Charlie's Angels
Format Crime drama
Created by Ivan GoffBen Roberts
Starring Farrah Fawcett(seasons 1; 3-4)Kate Jackson(seasons 1-3)Jaclyn Smith(seasons 1-5)Cheryl Ladd(season 2-5)Shelley Hack(season 4)Tanya Roberts(season 5)David DoyleJohn Forsythe
Theme music composer Jack ElliottAllyn Ferguson
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 110 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Aaron SpellingLeonard Goldberg
Running time 48-50 minutes
Production company(s) Spelling/Goldberg Productions
Distributor Columbia Pictures Television
Original channel ABC
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 22, 1976 (1976-09-22) – June 24, 1981 (1981-06-24)
Status Ended


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Charlie's Angels

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Main title card

Charlie's Angels is a 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 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. In pre-production, the original proposed title was The Alley Cats, with the idea being that the show would be a vehicle for up-and-coming actress Kate Jackson, who had proven very popular with viewers in another police drama, The Rookies. Jackson is also the one who came up with the new title for the series upon seeing a painting of three angels on Aaron Spelling's office wall. But Harry's Angels was written off so as not to conflict with another television series, Harry O. Kate Jackson was initially cast as Kelly, but the actress was more attracted to the role of Sabrina, and her request to switch roles was granted; thus, the early part of the pilot relies very heavily on Jaclyn Smith, as the casting change had been made too late in the day to make a further rewrite.


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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 left the series during its run. Fawcett 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 5-year run.

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 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.


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Main cast
Farrah Fawcett-MajorsJill Munroe1; 3 – 41976–1977; 1978–1980 (recurring)
Kate JacksonSabrina Duncan1 – 31976–1979
Jaclyn SmithKelly Garrett1 – 51976–1981
Cheryl LaddKris Munroe2 – 51977–1981
Shelley HackTiffany Welles41979–1980
Tanya RobertsJulie Rogers51980–1981
David DoyleJohn Bosley1 – 51976–1981
John Forsythe (voice)Charles "Charlie" Townsend1 – 51976–1981

Notable guest stars
Charlie's Angels played host to a number of well-known faces during its five seasons. Some of those individuals were long-established stars of film and television; others would find considerable fame and recognition many years after appearing in the program. Notable appearances of celebrities (whether famous then or later) include those of:

Rise and fall

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The series proved a runaway hit in the (1976–1977) ratings, finishing at number 5 for the season and a great deal of attention was centred on the 3 leads (Jackson would later comment that this first few months was like being in the eye of a storm). Suddenly all three lead actresses were propelled into big time stardom with Fawcett proving hugely popular, so much so that she was branded a phenomenon. However, the situation off screen was not so happy. The long working hours on set, combined with numerous calls for photo shoots, wardrobe fittings, and promotional interviews, were taking their toll on the trio. Jackson was especially unhappy as she felt the quality of scripts was declining and the format was now more "cop story of the week" rather than classy undercover drama, which had been the intention with the pilot film.

Barney Rosenzweig took over as producer (he later created Cagney and Lacey) and made a conscious effort to improve the show's quality in order to escape the continued negative reviews from critics. He soon found himself up against Spelling and Goldberg, who were more interested in the viewing figures than anything else. As such, Rosenzweig resigned at the end of the season after several clashes with Goldberg.

More troubling, though, was Fawcett's sudden decision not to return for season 2 as she was concerned the punishing schedule was putting pressure on her marriage to Lee Majors. Spelling was furious and took the actress to court for breach of contract. Hollywood now had its first Angel hunt, as every aspiring model or actress tried for the role of Jill's replacement, kid sister Kris Munroe. After the likes of Kim Basinger were considered, the producers offered the role to Cheryl Ladd, who promptly turned it down when she realized that the character was exactly the same as Farrah's; after a talk with Spelling, he agreed she could play it as the rookie Angel who would be learning as she went along, thereby gaining audience sympathy. On her first day of filming the actress arrived wearing a T Shirt emblazoned with "Farrah Fawcett Minor" on it. Ladd was to prove very popular with the viewers, and by the end of the season, ratings had gone up, with it finishing overall at number 4. However Ladd and Jackson never really got on, something which Jaclyn Smith (who was friends with both) found difficult. Real life drama erupted on the set when police protection had to be called in while filming the season opener in Hawaii when details of a plot to kidnap the actresses was uncovered.

The big news in the third season (1978–1979) was the return of Farrah in three episodes, a situation she was forced into after losing her court battle (she did another three episodes the following year). Still a big success, the show had its most significant loss when Jackson quit at the end of the season (sources vary but one popular claim is that her continued difficult behavior resulted in Spelling simply not asking her back). Jackson had been unhappy for some time and was especially upset when she was refused a revised working schedule so as to release her to work on the movie "Kramer vs Kramer" at weekends. Whatever the reason, "Charlie's Angels" never really recovered from her loss.

