Once a Shrinking Violet, Heather Locklear Blossoms into Dynasty's Passion Flower

updated 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Young, aspiring blond actresses may be as common in Hollywood as backyard hot tubs, but that has hardly proven a stumbling block for Heather Locklear. Only 21, she has managed to show off her versatility as well as her voluptuousness in a prime-time TV assault that began last season with a 13-week stint on Dynasty as Sammy Jo, the scheming wife of Blake Carrington's black sheep son, Steven. Last fall she reversed type to play the peaches 'n' cream police trainee opposite William Shatner in ABC's T.J. Hooker, which despite middling ratings has been picked up for a full season. And then the Jan. 12 episode of Dynasty featured the return of—you guessed it—Sammy Jo, bearing Steven's infant son in her arms and a malicious gleam in her eye.

For Heather, who now finds herself yo-yoing each week between the shows, playing total opposites is "pretty scary." She feels closest to T.J. Hooker's Stacy Sheridan, bridling at the suggestion that the character is nothing more than standard cheesecake. "I suppose there's a certain amount of window dressing," she allows grudgingly. "But Stacy isn't really dumb. I can be myself with her." More challenging is the role of Sammy Jo, who is currently gearing up for a series of vicious confrontations on Dynasty with Alexis (Joan Collins).

"There must be a little bit of me in Sammy, I suppose," admits Heather, "but I've never been nasty to people the way she is." A recent tippling scene also was a reach. "How do you act drunk, for heaven's sake, when you've never been? I mean, do you slobber, or stutter, or what?" demands Heather, who, in fact, downed only one drink—a glass of champagne—to celebrate her birthday last September.

She is equally temperate in her personal life. "I need to find out more about myself before I commit myself," says Heather, who was briefly engaged but "broke it off by mutual agreement. I would have been a married little girl." Though she has been linked romantically to both Tom Cruise (Timothy Hutton's co-star in Taps) and Andrew Stevens (Kate Jackson's ex-husband), she insists that both are merely "good friends."

Heather was born and raised in Los Angeles, where her father is director of the registrar's office at UCLA. Acting didn't come naturally to her. "I was always shy—somebody had to make the first move," she recalls. She was also, surprisingly, something of a wallflower. "I had crooked teeth and was stick-thin," she explains with a laugh. But by her second year at UCLA her string-bean days were over. She began landing roles in TV commercials and dropped out of college after a year and a quarter to pursue acting full-time. Her first TV series appearance was in CHiPs, followed within a year by her successful audition, against 450 others, for Dynasty.

Financially secure from her TV twin bill, Heather just purchased a new four-bedroom Tarzana, Calif. home offering a commanding view of the San Fernando lowlands. She stays there with David Blatt, 28, a friend ("I live in my end, he lives in his") whom she's known since high school, and drives a 1982 silver-and-black Datsun 280-ZX. She likes bikes and the beach, but as for cooking, she says, "My kitchen has never been used, and it will stay that way for 20 years."

Heather's main interest now is in "getting a little more confidence." In some ways, she already has it. "Back in high school I could never get up in front of the class," she recalls. "My heart pounded so badly, you could see my blouse move. Now I realize it's being yourself that's hard. Being someone else is so much easier."

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