But there was no talent scout. The way she got to Hollywood was by entering a beauty contest which, to her surprise but nobody else's, she won. Thus did Miss Orange County arrive in town ready for anything.
She did television and movies (among the films was "Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen"). She also got involved with a cult group.
"I used to go to their house three times a week," she said. "They convinced me to become a vegetarian and I gave up fish and meat and chicken. In fact I only stopped being a vegetarian last week. Peter (her husband, actor Peter Horton) and I went to a restaurant and he said: 'I think I'll have some fish and I suddenly said: 'That sounds good to me.' I've been eating fish ever since."
She was, she says, "thoroughly brainwashed" by the group.
"I stopped seeing them just two weeks after meeting my husband. I'd wanted to stop months before but found it difficult; they get you to believe you won't be able to survive without them. Not until I was with Peter did I realize just what I'd gotten myself into."
Now the fish-eating Pfeiffer is trying to practice patience in her career.
"That's hard for me," she said. "I want everything yesterday. But I know I mustn't rush into things any more. I've got to wait for the right part to come along."
But she confesses the recent reviews have encouraged her.
"It's funny," she said. "Whenever I get a good review in the past I'd think the studio had paid for it or something. Or perhaps that I'd met the critic somewhere and they'd like me. I just couldn't believe that something good was being written about me for no reason. It's taken me a long time to be convinced. . . . "