Again an Angel Hunt was initiated, and seriously considered was a young Michelle Pfeiffer. Initially, it was rumored that ex-Bond Girl Barbara Bach was cast, but nervous studio execs were concerned that she looked too similar to Jaclyn Smith in long shots when they were shown test footage. Model, actress and sportscaster Jayne Kennedy was also considered, a move that would have created the first multi-racial trio of Angels. Finally, model-turned-actress Shelley Hack was cast as university graduate turned cop Tiffany Welles. Hack was most famous as the Charlie girl for Revlon's Charlie perfume, which Spelling felt would prove a good promotional gimmick for her arrival. Hack was never given much to do in her early adventures while often episodes would focus on one angel, a change from the team stories of previous seasons partially decided so as to allow the actresses more time off. Despite her introductory episode debuting at number one, viewers were soon switching off, and Hack was widely blamed for the ratings decline. Even further appearances from Farah failed to make any impact.

ABC ordered a fifth season (1980–1981), with Tanya Roberts replacing the departing Hack. The new Angel was streetwise Julie Rogers, who encountered the Angels while working as a model but was soon given a trainee detective's license. The action then moved to Hawaii for several episodes, with the Angels taking over the Townsend office there. Naturally, this allowed ample opportunity for the leads to get their bikinis out. Despite early episodes debuting respectably within the Top 10, viewers again started to lose interest; ABC changed the show's time slot several times, but this saw ratings only sink lower. Eventually, the axe fell in early 1981, and with only four episodes remaining, they were eventually screened in June of that year. Smith, Ladd, and Doyle were quietly relieved, having gotten very bored in the final few months. Even if a sixth season had been ordered, Smith would have been out of her contract and had made it very clear that she was not going to return.


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ABC attempted to create a spin-off for Charlie's Angels in 1980 called Toni's Boys. The show was essentially a gender reversal of Charlie's Angels and starred Barbara Stanwyck as Antonia "Toni" Blake, a wealthy widow and friend of Charlie's who ran a detective agency. The agency was staffed by three good looking male detectives who took direction from Toni, and solved crimes in a manner similar to the Angels. The show aired as a backdoor pilot during the fourth season of Charlie's Angels, but was not picked up as a regular series for the following season.

Although there was a crossover with Vega$, a pilot episode had already aired, so it was not strictly a spin-off.

2011 Reboot

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In November 2009, ABC announced that it was considering a television revival of Charlie's Angels, with Josh Friedman handling both writing and executive producing duties, and Drew Barrymore and Leonard Goldberg sharing co-production duties. The remake, originally speculated as a candidate for the 2010-2011 U.S. television season, was reportedly to be produced by Sony Pictures Television.

On May 25, 2010, ABC announced that the Charlie's Angels project was among the 5 shows that could be on the lists as a possible 2010-2011 midseason entry, with writers Al Gough and Miles Millar of TV's Smallville and film's Spider-Man 2 newly on board to craft the pilot.

The pilot began production in February 2011. The setting for the new series will move from Los Angeles to Miami. On May 13, ABC announced that it had taken Charlie's Angels to series with a thirteen episode order.

Robert Wagner will take over the role of Charlie for the new series, while Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly, and Rachael Taylor will co-star as Angels, "Kate", "Eve", and "Abby" respectively, with "Kate" being the first African-American Angel.


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As "Jiggle TV"

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The show became known as "Jiggle TV" 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."

Nielsen ratings/ABC broadcast history

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Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Charlie's Angels on ABC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. All times listed are North American Eastern Time.

SeasonTime slotPremiereFinaleTV SeasonSeason
1Wednesday 10:00 P.M.September 22, 1976May 4, 19771976-1977#518.4
2Wednesday 9:00 P.M.September 14, 1977May 10, 19781977-1978#4?17.8
3September 13, 1978May 16, 19791978-1979#1218.2
4September 12, 1979May 7, 19801979-1980#2015.9
5Sunday 8:00 P.M. (November 30, 1980 - January 11, 1981)
Saturday 8:00 P.M. (January 24, 1981 - February 28, 1981)
Wednesday 8:00 P.M. (June 3, 1981 - June 24, 1981)
November 30, 1980June 24, 19811980-1981#47

? Denotes tie in year-end rank.

DVD releases

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released Seasons 1-3 of Charlie's Angels on DVD in Regions 1 and 2. Season 4 was released in Region 1 on July 21, 2009.

SeasonEp #Release datesNotes
Region 1Region 2Region 4
123May 27, 2003June 23, 2003September 29, 2010Includes 90-minute pilot tele-film
224April 6, 2004February 19, 2007January 13, 2011The two-hour episodes "Angels in Paradise" and "Angels on Ice" appear as syndicated versions
322July 4, 2006April 20, 2009March 2, 2011The two-hour episodes "Angels in Vegas" and "Terror on Skis" appear as syndicated versions
425July 21, 2009TBATBATwo-hour episodes: Love Boat Angels, One Love...Two Angels

Note: Episode count is based on the format in which episodes originally aired. Two-hour episodes are counted as one episode.


