Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Charlie’s Angels
On 4th September 2016
A lot of people picture Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in the 2000 film when they think about the famous trio, but it actually all began on TV in 1976. They were the coolest female spies on TV and every girl wanted to be them, and every boy was in love with them. There are probably a lot of things you didn’t know about the original show since it last aired on ABC in 1981!
#1 Charlie's Angels Was Jiggle TV
Charlie's Angels was ratings gold for Aaron Spelling's TV empire in the late 1970s. Was it because of its scintillating dialogue or intricate crimefighting plot lines, or did it have more to do with its beautiful female cast? The show was responsible for coining the term "Jiggle TV," which was a marketing strategy focused on the sexual appeal of women. They literally made wardrobe changes to maximize that body jiggle. The original trio of Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Jaclyn Smith propelled the show to the top ten, but the series lost its stride after multiple cast changes. Here are some things you never knew about Charlie, Bosley, the Angels and the show that became a pop culture phenomenon.
#2 The Show Almost Didn't Get Made
A cast led by women was not a very popular concept at the time Charlie's Angels came around in the middle 1970s. When producer Aaron Spelling and his partner Leonard Goldberg first sent the idea to ABC, network executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner they called it "the worst idea we have ever heard." Aaron, however, had an existing contract in place that guaranteed him a payday for a script, so he convinced them they couldn't lose by letting him give it a try. They're probably glad they did!
#3 The Original Name Was 'The Alley Cats"
The original episode and concept that Spelling and Goldberg brought to ABC was titled "The Alley Cats" which was probably one of the reasons why they hated it. Thankfully, Kate Jackson, who had already been signed to a lead role before the show was even written, came up with a softer name, "Harry's Angles" since the boss in the script was named Harry. To avoid confusion with another hit show, "Harry O," they changed the name to Charlie, and the rest is history!
#4 They Had An Expensive Wardrobe Budget
Apparently, female detectives don't dress cheaply. Charlie's Angels stuck to its promise of glossy content, with viewers virtually guaranteed the ladies would fight crime while sporting the latest in high fashion. To that end, producers spared no expense in the show's wardrobe department, allotting $20,000 per episode. Even their shoes were designer, which really wasn't important considering they weren't shown that much. The costumes were changed a minimum of eight times per hour and usually included at least one swimsuit or tight form fitting top. Fawcett-Majors broke some kind of record when, during one of her guest appearances, she sported 12 different outfits.
#5 The Original Charlie Was Fired
Veteran actor Gig Young was originally cast to play Charlie on the show. Well, by play, he was supposed to lend his voice since he would never actually be making an appearance. When filming began, he showed up on the set for his voice over totally sloshed. Spelling fired him on the spot and frantically called in friend John Forsythe to fill in, telling him it was a one-time voice role. Forsythe showed up on set a short time later in his pajamas and ended up doing the part for all 5 seasons.
#6 Only Farrah Fawcett Posed For Her Poster
All three actresses on the show were asked to do a promotional poster but only Farrah agreed and now that photo is one of the most famous photos from the 70's! The photographer, Bruce McBloom, was a friend of the Majors family and had been enlisted by ABC to take publicity shots during the filming of the pilot in 1976. He showed up her house and she only had the red one-piece swimsuit to wear so he went with it, though it was supposed to be a bikini. She did her own hair and makeup, and he took just ten photographs. The iconic poster came out months before the show aired and sold over 12 million copies. In 2011, the iconic red bathing suit that Farrah wore in that 1976 poster became part of the Smithsonian's American cultural history collection.
#7 Farrah Fawcett Was Only On For One Season
People always associate Charlie's Angels with Farrah, but she only stayed on the show for one full season. Her contract was strange, stating she had to be off the set every day to be home in time to cook husband Lee Majors his dinner. When she began having issues with her scheduling, she decided to leave the weekly show. She also wanted to pursue film work now that her star power had hit the stratosphere (although her first few films didn't do much to further her career). The show was at its peak popularity when she made this choice, so the network sued her for breach of contract. In the end, she won but she had to agree to make six guest appearances in seasons 2 and 3. ABC feared the ratings would plummet but, Charlie's Angels continued to be a hit show with Cheryl Ladd playing her replacement as Jill's sister.
