Charlie's Angels

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Charlie's Angels
Created by Ivan Goff
Ben Roberts
Theme music composer Jack Elliott
Allyn Ferguson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes115 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Leonard Goldberg
Running time4850 minutes
Production company(s) Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Distributor Columbia Pictures Television
Original network ABC
Picture format 4:3 SDTV
16:9 HDTV
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 22, 1976 (1976-09-22) 
June 24, 1981 (1981-06-24)
Related shows Charlie's Angels (reboot series)

Charlie's Angels is an American crime drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22, 1976 to June 24, 1981, producing five seasons and 110 episodes. The series was created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts and was produced by Aaron Spelling. It follows the crime-fighting adventures of three women working in a private detective agency in Los Angeles, California, and originally starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett (billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors), and Jaclyn Smith in the leading roles and John Forsythe providing the voice of their boss, the unseen Charlie Townsend, who directed the crime-fighting operations of the "Angels" over a speakerphone. [1] There were a few casting changes: after the departure of Fawcett and Jackson came the additions of Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts. [2]

Crime fiction genre of fiction focusing on crime

Crime fiction is a literary genre that fictionalises crimes, their detection, criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as historical fiction or science fiction, but the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple subgenres, including detective fiction, courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers. Most crime drama focuses on crime investigation and does not feature the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements that are nearly ubiquitous to the genre.

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan.


Despite mixed reviews from critics and a reputation for merely being "Jiggle TV" (specifically emphasizing the sex appeal of the female leads), Charlie's Angels enjoyed huge popularity with audiences and was a top ten hit in the Nielsen ratings for its first two seasons. By the third season, however, the show had fallen from the top 10. The fourth season of the show saw a further decline in ratings; the changes could not stop the falling ratings and in 1981, after 110 episodes and five seasons, Charlie's Angels was canceled. The series continues to have a cult and pop culture following through syndication, DVD releases, and subsequent television shows. The show also spawned three feature film adaptations and a reboot television series in 2011.

Jiggle television television which uses the sexuality of young women as appeal to their audiences

Jiggle television is a term coined by NBC executive Paul Klein to criticize ABC's television production and marketing strategy under Fred Silverman. Klein referred to ABC's programs as "porn" in order to tap into the 1970s moral panic and anxiety over the spread of pornography, using the neologism to describe the use of female television celebrities moving in loose clothing or underwear in a way in which their breasts or buttocks could be seen to move, or "jiggle." An American invention, it was used to refer to programs such as Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman and Three's Company, which used the sexuality of young women as appeal to their audiences. The program's plots were often sexist, full of innuendo and suggestive language, and unrealistic in nature. Producers of such series would make sure that its lead female actors would appear in a bikini, one-piece swimsuit, negligée, underwear, or naked under a towel, in each show.

Popular culture is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs and objects that are dominant or ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Heavily influenced in modern times by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of people in a given society. Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. However, there are various ways to define pop culture. Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts. It is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture, and also through different theoretical perspectives such as psychoanalysis, structuralism, postmodernism, and more. The most common pop-culture categories are: entertainment, sports, news, politics, fashion/clothes, technology, and slang.

Broadcasting syndication is the license to broadcast television programs and radio programs by multiple television stations and radio stations, without going through a broadcast network. It is common in the United States where broadcast programming is scheduled by television networks with local independent affiliates. Syndication is less of a practice in the rest of the world, as most countries have centralized networks or television stations without local affiliates; although less common, shows can be syndicated internationally. The three main types of syndication are "first-run syndication", which is programming that is broadcast for the first time as a syndicated show and is made specifically to sell directly into syndication; "off-network syndication", which is the licensing of a program that was originally run on network TV or in some cases, first-run syndication ; and "public broadcasting syndication".


Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts came up with the idea for a series about three beautiful female private investigators as a breakthrough but also escapist television series. Producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg first considered actress Kate Jackson during the early pre-production stages of the series. She had proven popular with viewers in another police television drama, The Rookies . 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. Farrah Fawcett was next cast as Jill Munroe, but much like Jackson, did not audition for a role. She was offered a part by Spelling after he had viewed her performance in the 1976 film Logan's Run . Jaclyn Smith was among the hundreds of actresses who auditioned for the role of Kelly Garrett. Despite liking Smith, Spelling and Goldberg were wary about hiring her because their initial concept concerned a brunette, blonde, and red-headed woman. Smith was the only brunette who auditioned for the role and was cast only after producers liked the on-screen chemistry she shared with Jackson and Fawcett.

Ivan Goff was an Australian screenwriter, best known for his collaborations with Ben Roberts including White Heat (1949), Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) and the pilot for Charlie's Angels (1976).

Ben Roberts (writer) American writer

Benjamin Eisenberg Roberts was a film and television writer, producer and one of the creators of the Charlie's Angels and Time Express television series'. In 1958 he was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the Lon Chaney biopic Man of a Thousand Faces. He has also been nominated for two Emmy awards and an Edgar Award. In 1972, Roberts won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television series, drama for Mannix.

Aaron Spelling American film and television producer

Aaron Spelling was an American film and television producer. Some of his works include the TV programs Charlie's Angels (1976–81), The Love Boat (1977–86), Hart to Hart (1979–84), Dynasty (1981–89), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000), 7th Heaven (1996–2007), and Charmed (1998–2006). He also served as producer of Mod Squad (1968-1973), The Rookies (1972-1976), and Sunset Beach (1997-1999).

Producer Leonard Goldberg, had the initial idea three years previously, for a show that would be a cross between The Avengers and Honey West, a short-lived drama from the 1960s about a female private eye. [3] Goff and Roberts had first titled the series The Alley Cats in which the three females (named Allison, Lee, and Catherine) would reside in alleys and wear whips and chains. Jackson disapproved of the title, and since she was given semi-control over the development of the series, she encouraged producers to find a new title. It was Jackson who decided the three women would be called "Angels" after seeing a picture of three angels hanging in Spelling's office, and the series became known as Harry's Angels. This title was dropped, however, when ABC did not want to run into conflict with the series Harry O , and was thereby changed to Charlie's Angels. [4]

<i>Harry O</i> television series

Harry O, sometimes spelled Harry-O, is an American private detective series that aired for two seasons on ABC from 1974 to 1976. The series starred David Janssen, and Jerry Thorpe was executive producer. Harry O followed the broadcast of two pilot films: firstly Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On and secondly Smile Jenny, You're Dead, both starring Janssen.

In the initial concept of the series, the three females' boss would be a millionaire who often aided them in their assignments; however, Jackson and Spelling decided it would be more interesting to have the boss's identity remain a secret. With this, millionaire Charlie Townsend was an unseen character on the series who only spoke to the Angels via a Western Electric speakerphone. John Forsythe, who played the unseen Charlie Townsend, recorded his lines in an audio studio and was never on set. Thus, Forsythe rarely met any of his female co-stars. Some years later, he bumped into Farrah Fawcett at the tennis courts, as he recalled, "I was coming off the court when she came up to me and said, 'Charlie! I finally met Charlie!'" Forsythe was offered the 'Charlie' role in a panicky late-night phone call from Spelling after the original choice, Gig Young, showed up too intoxicated to read his lines. "I didn't even take my pajamas off – I just put on my topcoat and drove over to Fox. When it was finished, Aaron Spelling said, 'That's perfect.' And I went home and went back to bed". [1]

Western Electric Company was an American electrical engineering and manufacturing company that served as the primary supplier to AT&T from 1881 to 1996, and to the local Bell Operating Companies until 1984. The company was responsible for many technological innovations and seminal developments in industrial management. It also served as the purchasing agent for the member companies of the Bell System.