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As of February 2009, the first and third seasons of the show can be purchased on iTunes, and some episodes of the show can be streamed for free in the US on IMDB, Hulu, with Minisodes and full episodes available on Crackle. The show previously aired in syndication on various network affiliates and on TV Land and ION. Following the death of Farrah Fawcett in June 2009, WGN America aired a week of marathons of the show. As of 2009 the series is still available for syndication to local television stations in the United States.

Other versions

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The series has inspired many remakes and reinterpretations throughout the years and in different countries. It has also been featured in various other media.

Alternate versions
Four women were selected to be in a show called Angels '88, which was to serve as an updated version of the show. The show was later named Angels '89 after production delays, but the project was abandoned before notice was taken. From 1998–1999, Telemundo and Sony produced a show called Ángeles. The weekly hour format did not catch on with Hispanic viewers, who are accustomed to watching telenovelas nightly and the series was soon canceled. In 2002, a German version of Charlie's Angels, Wilde Engel, was produced by the German channel RTL. The show was known as Anges de choc in French-speaking countries, and as Three Wild Angels in English-speaking ones.

In 2004, a television movie entitled Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels aired on NBC.

The series inspired two feature films from Flower Films production company: Charlie's Angels (2000) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), with John Forsythe returning to voice Charlie. Whereas most movie remakes of 1970s TV shows, like Starsky and Hutch, are actually remakes, the Charlie's Angels films are set in a different time and thus closer to a film revival. The mythology goes that whenever an Angel leaves, she is replaced so there are always three. The second film had more nods to the TV series than the first film, with Jaclyn Smith making a brief cameo as Kelly Garrett.

The series has also inspired more shows and films, including:

  • The 1979 film Angels Revenge, featuring a similar concept featuring seven women joining to stop a drug operation. This film was poorly received and viewed by many as little more than a cheap knockoff.
  • The animated series Totally Spies!, about three young girls similarly working as undercover agents.
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode, "G.I.R.L. Squad" parodies Charlie's Angels.
  • Another animated series, Codename: Kids Next Door, featuring five ten year old children who are undercover agents. This series is notable for its title card, which was inspired by that of Charlie's Angels.

  • Connie Bates (1988–1989), played by Claire Yarlett,Angels '89
  • Pam Ryan (1988–1989), played by Sandra Canning,Angels '89
  • Trisha Lawrence (1988–1989), played by Karen Kopins,Angels '89
  • Bernie Colter (1988–1989), played by Téa Leoni,Angels '89
  • Adriana Vega (1998–1999), played by Patricia Manterola,Ángeles
  • Elena Sanchez (1998–1999), played by Sandra Vidal,Ángeles
  • Gina Navarro (1998–1999), played by Magali Caicedo,Ángeles
  • Natalie Cook (2000–2003), played by Cameron Diaz, Charlie's Angels & Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Dylan Sanders (2000–2003), played by Drew Barrymore, Charlie's Angels & Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Alex Munday (2000–2003), played by Lucy Liu, Charlie's Angels & Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Franziska (2002), played by Susann Uplegger,Wilde Engel
  • Lena (2002), played by Eva Habermann,Wilde Engel
  • Raven (2002), played by Birgit Stauber,Wilde Engel
  • Rebecca (2003), played by Vanessa Petruo, Wilde Engel
  • Ida (2003), played by Tanja Wenzel, Wilde Engel
  • Aiko (2003), played by Zora Holt, Wilde Engel
  • Richard Voss (2003), played by Udo Kier, Wilde Engel
  • Madison Lee (2003), played by Demi Moore,Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Kate Prince (2011), played by Annie Ilonzeh, Charlie's Angels (2011).
  • Eve French (2011), played by Minka Kelly, Charlie's Angels (2011).
  • Abby Simpson (2011), Played by Rachael Taylor, Charlie's Angels (2011).

Video games
In July 2003, three Charlie's Angels games were released on three different gaming platforms: Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and the mobile phone. The versions released on both the GameCube and PlayStation 2 were virtually the same, each given the same title: Charlie's Angels. The version released for the mobile phone was fundamentally toned down to fit the technical restrictions of the platform, and was titled Charlie's Angels: Road Cyclone.

In April 2008, Ojom announced a new Charlie's Angels mobile phone game entitled Charlie's Angels: Hellfire. The game is now available on operator portals across Europe.

Collectible items
During the show's run, a countless variety of collectible items were produced, including two versions of dolls, boardgames, several posters, several sets of trading cards, notebooks, a lunchbox & thermos, Charlie's Angels van, children's beauty products and even record albums.

