s Dough (

PD: After 40 years of knowing each other, we ended up in a relationship and we love being with each other. One day, I went over to Linda’s house and brought this sourdough starter that was a recipe from when my parents lived in Alaska in 1952. Anyway, one day, I offhandedly said it should be a business, but she was the one who turned it into a business. It’s the pure form of that same recipe, just dehydrated, and it comes in a kit. It’s amazing how people have responded to it — not just the dough, but the story and the history. Anyway, back in September, we made 200 kits and if we hadn’t sold them, then 200 of our friends and family would have had them as holiday gifts. Instead, we sold all 200 of them in just 24 hours. So we quickly ordered what we needed for 800 more kits and we sold out all of those. And now we’re getting ready for more orders! We’ll keep doing this – as long as it stays fun. I really feel the template for Duffy’s Dough is Paul Newman’s company, Newman’s Own. Ultimately, we’d like to take the net proceeds and turn them back to the community, whether for programs devoted to feeding the hungry or creating more community kitchens. In fact, I believe cooking together helps make a community!

Photos: Kevin Alvey (excluding photo of Purl/Duffy)