John Forsythe American film and television actor

John Forsythe was an American stage, film/television actor, producer, narrator, drama teacher and philanthropist whose career spanned six decades. He also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.

Gig Young actor

Gig Young was an American actor. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). In 1978, he committed suicide after murdering his wife.

Spelling and Goldberg decided to add actor David Doyle to the cast as John Bosley, an employee of Charlie, who would frequently aid the Angels in their assignments. Although ABC had approved of a pilot film, they were concerned about how audiences would accept three women fighting crime on their own. ABC executives brought in David Ogden Stiers as Scott Woodville, who would act as the chief backup to the Angels and Bosley's superior; he would also be depicted as the organizer of the plan, in similar fashion to Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible , a series for which Goff and Roberts had written. [5]

David Doyle (actor) American actor

David Fitzgerald Doyle was an American actor best known for his portrayal of John Bosley on the 1970s TV series Charlie's Angels.

David Ogden Stiers American actor

David Allen Ogden Stiers was an American actor and conductor. Born in Peoria, Illinois, Stiers was primarily raised in Oregon. He attended the University of Oregon before enrolling at the Juilliard School in New York City, from where he graduated in 1972. He went on to appear in numerous productions on Broadway, and originated the role of Feldman in The Magic Show, in which he appeared for four years between 1974 and 1978.

<i>Mission: Impossible</i> television series 1966

Mission: Impossible is an American television series, created and initially produced by Bruce Geller, chronicling the exploits of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). In the first season the team is led by Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill; Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, takes charge for the remaining seasons. Each episode opens with a fast-paced montage that unfolds as the series' theme music composed by Lalo Schifrin plays, after which in a prologue Briggs or Phelps receives his instructions from a voice delivered on a recording which then self-destructs.

The 74-minute pilot film initially aired on March 21, 1976. The story focuses heavily on Kelly Garrett (a role intended for Jackson before she and Smith swapped) who poses as an heiress who returns home to gain her father's successful winery. In the end of the film the three women are caught in a bind and Scott attempts to save them, but to no avail, leaving them to solve the dilemma on their own (and with the help of allies made during the story). ABC executives were somewhat disappointed in this initial project, fearing there was more emphasis on camp than serious drama. After viewing the pilot, Spelling encouraged executives to delete Scott Woodville from the series; according to The Charlie's Angels Casebook, audiences also reacted negatively to the character. Bosley was kept, made slightly less inept than depicted in the pilot, and was given many of Woodville's attributes and responsibilities. The series formally premiered on Wednesday, September 22, 1976 at 10:00pm.

The 74-minute pilot film that aired on March 21, 1976, received enormous ratings. However, ABC - who thought this was one of the worst ideas for a TV series they had ever heard - didn't believe the figures and showed the pilot again a week later to check. The ratings were just as high, even for a repeat screening. [3]


In the initial concept, Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, and Kelly Garrett have graduated from the police academy in Los Angeles, California. Despite proving their capability during training, all three have subsequently been assigned to be a meter maid, office worker, and crossing guard, respectively. Dissatisfied with these jobs, they are recruited to work for the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. All of this is explained in the opening credit sequence; neither the pilot film nor subsequent series ever actually depicted an "origin story" as they are seen to have been working as investigators for some time as of the start of the pilot.

Their boss, Charlie Townsend, who nicknames them "Angels", is never seen full-face, but is often seen from the back, mostly in the company of beautiful women. Charlie gives the Angels and his associate John Bosley their assignments via a Western Electric speakerphone; he never meets them face-to-face, which leads to recurring queries from the 'Angels' as to when or if he will ever join them on assignment.

In season two, San Francisco police academy graduate Kris Munroe takes the place of her older sister, Jill, in the trio; in the fourth season, Tiffany Welles, a Boston police academy graduate, takes Sabrina's place; and in the fifth and final season, model-turned-private investigator in training Julie Rogers fills the void left after Tiffany's departure when she is given a temporary private detective license.