Even though it was not directly part of the show, Farrah Fawcett also released a poster of her sporting a red bathing suit that became the biggest selling poster in history with 12 million copies sold. This poster also helped the burgeoning popularity of the series.

Two British comic strip versions were produced. The first appeared in the Polystyle publication Target in April 1978, drawn by John Canning. Target was a sister title to the long-running TV Comic aimed at older children and featuring TV action and crime shows of the day. Proving unpopular, it folded in August and merged back into TV Comic where Canning's Angels strip continued until October 1979. The second strip was printed in Junior TV Times Look-in, debuting in November 1979 (as soon as Polystyle's deal expired), written by Angus Allan and drawn by Jim Baikie and Bill Titcombe.

In the on-line comic Erfworld, one side in The Battle for Gobwin Knob hires three glowing, flying female combatants from an unseen "Charlie". One is blond and two are dark-haired. They first appear in silhouette in Page 42 of the comic and in the final frame of Page 69, after dispensing with some "Dwagons" of the opposing side, once again take up the iconic pose of Charlie's Angels. They are referred to as "Charlie's Archons". In Gnosticism, an archon occupies a role similar to the angels of the Old Testament.

Angel's "Proper" Charlies was a British comic strip published in the weekly Jackpot. It first appeared in 1979, drawn by Trevor Metcalfe. Angel was a beautiful teenage girl who was worshipped by three not-so-very-mature boys called the Charlies. Angel's beauty hid a conniving mind, in that she took advantage of the love-struck trio in order to get her own way, such as slipping into parties and concerts and attracting the attention of more suitable boyfriends, while the Charlies ended up bruised and battered as a result of their efforts to impress her (in vain).

Brelan de dames (Three Ladies of a Kind), a Belgian comic strip by artist Renaud Denauw and writer Jean-Luc Vernal, was also about a trio of action women, though in this case they came from various countries and racial backgrounds and, after a short stint in the secret service, became independent operators. Again, one is blond and the others are dark-haired. Their adventures were published in the 1980s in Tintin magazine.

In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Issue #152 has a reference to "Charlie's Angels" called Sonic's Angels.

Angel appearances

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This is a chronological list of appearances that two or more Angels have made together in support of Charlie's Angels.

  • 1976 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith are featured in the cover story of Time magazine, which analyzes the impact of the show on popular culture.
  • 1976 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear on the cover of TV Guide.
  • 1976 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear on the cover of People Magazine.
  • 1976 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear on an ABC TV special wearing outfits similar to those in their Time magazine cover.
  • 1976 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith guest star on The Captain & Tennille TV variety series.
  • 1977 - Jackson, Smith, Ladd, and Doyle appear on the cover of People Magazine.
  • 1977 - Jackson, Smith, and Ladd guest star on the new TV show The San Pedro Beach Bums.
  • 1978 - Jackson, Smith, and Ladd appear on ABC's Silver Anniversary Celebration: 25 and Still the One TV special.
  • 1978 - Jackson, Smith, and Ladd appear on the cover of TV Guide.
  • 1979 - Smith, Ladd, and Hack appear on the cover of TV Guide.
  • 1986 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear on the cover of People Magazine in a shot from the Time cover shoot, contrasted with then-current insets, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the series.
  • 1992 - Jackson, Smith, and Ladd appear together to pay tribute to Aaron Spelling on The 18th People's Choice Awards.
  • 1994 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear in the 20th Anniversary edition of People Magazine; the Angels are pictured in the top corner of the cover, and the article includes a pull-out poster. The same issue was released in Australia with the three on the cover.
  • 1998 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith pre-record a reunion segment for the TV special ABC's Tribute to Aaron Spelling.
  • 2006 - Jackson, Fawcett, and Smith appear together on stage at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, to pay tribute to Charlie's Angels executive producer Aaron Spelling.
  • 2008 - Jackson and Smith appear on the show Shear Genius, hosted by Smith, for a Charlie's Angels-themed episode where the contestants styled models' hair in an updated version of the original three Angels' iconic hairstyles.
  • 2009 - Jackson and Smith each visit Fawcett during her battle with cancer in Fawcett's documentary Farrah's Story, aired on NBC and related networks.
  • 2010 - Smith and Ladd appeared together at the 8th Annual TV Land Awards where Charlie's Angels received the Pop-Culture Award. Smith acknowledged Jackson, Hack, and Roberts. Both honored deceased co-stars Farrah Fawcett, David Doyle, John Forsythe and deceased executive producer Aaron Spelling. The presentation also featured a tribute to Farrah Fawcett. Smith and Ladd also gave exclusive interviews with Good Morning America and Extra to promote their appearance on the award show.

See also

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  • The Doll Squad, a film about another group of shapely female operatives

Notes and references

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