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Why Sandahl Bergman Wasn’t Seen Again After Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian featured enough action and beautiful women to please any audience. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star power helped carry it, but it had several talented cast members.

Sandahl Bergman played Conan’s love interest who, while it’s not mentioned in the movie, is named Valeria. She’d already made a name for herself as a dancer, but the film she’s best remembered for proved she was a talented actress as well.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on actresses who can seemingly do everything in the world of entertainment. Keep watching to learn why Sandahl Bergman wasn’t seen again after Conan the Barbarian

Sandahl’s Life and Career Before Conan

Sandahl Bergman was born on November 14, 1951, in Kansas, Missouri. She always had a slender and athletic body. She grew up to be 6 feet tall but always claimed she was 5’12 because, in her own words, “no girl should have to be 6 feet.” She first became interested in acting when she began appearing in productions at Shawnee Mission East High School.

Sandahl got discovered by Tommy Tune when he went to her small town in Kansas. He gave her an equity card and a trip to Broadway when she was only 15.

Sandahl moved to New York in her 20s. She appeared in several Broadway shows and got a lucky break when she was noticed by famous choreographer Bob Fosse. He cast her as a replacement dancer in a production of Pippin. They developed a strong business relationship after that and worked together many more times.

Her film debut was as a dancer in Mame in 1974. She followed that up with roles in musicals such as Gigi in 1973, Mack and Mabel in 1974, and the critically-acclaimed musical A Chorus Line in 1977.

Bob cast her again in his musical Dancin’ in 1978. She says that it was the film that helped her learn to hone her technique because the dancers “got a real workout.” There weren’t as many breaks between dance numbers as there were in traditional musicals. 

Keeping up with the demands of that production made her an even more sought-after talent. Her film career grew when she appeared in How to Pick Up Girls in 1978.

Her role in All That Jazz in 1979 made the public take notice. She appeared in the famous “Air-otica scene.” Newsweek said it was the “most high-voltage, blazingly erotic dance sequence ever filmed.”

Dean Martin also became aware of Sandahl’s talent. She appeared on The Dean Martin Show from 1970-1973 and on an episode of Dean Martin Presents Country.

Sandal took on other musical roles after that. She appeared as one of the muses in the opening scene of Xanadu in 1980. She stood out not only because of her talent but because she was a foot taller than all the others.

Filming Conan

Sandahl played Valeria, Conan’s lover, in Conan the Barbarian in 1982. Her name is never spoken out loud, but it did appear in the 1930s fantasy stories that the film was based on. A pirate queen named Belit is meant to be the love of Conan’s life in those stories, but the director had always preferred the other character. She was portrayed as a powerful Amazon who was the barbarian’s equal in battle and character but bound to him by loyalty and love.

The film’s story was almost entirely different. Oliver Stone originally wrote a 4-hour, futuristic epic about a dystopian future. That would have cost the studio $70, so John Millius became the director and rewrote it. He didn’t know anything about the character but agreed to sign on because he wanted to make a Viking movie.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was always the first choice to play Conan, but it didn’t take long to find an actress to play Valeria. John said, “I think we’ve found our Valeria” as soon as Sandhal walked into the audition room. He cast her because he saw her dancing in All That Jazz. He thought she could give the character a ballerina’s sense of movement that would add to the fight scenes. Bob Fosse had even recommended her for the role.

Just like Arnold himself, she had to do her own stunts because no one could be found to match her size. They also had something else in common; they both filmed their first love scene with each other.

Sandra says that filming Conan was tough and that she nearly lost a finger. All 3 main actors had to undergo fighting training for two hours a day and three days a week in Spain. They studied under martial arts master Kiyoshi Yamazaki, who also has a brief cameo in the film. Arnold said he was impressed with how graceful Sandhal was and that they would often fight each other for practice.

He called Conan the Barbarian “God’s gift to my career.” One reason for this may have been that he was entitled to 5% of its profits and it turned out to be a major success. Audiences filled up 3 full auditoriums and lined up around the block for 8 hours. Most of them were bodybuilders like Arnold, but it didn’t matter who they were as long as they paid.

Conan the Barbarian earned $100 million during its release in 1982 and $300 million by 2007 if you include home video sales. It was nominated for 11 awards and won 2 of them.

Completing Conan the Barbarian was also one of the most critical moments in Sandhal’s career because it earned her one of her first awards. She won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on stars who are best known for one influential movie. Keep watching to learn more about why Sandahl Bergman wasn’t seen again after Conan the Barbarian.

Sandahl’s Workout Career

Sandahl Bergman’s stature, beautiful body, and dance experience made her perfect for the exercise video craze that began after Jane Fonda released her own tapes. She appeared as an instructor in FIRM exercise videos in the 80s.

She followed that up with other workout-focused projects. Sandhal Bergman’s Body was released in 1983. It included 12 segments that combined ballet, jazz, stretches, and strengthening moves. The best part what that it required no equipment except for one segment where she used a chair. It eventually became a collector’s item that sold for $39.93 and is worth $100 today. 

Sandahl also recorded The Firm Aerobics Workout with Weights, Vol. 3 in 1990. She has since sustained several injuries over a career full of dancing and doing stunts. They’ve led her to change her workout regimen. She advocates for walking as a relaxing but effective low-intensity exercise.

Sandahl’s Love Life

Sandahl is a private woman who’s rarely appeared in the tabloids. She hasn’t revealed much of anything about the details of her love life or family.

The grueling stuntwork on Conan did have its benefits. Stunt coordinator Terry Leonard allegedly broke a leg because he was trying to impress Sandhal, and it worked because they dated afterward.

She also dated journalist Charlie Rose for a year. There’s no explanation for why they split.

Her first and only marriage was to Josh Taylor. He’s an actor who’s appeared on shows such as Days of Our Lives, the Young and the Restless, and Guiding Light. It’s not clear how long they were married or when they had their son Joshua Taylor.

Sandahl’s Career After Conan

After its major success, there were intended to be 4 sequels to Conan the Barbarian. Arnold was signed on to appear in all of them, but Sandhal was not. She did show up in Red Sonya in 1985. She was offered the lead role but asked to play the villain.

The other one, which she did not appear in, was Conan the Destroyer in 1984. A reboot called Conan the Barbarian in 2001 starred Jason Momoa.

Sandahl Bergman has appeared in almost 50 films and TV shows over her career. Most of her roles after Conan were smaller and less memorable, such as Hell Comes to Frogtown in 1987.

Her career experienced a bit of an uptick when he appeared in over 10 movies in the 90s, One of the most famous was Ice Cream Man in 1995. She also appeared in TV shows, including Designing Women, Swamp Thing, and Murder She Wrote.

Her most recent appearances were as a dancer in The Singing Detective in 2003 and Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl in 2009. She’s since retired from acting to focus on her family. She still dances and appears at Hollywood and sci-fi conventions from time to time.

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