Charlie's Angels was generally formatted in the way of a procedural drama much like the vast majority of other crime shows of the era. Many of the episodes follow a regular structure whereby a crime is committed, the 'Angels' are given the case details, and then they go undercover to solve the crime. Inevitably, the final scene takes place back at the Townsend office with Charlie offering his congratulations for a job well done. Most episodes have stand-alone plots and are usually not referenced in future episodes.

Cast and characters

Kate Jackson Sabrina Duncan Main 19761979
Farrah Fawcett Jill MunroeMainGuest19761977
Jaclyn Smith Kelly GarrettMain19761981
Cheryl Ladd Kris MunroeMain19771981
Shelley Hack Tiffany WellesMain19791980
Tanya Roberts Julie RogersMain19801981
David Doyle John BosleyMain19761981
John Forsythe (voice)Charles "Charlie" TownsendMain19761981

Note: Jaclyn Smith and David Doyle are the only actors to appear in all 110 episodes of the series.John Forsythe does not take part in the fourth season episode "Avenging Angel".

Cast changes

Season one cast (1976-1977): Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson Charlies Angels cast 1976.JPG
Season one cast (19761977): Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson

Over the course of its five-year run, Charlie's Angels had a series of highly-publicized cast changes. [6] The first of these took place in the spring of 1977, just after the conclusion of the first season. Fawcett turned in her resignation just before the season one finale aired on May 4, 1977. Fawcett's decision not to return for a second season triggered a lawsuit against the actress by ABC and Spelling. [7]

During the 1977 summer hiatus of the series, ABC and Fawcett entered a legal battle over her contract. At the beginning of the series, all three female leads signed five-year contracts, and the network was insistent that they live up to their commitments. Business partners Leonard Goldberg and Aaron Spelling tried to work out a deal with Fawcett and her agents. Goldberg and Spelling had arranged for her to make one film during her summer hiatuses, and her choice over subsequent television shows and miniseries. ABC even agreed to raise her salary from $5,000 to $8,000 a week, but she declined the offers. ABC reluctantly released her from her series contract in the summer of 1977. However, she was assigned to another contract with ABC, stating that since she left her contract four years early that she would return to the series later on in its run for six guest appearances. Fawcett would return as Jill Munroe on Charlie's Angels for three guest appearances in season three, and again returned for three guest spots in season four.

Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe Cheryl Ladd Fotos International 1977.jpg
Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe

As Fawcett departed the series, ABC began searching for her replacement. Executives eventually noticed singer-turned-actress Cheryl Ladd and offered her a screen test. Initially, Ladd refused the opportunity for a screen test, but after lobbying from studio executives, she relented. Although executives noticed Ladd was inexperienced, they saw promise in her performance and signed her to a four-year contract. In an effort to keep the hype the series had with Fawcett, Ladd was written in the series as her sister, San Francisco police academy graduate Kris Munroe. [8]

Despite a mixed reception from critics at the beginning of season two in September 1977, Charlie's Angels lost just a small percentage of its season one audience with the introduction of Ladd, but Kate Jackson believed the inclusion of Ladd damaged the series considerably. Jackson and Ladd reportedly never got along with one another. [9]

