“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy”
Back in the 1970’s, there were three little girls who became the fantasy of many a teenage boy and one of those little girls was married to a bionic man! Yes, I’m talking about the original Charlie’s Angels TV show and not the more recent movie version that starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.
The original Charlie’s Angels, which ran for five seasons from 1976 to 1981, was about the adventures of three women detectives who worked for the mysterious Charlie, a man whose face we never got to see. Despite the mixed response it got from the critics and the accusations of it being nothing more than what was known as ‘Jiggle TV’, Charlie’s Angels was in the top ten of TV shows for its fs two seasons and became something of a cult classic.
If you ever had that iconic, all teeth and hair, poster of Farrah Fawcett-Majors on your bedroom wall, or if you lusted after the ‘smart one’, Kate Jackson, here are ten fun facts about the original Charlie’s Angels to take you back to the 1970’s.
1. Charlie had six angels
In the course of the five seasons that the show ran for, there were actually six different Charlie’s Angels and, despite the fact that she will always be associated with the show, Farrah Fawcett-Majors only appeared in season one, and made six guest appearances in later seasons.
Kate Jackson - Sabrina Duncan - 1976–1979
Farrah Fawcett-Majors - Jill Munroe - 1976–1977
Jaclyn Smith - Kelly Garrett - 1976–1981
Cheryl Ladd - Kris Munroe - 1977–1981
Shelley Hack - Tiffany Welles - 1979–1980
Tanya Roberts - Julie Rogers - 1980–1981
Just in case you didn’t know, but you probably did, Charlie, the millionaire patriarch figure that you never saw was played actor John Forsythe, who also starred in Dynasty, playing the part of Blake Carrington.
3. Charlie’s Angels was branded ‘jiggle TV’
Many of the critics didn’t have a lot of time for the show and despite the fact Charlie’s Angels were portrayed as independent, intelligent women, it was criticised for its use of the often scantily clad Angels. The show was branded as being nothing more than ‘jiggle TV’, or ‘T&A TV" (Tits & Ass Television), but that did nothing to hurt the ratings!
4. Farrah Fawcett-Majors had no illusions about the show
Let’s be honest guys, no one watched Charlie’s Angels for the deep and meaningful plots now did we. Farrah Fawcett-Majors knew exactly why the show was so popular, and she once said: "When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra."
5. Charles Angels were nearly called the Alley Cats
The show’s creators, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, originally wanted to use the title of Alley Cats, but the show’s producers wanted to show women in a more positive light. It was Kate Jackson, who came up with the idea to call the girls Angels, after he saw a picture of some angels hanging on the wall in Aaron Spellings’ office.
6. Farrah Fawcett-Majors left to pursue a movie career
Despite the success of the show and the fact she had signed a five year contract, Farrah Fawcett-Majors handed in her resignation before the series one finale had even been aired because she thought she had a career in the movies. After a lot of wrangling and generous offers from ABC, she was released from her contract on the condition that she made six guest appearances on the show.
7. John Forsythe was a last minute stand-in for the voice of Charlie
The original actor employed to do the voice of Charlie was Gig Young, but he turned up drunk and couldn’t say the lines without slurring. John Forsythe stepped in at the last minute and he is said to have recorded the first words of Charlie in his Pyjamas, late on the Friday night before the Monday that the pilot show was due to be aired.
8. Kate Jackson was offered the female lead in Kramer vs. Kramer
In 1979, Kate Jackson has the chance to play opposite Dustin Hoffman in the Oscar winning film Kramer vs. Kramer. The producers of Charlie’s Angels, however, had other ideas and they refused to give her the time off to shoot the movie. This was one of the reasons that Kate Jackson left the show in the third season.
At first, ABC executives were concerned that audience’s wouldn’t take to three women crime fighters, so they added the character of Scott Woodville, played by David Ogden Stiers (Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in M.A.S.H.), to be the man and the brains behind the Angels. Neither Aaron Spelling, nor audiences, particularly liked this character, so he was taken out after the pilot and the character of Bosley took a more central role.
10. The demise of Charlie’s Angels
When Farrah Fawcett Majors left the show at the end of season one, she was replaced by Cheryl Ladd and, while the show initially dipped slightly in the ratings, that change didn’t kill it off. After more cast changes, though, and a rather desperate attempt to revive the show’s popularity by publicising an “Angel Hunt” to find Charlie’s next angel, the show was finally cancelled in 1981.
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