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‘Charlie’s Angels’ turns 40: 11 facts about the show

Jaclyn Smith, left, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson

Jaclyn Smith, left, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson were the original "Charlie's Angels." Credit: ABC

Good heavens, can it really be 40 years since “Charlie’s Angels” took wing?

The Aaron Spelling-produced series that made a star of Farrah Fawcett and introduced America to “jiggle TV,” premiered in the fall of 1976 — Sept. 22, specifically — and immediately became a ratings phenomenon. Viewers couldn’t get enough of Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson as the sexy trio of private eyes who worked for a mysterious millionaire named Charles Townsend, who was heard but never seen.

Here are 11 things about the show, which airs weekdays at 1 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Cozi TV, that you may not have known.

1. Jackson was originally cast as Smith’s character, Kelly Garrett, but preferred the role of Sabrina Duncan, the brains of the group, and asked to switch parts.

2. Fawcett left the show after the first season and was sued by the producers, which led to her losing the lead role in the 1978 movie “Foul Play” to Goldie Hawn.

3. David Doyle, who played the show’s comic relief, John Bosley, wanted the writers to rename his character because he was always being mistaken for “Happy Days” actor Tom Bosley.

4. Producers Leonard Goldberg and Aaron Spelling pitched the show to ABC with the title “The Alley Cats.”

5. Contractual obligations to the series caused Jackson to turn down the Meryl Streep role in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979).

6. Smith and Doyle were the only two actors who appeared in all five seasons.

7. Gig Young was hired to be the voice of Charlie but was fired when he arrived drunk to record his lines.

8. Among the “before they were famous” actors to guest star on “Charlie’s Angels” were Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kim Basinger, Jonathan Frakes and Tom Selleck. Veteran performers who made appearances included Dean Martin, Ida Lupino, Hugh O’Brian, Robert Reed, Cesar Romero and Barbara Stanwyck.

9. Speaking of Stanwyck, it was hoped that her guest stint as Charlie’s rival, who ran a detective agency featuring a male version of the Angels, would lead to a spinoff.

10. The Angels were nothing if not stylish. The wardrobe budget was $20,000 per episode and the characters usually wore about eight costumes each week.

11. The claim to fame for Shelley Hack prior to joining the show in season 4, as Jackson’s replacement, was appearing in a series of TV commercials for a perfume called — what else? — Charlie.


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