Ratings dropped during the third season. Jackson began to complain about the show's diminishing script quality and stated that initially the series focused on "classic detective work", but had become more of a "cop story of the week". During the third season, Jackson was offered the part of Joanna Kramer in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) with Dustin Hoffman but the producers refused to reorganize the shooting schedule to allow Jackson time off to shoot the film. The part of Joanna ultimately went to Meryl Streep, who won an Academy Award for her performance. Upset by this situation, Jackson decided to leave the series. Casting calls for Jackson's replacement began during the summer of 1979. Several up-and-coming actresses were considered for the role, including Barbara Bach, Connie Sellecca, Shari Belafonte, and newcomer Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer was a personal favorite with some of the producers, however, her screen test showed her inexperienced acting talents and she was passed over for the part. ABC producers auditioned Charlie perfume girl Shelley Hack and cast her as Jackson's replacement. Producer Spelling loved the idea of the headline "The Charlie Girl Becomes A Charlie's Angel". [10] Hack debuted in the fourth-season premiere as Tiffany Welles, an elegant police graduate from Boston. In hiring Hack, Spelling's priority for season four was to "bring back the glamour" [11] while ABC hoped Hack's sophisticated personality would bring an interesting new mystique and intrigue to the series. [12] However, after an initial spike in the ratings, they began to erode, so in an attempt to revitalize decreasing ratings and regain popularity, ABC released Hack from her contract in February 1980. In an interview with People , Hack said, "They can say I didn't work out, but it isn't true. What happened was a network war. A business decision was made. Change the timeslot or bring on some new publicity. How to get publicity? A new Angel hunt. Who is the obvious person to replace? I am—the new kid on the block." [13]

During casting calls for Hack's replacement, some two thousand candidates were auditioned. After a series of false commitments, ABC selected model and former dance instructor Tanya Roberts. She was pictured on the cover of People magazine and featured in an article surrounding the series. The article, entitled "Is the Jiggle Up?", asked if Roberts could save Charlie's Angels from cancellation. Executive Brett Garwood stated, "We hope to keep the show going for next year, but nothing's certain." [14]

Roberts debuted in the fifth-season premiere as Julie Rogers, a streetwise fighter and model, but the season premiere episode drew mild ratings. Between November 1980 and June 1981, the series was broadcast in three different timeslots and its ratings further declined, so ABC cancelled the show in the spring of 1981.


Cast for seasons 2-3 (left to right): Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, and Kate Jackson Charlies angels 1977.JPG
Cast for seasons 2–3 (left to right): Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, and Kate Jackson

Critical reception

Charlie's Angels became known as "Jiggle TV". Jiggle TV was also called "Tits & Ass Television" or "T&A" for short [15] and in the 1970s the amount of sex on television increased, as did its ratings, [16] creating social controversies and consequences., [17] by critics who believed that the TV series had no intelligence or substance. These characterizations stemmed from the fact that the lead actresses frequently dressed scantily or provocatively as part of their undercover characters (including roller derby girl, beauty pageant contestant, maid, female prisoner, or just bikini-clad), and the belief that their clothing was a means of attracting viewers. [18] "Jiggle TV" is seen as trashy and escapist entertainment. [19]

Farrah Fawcett once attributed the TV 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." [20]

Reflecting on the 1970s female-driven drama, Jaclyn Smith, who was the only 'Angel' to star on all five seasons, states how Charlie's Angels changed her – and TV audiences across America. Smith said, "It was ground-breaking. It was about three emotionally and financially independent women. We shot at beautiful locations with fancy fast cars, and they cared about each other, so there was a heart to the show. Critics said that as actresses we were sexually exploited, but it was a nursery rhyme. We were in a bathing suit at the beach, and if there was a hint of a love scene, it was so proper. I think the producers were smart. They wanted to bring in that younger audience and did want families to watch together." [21] Smith adds, "Each of our characters had their own unique personality, yet the show was all very cohesive - it just worked. We really were all good friends and that showed on the screen." [22]

Cheryl Ladd believes the TV series was "inspirational" to women despite the critics calling it a "jiggle show". She notes, "there hadn't been a show like this on the air [with] three powerful women who had the latest hairdos, wore the coolest clothes and could walk around in a bikini. We were very inspirational to a lot of young women. Young women would write us and say, 'I want to be like you. I want to be a cop when I grow up and taking chances to be something else other than the acceptable school teacher or secretary'." [23] Charlie's Angels was called "Jiggle TV"; Ladd says, "Which made me laugh, I never went braless, and I was married and the mother of a 2-year-old. The 'Angels' were grown-up Girl Scouts. We never slept with anyone; my most "Aaron Spelling" moment was wrestling an alligator. With the feminist movement, we were kind of half-heroes, half-goats." [24]

