The Toronto Star

Saturday, November 8, 1986

Written by Eirik Knutzen

Quote: "Getting all the breaks, she may be a bit of a klutz in real life, but lovely Stepfanie Kramer has gracefully risen to TV stardom in the hit series Hunter

"Heaven help anybody that breaks into my home," says Stepfanie Kramer, a sweet and ultra-feminine young lady who keeps a 9 mm Baretta automatic pistol in her San Fernando Valley hillside home for self-protection. "I don't ever want to be in the position of having to use it, but if I have to, I will."

It's not an idle threat, according to the slim, 5-foot-6 brunette who earns a living portraying the no-nonsense Det. Sgt. Dee Dee McCall opposite 6-foot-6 ex-footballer Fred Dryer in the NBC series Hunter.

Not only is Kramer potentially lethal, but she is tough. She stepped off a curb in Sydney, Australia last April and broke her right foot in two places. It happened on the last day of a one-month promotion tour for Hunter that had kicked-off in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The freak mishap hardly slowed Kramer down.  "I knew the foot was in bad shape, so I kept the tennis shoe on and kept shopping for an hour or so.  When we got on the plane for home that afternoon, the flight attendants helped me pack the foot in ice for 15 hours. It was black and blue and the size of a small ham when I managed to limp off the plane in L.A."

Fortunately, the single ("but I am dating someone special") actress had three months to tend her knitting bones before reporting on the Hunter set to churn out another 22 episodes for the 1986-87 season.

When strong enough to throw the cane away, Kramer explored her musical possibilities. "I'm a mezzo soprano, trained by private voice coaches, and I fronted country and rock bands off and on for five years," she explains. "We've even managed to sneak in a couple of musical numbers for me on Hunter so far, where I have worked in collaboration with Mike Post. He's the producer/composer doing all the music for all Stephen J. Cannell's productions (including The

A-Team and Stingray)."

Kramer, who was born in Long Beach, Calif, and raised in the Valley, was introduced to good music at an early age through her late father, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  When she tripped and broke her left leg at the age of two, her father played a recording of the 1812 Overture to soothe the itch under the cast.

She fell off a bicycle eight years later and shattered the same leg in several places.  While spending most of the next year in a body cast, Kramer stayed tuned to the radio to sing along with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Joan Baez.  Blessed with a fine voice and natural acting ability, she won several state drama contests.

Bored easily, Kramer was only enrolled at California State University, Northridge, for one year.  "The drama department there didn't quite meet my needs, so I spent the next two years at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts/West in Los Angeles," she explains.  "An agent from the William Morris Agency saw my graduation showcase (in 1977) and wanted to sign me up."

Torn between singing and acting, it took Kramer seven months before she made up her mind to sign with the giant talent agency.  Meanwhile, she sang with a country-swing band, The Doo-Wah Riders, at night and obtained a few acting jobs on her own, finally getting a break with a two-line appearance on Starsky & Hutch.

Once committed to acting, Kramer's career moved ahead at a fast clip.  She polished off two short-term series in 1979 called Married, The First Year and Cliff Hangers, then doing guest shots on Dynasty, Knots Landing and Fantasy Island until the sitcom We Got It Made came along four years later.

The 29-year-old beauty was let go rather unceremoniously in early 1984 after doing 20 episodes of We Got It Made.  "I was called in by the producers and told that there would be changes in character relationships and that my role would be dropped," Kramer says.  "They were trying to bolster the ratings and I had no hard feelings at all.

"In fact, it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me," she continues, "because I was signed to do a spin-off pilot of Riptide 48 hours later.  It didn't sell, but the NBC network and Stephen J. Cannell Productions had enough faith in me to keep me on for Hunter a few months later.  The rest is history."

Kramer, a young lady almost impervious to pain, has been playing a cock-sure and independent undercover cop ever since, this time due to a good break for a change.  "I love portraying Dee Dee McCall, but I don't want to do it forever.  There's too much for me to do as an actress and singer but another three years would be fine."