Charlie's Angels is an American crime drama television series about three women who work for a private investigation agency, and is one of the first shows to showcase women in roles traditionally reserved for men. The series stars Kate Jackson; Farrah Fawcett-Majors; Jaclyn Smith; Cheryl Ladd; Shelley Hack; Tanya Roberts; David Doyle; and John Forsythe as the voice of Charles Townsend, also known as "Charlie" (the Angels' boss). The series was broadcast in the USA on the ABC Television Network from 1976 to 1981 and was one of the most successful series of the 1970s. Charlie's Angels was created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts and produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.
Like other American TV crime shows of the 1970s, Charlie's Angels was generally formatted in the way of a procedural drama. Most episodes followed a regular structure whereby a crime is committed, the Angels are given the case details by Charlie and Bosley at the Townsend office and the trio go undercover, usually involving something skimpy to wear for Kelly and Jill (later Kris). Towards the end of the episode one of them is uncovered and it is a race against time for the others to rescue their friend before they meet some horrible fate. Inevitably, the final scene would be back at the Townsend office with Charlie offering his congratulations for a job well done.Three women, the Angels (originally Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and Jaclyn Smith), graduated from the Los Angeles police academy only to be assigned such duties as handling switchboards and directing traffic. They quit and were hired to work for the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. Their boss, Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), is never seen full face. (In a few episodes the viewer sees the back of his head and his arms, and he is often surrounded by beautiful women.) Charlie assigns cases to the Angels and his liaison, Bosley (David Doyle), via a speaker phone. Fawcett-Majors and Jackson eventually left the series during its run. Fawcett-Majors was replaced by Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe, Jill's sister and a former police officer from San Francisco. Jackson was replaced by Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles, a former police officer from Boston. In the final season, Tanya Roberts replaced Hack as Julie Rogers, a former model. Jaclyn Smith was the only original female cast member to remain with the series during its entire five-year run.
The show became known as "Jiggle television" and "T&A TV" (or "Tits & Ass Television") by critics who believed that the show had no intelligence or substance and that the scantily or provocatively dressed Angels—generally as part of their undercover character—e.g., roller derby girl, beauty pageant contestant, maid, female prisoner, or just bikini-clad—did so to showcase the figures and/or sexuality of the actresses as a sole means of attracting viewers. Farrah Fawcett-Majors once attributed the show's success to this fact: "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."
Conception and castingEdit
The original proposed title for the show was The Alley Cats. Kate Jackson did not have to audition and was immediately selected for one of the roles during the early pre-production stages. She had proven very popular with viewers in another police television drama, The Rookies. Not quite excited by the name of the show, Jackson relayed to producers that the leads should be called "angels" instead of "alley cats". Jackson then came up with the idea that the identity of their boss should remain a mystery, both to the characters and the viewers, and that they should receive their cases over a speakerphone or squawk box. Producers incorporated these ideas into the show, which proved to be very popular. The Angels' boss was originally to be named Harry, but the title Harry's Angels was dropped from consideration as not to conflict with another television series, Harry O. Producers came up with the name Charlie. Jackson was initially cast as Kelly Garrett, but was more attracted to the role of Sabrina Duncan, and her request to switch roles was granted. Thus, the early part of the pilot focuses heavily on Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett (the role Jackson originally had) as the casting change had been made too late to make further rewrites.
Farrah Fawcett was the next actress to be selected for a role after Jackson. Fawcett, too, did not have to audition. She had done small acting parts up to this point such as commercials and sitcom appearances. A producer of Charlie's Angels saw the actress in a small role in the film Logan's Run and wanted her to be one of the female leads in the show. A casting call was then put out for the final lead role, and Jaclyn Smith was chosen from among hundreds of actresses. Smith had done limited acting as well up to that point, having appeared in several commercials.
|Actress/Actor||Character||Seasons||Year||No. of Episodes||Notes|
|Kate Jackson||Sabrina Duncan||1–3||1976–1979||69 episodes||Charlie's Angels was created in her favor, and many of her ideas were incorporated into the series. She was given the choice of which role she wanted to play, and she chose Sabrina Duncan, a police graduate from Los Angeles.|
|Farrah Fawcett||Jill Munroe||1||1976–1977||29 episodes||A police graduate from Los Angeles. She left after season one, but returned for a few guest star appearances during seasons 3 and 4 due to contractual obligations.|
|Jaclyn Smith||Kelly Garrett||1–5||1976–1981||110 episodes||A police graduate from Los Angeles. She was the only "Angel" to remain with the series during its entire five-year run. (Although in late 1980, Smith announced she would be leaving the show; the series was cancelled before this could happen.).|
|Cheryl Ladd||Kris Munroe||2–5||1977–1981||87 episodes||Replaced Farrah Fawcett-Majors (Jill Munroe), as Jill's younger sister, Kris Munroe, a police graduate from San Francisco. Ladd had the second-longest stint of the "Angels" on the series (four seasons), after Jaclyn Smith (five seasons).|
|Shelley Hack||Tiffany Welles||4||1979–1980||25 episodes||Replaced Kate Jackson (Sabrina Duncan), playing classy Tiffany Welles, a police graduate from Boston.|
|Tanya Roberts||Julie Rogers||5||1980–1981||16 episodes||Replaced Shelley Hack (Tiffany Welles) in the fifth and final season, playing Julie Rogers, a street-wise model from The Bronx.|
|David Doyle||John Bosley||1–5||1976–1981||110 episodes||He works for Charlie and, along with Charlie, provides the Angels with their assignment. On occasion he assists the Angels, and unlike them, he routinely sees and works with Charlie.|
|John Forsythe(voice)||Charles "Charlie" Townsend||1–5||1976–1981||109 episodes||The owner of the detective agency and the Angels' and Bosley's boss, he was never seen full-face in any episode. His role is primarily the voice over a speakerphone.|