Kate Jackson has stated that the first season of Charlie's Angels was the TV show's high point, and it was the most fun for herself, Smith, and Fawcett. Jackson said, "When you think about Charlie's Angels, you think about three specific people." [25] Jackson added, "I don't know what the connection that the three of us have is, but it is there, and it is something extremely special. I think that is the reason the show worked." [26]

Time magazine called Charlie's Angels an "aesthetically ridiculous, commercially brilliant brainstorm surfing blithely atop the Zeitgeist's seventh wave". [27]

Camille Paglia, an American academic and social critic, said that Charlie's Angels was an "effervescent action-adventure showing smart, bold women working side by side in fruitful collaboration". [28]

Public reception

Charlie's Angels proved to be a runaway hit in the 197677 season in its first of five time slots, Wednesdays at 10:00pm, where it followed Baretta . Facing little competition from CBS and NBC, Charlie's Angels finished fifth in Nielsen ratings in the spring of 1977 with an average 26.0 rating. The three lead actresses were suddenly propelled to stardom, with Kate Jackson later commenting that the first few months were like being in the eye of a storm. Farrah Fawcett became hugely popular and was branded a phenomenon. However, the situation off screen was not as rewarding. The long working hours on set, combined with numerous calls for photo shoots, wardrobe fittings, and promotional interviews, took 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.

With season two, the series moved up an hour to the Wednesday 9:00pm time slot, where it stayed for three years. During that time, the series competed with such popular shows as One Day at a Time , The Jeffersons , and Diff'rent Strokes . The transition from Fawcett to Cheryl Ladd in the second season proved to be popular with viewers. While viewership dipped marginally in the second season, the series still remained in the top five for the 197778 season, placing fourth in the ratings, tying with 60 Minutes and All in the Family . In the third season, viewership stabilized, but the series began losing traction as it ranked twelfth behind newcomers Mork & Mindy , The Ropers , and Taxi for the 197879 season. With Jackson's departure and Shelley Hack entering the cast, the show's fourth season saw some ratings erosion as it ranked seventeenth for the 197980 season.

The fifth season saw the final cast change with Tanya Roberts. The final season was plagued by the 1980 actors' strike, causing a delayed premier date. In addition, the series was shuffled around with three different time slots: Sundays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 8:00pm, and finally Wednesdays at 8:00pm, where it remained for the remainder of its run. Despite generally receiving mild competition from its rival networks on these time slots, Charlie's Angels placed fifty-ninth out of sixty-five shows for the 198081 season. ABC thereby canceled the series after five seasons and 110 episodes.

Nielsen ratings / broadcast history

The Charlie's Angels 74-minute pilot film that aired on March 21, 1976, and received enormous ratings. However, the ABC network — who thought this was one of the worst ideas for a TV series they’d ever heard — did not believe the figures and showed it again a week later to check. [29] At the time of Spelling pitching the pilot of Charlie's Angels to the network, ABC executive Michael Eisner told Spelling that his pitch had to be "one of the worst ideas I've ever heard," and ABC Executive Barry Diller claimed no one would ever watch it. [7] Despite the ABC networks disbelief in the project, the repeat ratings were just as high, even for a secondary screening, and a TV legend was born. [3]

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:

Home media

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all five seasons of Charlie's Angels on DVD in region one over the span of ten years, with the fifth and final season released as a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, [32] available exclusively through & and only in the U.S. Additionally, seasons 1–3 have been released on DVD in regions 2 and 4.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Charlie's Angels. [33] They subsequently re-released the first season on DVD on January 21, 2014. [34]

On September 6, 2016, Mill Creek re-released Charlie's Angels: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. [35] The 20-disc set contains all 110 episodes of the series.

