Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Apple #89: Charlie's Angels


Last night, I rented a set of episodes from Season I of the TV show, Charlie's Angels.

I can't even tell you how much pleasure I have derived from watching these shows. It's a total trip to nostalgia-ville, for one thing, and it's knocking loose all kinds of memories from when I was a youngster and pretending to be one of Charlie's Angels with my friends. And the show itself, I'm just delighting in its fantastic-ness, its girls-can-be-sexy- and-adventurous-too-ness, its total campiness.

  • The show was a detective drama, in which the detectives were played by three women, supposedly so sexy that men all but drooled and lost their minds when they were around. The investigators got their assignments from a man named Charlie, who spoke to them only by telephone. Another man, Bosley, helped arrange some of the particulars, but it was the women who carried out the assignments, which required them to assume such "covers" as race car drivers, roller derby stars, and inmates in a women's prison.

(TV Screen Gems image from Matias Stuven's blog)

  • It was the most successful series of the 1970's.
  • The 3 women who first played Charlie's Angels were Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson:

The original Angels chillin' out, from

Farrah Fawcett, as Jill Munroe (the blonde one)
  • For a while, she was Farrah Fawcett-Majors following her marriage to Lee Majors of Six Million Dollar Man fame. I remember how much talk there was about the two of them. It was sort of like the Ben Affleck & J Lo business, except less smarmy.
  • Farrah was only on Charlie's Angels for the first season. The show's producers, Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, took her to court for breaking her contract, and she agreed to appear in 6 episodes in the second and third seasons.
  • When she met her "true love" Ryan O'Neal, she and Lee Majors divorced. She and Ryan never married, but they had a son, Readmond.
  • She received great critical acclaim for her role in The Burning Bed, and she also appeared as the wife of Robert Duvall's character in The Apostle.
  • In spite of being famous for her swimsuit pose, which was replicated on millions of posters, it wasn't until 1995 that she agreed to pose for Playboy. That issue sold over four million copies, which made it the magazine's biggest seller for the decade.
  • [this just in: Farrah Fawcett sadly died of cancer on June 25, 2009. Ryan O'Neal had asked her to marry him a few days earlier, but she was so ill she was unable to speak.]
  • [double P.S. check out the insanity among Ryan O'Neal and the family as they stood around Farrah's bedside. To top it off, he hit on his daughter, Tatum, at Farrah's funeral. Yeah. Be sure to read through to page 2.]

    Kate Jackson, as Sabrina Duncan (the smart one)

    • Kate grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, which accounts for the trace of an accent, especially in the early episodes.
    • She was on several other TV programs before Charlie's Angels, including Dark Shadows, Bonanza, and a crime show called The Rookies.
    • She was nominated for two Emmys in her role as Sabrina, but didn't win.
    • After 3 years on the show, Kate wanted to be in the film, Kramer vs. Kramer, but the producers wouldn't let her. So she quit.
    • Although she was in a couple other TV programs, it wasn't until she starred in Scarecrow and Mrs. King that she found success again.
    • She has survived breast cancer, first diagnosed in 1987.

      Jaclyn Smith, as Kelly Garrett (the nice, sort of boring one)

      • Jaclyn's first jobs were as a model for Max Factor and Breck shampoo, and she was known as the Breck Girl.
      • She almost got fired after the pilot episode, but the producers fought to keep her, and she went on to be the only angel to last the show's five years.
      • She's been in a crapload of pretty bad movies.
      • She's known now for her signature fashion collection, sold through K-mart.

        Other Angels

        • Cheryl Ladd, nee Cheryl Jean Stopelmoor, daughter-in-law of 1940's hearthrob Alan Ladd, replaced Farrah in the show's second season.
        • Shelley Hack, originally a model who also had a bit part in Annie Hall, replaced Kate Jackson in the fourth season.

        A few indicative lines:

        • Sabrina: "Cheer up. As soon as I'm out of here, you can run right down to the high school and check out the graduating class."
        • Jill: "I am not a yo-yo!"
        • Kelly, expressing disbelief: "Yeah, just last week Rosalynn Carter leapt through my window with a quart of chili!"
        • Kelly: "Would you think I was pushy if I asked why you were shooting at me?"
        • Sabrina: "I'm glad I was only kidnapped."
        • Sabrina, while being dragged away: "Come on, I swallowed my gum here!"

          Nothing but class, 1976 style.

          [triple P.S. On April 1, 2010,  John Forsythe, the voice of Charlie, died.  He survived heart disease and colorectal cancer, but succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 92.  Time praised his "uncomplicated manliness" and had many other complimentary things to say about him.]


          Super 70's, Charlie's Angels
, Charlie's Angels summary
          IMDb, Charlie's Angels TV series
          Episode guide to Charlie's Angels
          Netglimpse, Cheryl Ladd-biography
          Sony's Screen Gems Network (this is supposed to be a promo site for
          Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, the movie, but they have a lot of info about the TV show. If you want to hear a tidbit of that totally catchy song, or ask Charlie a question, click here)


          1. I am mourning the loss of Farrah Fawcett by rereading your wonderful Charlie's Angels post. Thanks, Apple Lady.

          2. I'm going to watch some of those episodes from season 1 tonight, if anyone wants to join me.

          3. I'm pretty sure Cheryl Ladd was not Alan Ladd's daughter but his daughter in law
            Lovely to remember the show and honor Farrah with the post update

          4. You are correct, Confetti! I will update the page accordingly. Thanks for letting me know.


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