Synopsis of TV Show
"Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went the Police Academy..."
Dangerous missions, fast cars, beautiful women... Charlie’s Angels had ‘smash hit’ written all over it from the start. This show cleverly mixed action with glamour and sex appeal, paving the way for every slinky, sultry detective show that followed in its wake.
Charlie’s Angels was the creation of Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, who were riding high with their then-current hit, Starsky and Hutch. The show revolved around three foxy detectives who worked for the always-unseen multi-millionaire, Charlie (voice of John Forsythe), who relayed their assignments via telephone. Much to the delight of the show's male audience, said assignments almost always took place in locales designed to give the ladies an opportunity to show off their curves: nightclubs, health spas, ranches, roller rinks, women's prisons, etc.
The show’s initial team consisted of brainy leader Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson), athletic Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett) and worldly ex-showgirl Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith). Rounding out the cast was David Doyle as Bosley, Charlie’s assistant, who was on hand to act as a liaison and help the ladies in their work (he also spent a lot of time fretting over their financial expenditures).
The show’s combination of action, lush scenery and racy innuendo made it an immediate hit. All the lead actresses were popular with the viewing public, but Fawcett became the pin-up girl of choice in many a bedroom, thanks in part to a cheesecake publicity shot of her smiling in a bathing suit. This image was transformed into what became one of the most-purchased posters ever, sparking a ‘Farrah-Mania’ merchandising blitz that also included dolls and tee shirts.
Fawcett decided to leave the show after the first season to pursue a film career. Jill's place on the team was filled in nicely (wink wink) by her little sister, Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd). The publicity and merchandising people didn't miss a beat, turning Ladd into a sex symbol of almost equal popularity. In 1979, Kate Jackson left and was replaced by Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles, a cop’s daughter who lasted only one season. Hack’s replacement came in the form of urbanite Julie Rogers (played by Tanya Roberts).
Critics often complained about the show's lack of realism and reliance on the visual appeal of its stars, but audiences had a snappy response to that argument: "Well, duh." Charlie’s Angels' mix of girls, guns and glitz made the show completely critic-proof. It finished its five-year run in August of 1981, after filming a total of 115 episodes.
The show is still popular in reruns today, and the Angels all went on to successful television, film and/or modeling careers. Aaron Spelling kept his success streak alive as well, producing hit shows as diverse as The Love Boat, T.J. Hooker and Beverly Hills 90210. One of his long-running successes, Dynasty, allowed John Forsythe to finally step out of the shadows and act with both his body and his voice as patriarch Blake Carrington.
Spelling produced a pilot for an updated version of Charlie’s Angels, titled Angels ‘88, which would have featured a four-woman team instead of the original show’s trio. The series never made it to the air, but a feature version of the show, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray (as Bosley, not the fourth Angel), became a smash hit in November 2000. And perhaps most importantly, any time a group of three or more females born in the mid-60's to mid-70's get together for a group picture, somebody will inevitably point her fingers into a gun and strike a sultry Charlie's Angels pose for the camera. Now that's girl power.
Release History of Prime Time Show9/22/76 - 8/19/81 ABC
TV Sub Categoriesdrama
Television StudioSpelling-Goldberg Productions
TV CastSabrina Duncan (1976-79) Kate Jackson
Jill Munroe (1976-77, 1979, 1980) Farrah Fawcett
Kelly Garrett Jaclyn Smith
John Bosley David Doyle
Charlie Townsend (voice) John Forsythe
Kris Munroe (1977-81) Cheryl Ladd
Tiffany Welles (1979-80) Shelley Hack
Julie Rogers (1980-81) Tanya Roberts