It was on September 22, 1976, when the first episode of Charlie’s Angels aired in the US. The show was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg who had already produced that other TV hit show Starsky and Hutch.
The original title of their new police drama was The Alley Cats which followed three women Alley, Lee and Catherine (Al-Lee-Cats) and was designed as a star vehicle for actress Kate Jackson.
As the series evolved with Jackson’s input, it developed into a series about three women working for a faceless man who gives his employees assignments over a speakerphone.
Then Jackson saw a painting of cherubs in Spelling’s office and suggested calling the series Harry’s Angels. As there was already was a series running on television called Harry O, the title became Charlie’s Angels and history was made.Second to be cast was actress Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe, the athletic Angel. Fawcett was well known as the “Bionic Housewife” to husband Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man). The third Angel cast was Jaclyn Smith. Smith auditioned for the role of Sabrina Duncan, the smart Angel, but walked away with the role off Kelly Garrett, the streetwise Angel, after Jackson decided to play the role of Sabrina.
John Forsythe became the unseen Charlie as a last-minute replacement after a big-name star showed up drunk.
Charlie’s Angels became an instant cultural phenomenon and shot to the top of the Nielsen ratings. The actresses soon found themselves on the cover of major magazines including Time and People.
However as Behind The Camera The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels (True Movies, Monday March 28 at 20h45) reveals all was not plain sailing.
Fawcett began to surpass her co-workers in popularity, partially due to her red swimsuit poster (which was released prior to the series) and her blonde mass of hair, which became known as the “Farrah” hairdo.
As Fawcett’s star started to rise, she began growing tired of the gruelling 14-hour days on the set. But what would happen if she walked away?
Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels stars Emmy Award winner Dan Castellaneta as Aaron Spelling with Tricia Helfer as Farah Fawcett-Majors, Christina Chambers as Jaclyn Smith and Lauren Stamile as Kate Jackson.
- Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels is broadcast on True Movies 1 (DStv Channel 138) on Monday March 28 at 20h45