#8 Kate Jackson Began To Get Fidgety
The brainy Angel, Kate Jackson, didn't get along well with Cheryl Ladd, and made no bones about it. When Farrah left the show, the network renegotiated all of the casts contracts, which stipulated that they could not work on other projects while filming the series. Jackson was offered the role Meryl Streep eventually won an Oscar for in Kramer Vs Kramer but had to turn it down, making her very angry at the producers. Because of this, she held a grudge in the studio and even became difficult to work with. She was already complaining about the show's script, saying it was losing its quality. Eventually, Jackson was allowed to quit right before the 4th season started, but her role in the major film was lost forever.
#9 It Was Hard To Replace Kate
With Kate Jackson gone, someone had to become the new third angel and the producers had plenty to choose from! This included actresses such as Barbara Bach, Connie Sellecca, Shari Belafonte, Melanie Griffith and Michelle Pfeiffer! In the end, they picked the perfume model, Shelley Hack. Her character, Tiffany Welles, was pretty well liked but the producers only kept her around for 26 episodes, since ratings dropped. After Shelley Hack was fired, they had to find yet another angel replacement so they had a highly publicized campaign to find one. The producers chose the model and dance instructor, Tanya Roberts to play Julie Rogers but the audience didn't like her very much and the ratings sank even further.
#10 The Tried To Boost Ratings
The Love Boat was a popular show at the time on ABC about romantic happenings on a cruise ship. In order to try to bring more viewers back to Charlie's Angels, the producers decided to do a crossover between the shows as a two-hour episode for the season four opening. The network began switching around the show's time slot three times, which caused a bigger drop in ratings.
#11 The Show Had To Be Cancelled
In 1980, there was a actors' strike, which affected a lot of TV shows/movies, including Charlie's Angels. Despite attempts to save the show, in the end, the producers had to cancel it. Too many conflicts happened during the fifth and final season so it made sense to not do a 6th season. By the time it was axed it had slipped to near the bottom of the rating heap, which was pretty low considering it had been the top show for most of seasons 1 and 2.
#12 Jacklyn Smith Was The Only Angel To Stay The Entire Series Run
The show lasted 5 seasons and 110 episodes, but only one actress lasted throughout the whole thing. In the last episode, Jacklyn Smith was the only original angel on the show. It was rumored several times through the shows run that she was leaving, and several tabloids even named replacement Angels. It helped that she was well liked by the producers and the network and was given a pay increase after season 4 to stay on. There was only one other person on the show that appeared in all 110 episodes! David Doyle played Charlie's employee, John Bosley and aided the angels in every assignment. Even John Forsythe gave Charlie his voice for only 109 episodes.
#13 John Forsythe Was The Highest Paid Actor
Despite a small increase in her pay, Jaclyn Smith was not the highest paid on the show. John Forsythe ended up becoming the highest paid actor on TV per hour! He never even appeared in an episode and all he had to do was record his voice, so this was a really good job. The man who wasn't even originally suppose to voice more than one episode became a major part of the TV series. His opening words, "Once upon a time, three little girls went to the police academy, where they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie," changed the face of television forever. Though Forsythe was originally supposed to be seen in a few episodes, and ABC was insisting on it since they were paying him big bucks, producers left him just speaking through the Western Electric Speakerphone and never showing up in person.
#14 There Was Actually A Spin-Off
You know what is kind of ironic? ABC thought that a show about three female detectives would receive poor ratings but it ended up being the male version that got them. After the show ended, ABC ordered a spinoff show called Toni's Boys about 3 male detectives with a female boss. Well, that show idea ended up being the stupid one and it never made it past the pilot episode before being canceled.
#15 The Show Is Still Spawning Remakes
Toni's Boys wasn't the only attempt to do a spinoff, although it was the only one that did a male version. There was a Spanish Telemundo telenovela version called, Ãngeles in 1998 but it aired during the day and was not well received, and a German version titled Wilde Engel that lasted two seasons. Of course, there was the 2009 Charlie's Angels movie series with our favorite actresses Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu. The original Charlie, John Forsythe did the voice for those three movies! Then AVC tried to revive the series in 2011 with a new cast but that flopped instantly. Now, there is talk of rebooting the film franchise with three different actresses.