Born in Manhattan and raised in Los Angeles, Stephanie grew up swimming, riding, playing tennis, dancing, diving, clowning around, doing chores, and living the normal life of a tomboy in the great expanse of the San Fernando Valley. As a very young amateur theatrical entrepreneur, she produced, wrote, and directed pieces in her little bedroom hallway, in the stable, and on neighbors’ fireplace hearths, earning her the title, “the boss”.
But Stephanie’s abiding love of theater was kindled at Brown Ledge Camp in Mallett’s Bay, Vermont, where she acted, sang, and was nurtured in theater craft for six summers. Friends she made there count among her friends today.
Eager to get on with it, she created her own independent project in her senior year at Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia: she returned to Los Angeles to study acting, movement, voice, tap and ballet. After graduating cum laude from high school, Stephanie’s ambitions led her to choose a professional drama school over university, and she spent a challenging time in New York “getting a dose of it”.
Returning to Los Angeles once again, she worked for her brother and sister-in-law’s company, “Correia Art Glass”, while she made the audition rounds. In time, she gave up packing glass to star in television movies, among them the Emmy Award-winning The Gathering (1977), Centennial (1978), The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story (1980) and Tomorrow’s Child (1982), along with the occasional guest series role. After several such projects and two feature films – The Magic of Lassie (1978), with James Stewart, and The Awakening (1980), with Charlton Heston – Stephanie was offered the role of “Laura Holt” in the MTM series, Remington Steele (1982), which she played for five years with Pierce Brosnan and Doris Roberts on NBC. She appeared as Caroline? (1990) for Hallmark on CBS, which won three Emmys and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Subsequently, Stephanie starred in The Story Lady (1991) with Jessica Tandy, Incident in a Small Town (1994) for CBS with Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan, and Stop the World, I Want to Get Off (1996), the musical, on A&E, to name a few of her more than thirty television movie appearances.
Stephanie starred in Lifetime Television’s 50th movie, Prison of Secrets (1997), followed by an episode of Touched by an Angel (1994), their highest-rated show to that date. She was happy to be back in the saddle, in Ventura and Ojai, no less, filming an independent movie with Dennis Hopper called The Prophet’s Game (2000), followed by Borderline Normal (2001) in Saskatchewan, Malpractice (2001) in New Orleans, and another Touched by an Angel (1994). More recently, she spent a happy time guesting on Crossing Jordan (2001).
Striving for excellence has always been very important to Stephanie, partly due to the standards set by her illustrious family. Alma Gluck, her grandmother, was one of the great sopranos of her day. Efrem Zimbalist Sr., her beloved grandfather, was a celebrated violinist, composer, and gifted teacher and director of the Curtis Institute of Music. Her aunt, Marcia Davenport, was a brilliant historical writer and novelist. Her wonderful father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., is a prize-winning Broadway producer (Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul”, “The Medium” and “The Telephone”), gifted composer, and celebrated actor (77 Sunset Strip (1958), The F.B.I. (1965), and many movies). His stunning “Violin Sonata” has been performed at several summer concert series. Her brother Efrem (“Skip”) and his company, “Active Interest Media”, publish several magazines.
After debuting on stage in the musical “Festival” in 1979 at the Las Palmas Theater in Los Angeles with Gregory Harrison and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Stephanie appeared as “Miranda” in “The Tempest” with Anthony Hopkins and Brent Carver at the Mark Taper Forum. Other theater includes “The Cherry Orchard” at the Long Wharf Theater, “Summer and Smoke” and “Barbarians” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the national tour of “My One And Only” with Tommy Tune. In 1989, she initiated a play to be written for her and Linda Purl, and directed by Jenny Sullivan – “The Baby Dance” by Jane Anderson – which they produced and starred in at the Pasadena Playhouse. The production moved to Williamstown and Long Wharf, and culminated in a critically-acclaimed run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York City. She played “Polly Peacham” in “The Threepenny Opera” with Betty Buckley at Williamstown, and had a wonderful time with “Tracy Lord” in “The Philadelphia Story” at the Cleveland PlayHouse. In 1994, Stephanie took on the double roles of an Irish peasant and a New Bedford fisherman’s wife in the original production of “The Crimson Thread” in Connecticut (which she co-produced), and the Pasadena Playhouse. A second tread on the L.A. boards under Jenny Sullivan’s direction was the hilarious, tour de force turn as a nail-spitting media barracuda in the West Coast premiere of “AdWars” with the wonderful David Dukes (R.I.P.).
At L.A.’s Coronet Theater for many months, Stephanie kicked up a lot of sand as the lovable dog in A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia”. In 1998, she starred in the world premiere of Jane Martin’s “Mr. Bundy” at the Humana Festival of Actors Theatre of Louisville, and happily played opposite Lucie Arnaz in “Wonderful Town” for the Reprise! series in L.A. Stephanie was thrilled to be reunited with her dear “Baby Dance” friends, John Bennett Perry and Jenny Sullivan for the Rubicon Theatre’s award-winning, double run of “The Rainmaker”. A dream came true, tackling the towering role of “Terry” in Warren Leight’s knockout “Side Man” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, followed by a tour of “Accomplice” on the east coast (after a month’s holiday in London, St. Petersberg, Moscow, Rostov [birthplace of her grandfather, Efrem Zimbalist Sr.], Istanbul, Athens, and sailing the Dodecanes!). For several springs now, Stephanie has opened the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival with a reading of one of his plays at their Gala event – she’s happily shared those boards with Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Ashley, John Goodman, Patricia Neal, Linda Hart, and the charming Rex Reed. Having worked in New Orleans with the Festival and in Malpractice (2001) and made friends in Nola, the recent tragedies there hit especially hard.
Stephanie had another dream come true, to play “Varya” in “The Cherry Orchard”, with the added thrill of playing opposite one of her acting heroes, the amazing and delightful Alfred Molina. Recently, she played “Ursula” in Nicholas Wright’s wonderful play, “Vincent in Brixton”, at the Pasadena Playhouse. Also at the Rubicon Theatre, she’s played in Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa”, Jane Anderson’s “Defying Gravity”, and trod the boards with her father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., for the first time, in Tennessee Williams’s “The Night of the Iguana”.
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