SeasonEp #Release datesNotes
Region 1Region 2Region 4
123May 27, 2003
January 21, 2014 (re-release)
June 23, 2003September 29, 2010Includes the 74-minute pilot TV movie
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, 2009TBATBAThe two-hour episode "Love Boat Angels" appears as the syndicated version
516January 1, 2013TBATBAThe two-hour episode "Angel in Hiding" appears as the syndicated version
Complete Series110September 25, 2012
September 6, 2016 (re-release)

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


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired Nielsen ratings [36]
First airedLast airedRankRating
Pilot 1March 21, 1976 (1976-03-21)625.8 [lower-alpha 1]
1 22September 22, 1976 (1976-09-22)May 4, 1977 (1977-05-04)525.8
2 26September 14, 1977 (1977-09-14)May 10, 1978 (1978-05-10)424.4 [lower-alpha 2]
3 24September 13, 1978 (1978-09-13)May 16, 1979 (1979-05-16)1224.4
4 26September 12, 1979 (1979-09-12)May 7, 1980 (1980-05-07)2020.9 [lower-alpha 3]
5 17November 30, 1980 (1980-11-30)June 24, 1981 (1981-06-24)N/AN/A

Attempted spin-off

ABC attempted to create a spin-off of Charlie's Angels in 1980 called Toni's Boys. [37] The backdoor pilot aired near the end of season four, simply titled "Toni's Boys" (season 4, episode 23). The concept was essentially a sex 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—Cotton Harper (Stephen Shortridge), Matt Parrish (Bruce Bauer), and Bob Sorensen (Bob Seagren)—who took direction from Toni, and solved crimes in a manner similar to the Angels. The show was not picked up as a regular series for the following season. [38]


The character Dan Tanna (played by Robert Urich) from the detective series Vega$ appeared in the episode "Angels in Vegas" a week before the Vega$ season one debut. The crossover was simply used to reintroduce the Dan Tanna character and to promote Vega$ as an ongoing series. [39]

In the episode "Love Boat Angels", the angels went on another popular "Jiggle TV" show, The Love Boat , and met the crew. Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, and Lauren Tewes guest starred as their The Love Boat characters. The episode aired on September 12, 1979 as the fourth-season premiere, the debut episode of Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles, [40] and placed number one in the Nielson ratings for the week. [41]

Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Cheryl Ladd also appeared as themselves in the first episode of the Spelling-produced comedy series, The San Pedro Beach Bums , in the fall of 1977. [42]


The show was first syndicated on local stations such as KTLA in Los Angeles and WNEW in New York in September 1981, [43] and later on TNT, TV Land, Cloo, ION, Cozi TV, and MeTV. As of September, 2011, all five seasons of the show can be purchased in the USA on iTunes. 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. It is currently airing on the U.S. digital broadcast television network MeTV and the streaming service Pluto TV on its classic television channel, 515.

Other versions

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

Feature films

The Charlie's Angels 1976 original television series inspired Flower Films production company's two films, Charlie's Angels (2000) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), with John Forsythe returning as 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.

Charlie's Angels is a 2000 American action comedy film based on the Charlie's Angels 1976 original television series. Unlike the original series, which had dramatic elements, the film featured more comical elements than were seen in the series. The film was directed by McG, adapted by screenwriters Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, and John August, and starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu as three women working in a private detective agency in Los Angeles. John Forsythe reprised his role as the unseen Charlie's voice from the original series. Making cameo appearances are Tom Green (who was dating Barrymore at the time of production) and LL Cool J.

A sequel, entitled Full Throttle , was released in 2003, directed by McG and written by John August, and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. It is the sequel to 2000s Charlie's Angels , itself based on the 1976 television original series Charlie's Angels. In an ensemble cast, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu return as the angels Natalie, Dylan, and Alex, respectively. It also features Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Carrie Fisher, Shia LaBeouf, Robert Patrick, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Matt LeBlanc, Luke Wilson, John Cleese, and Rodrigo Santoro, with Jaclyn Smith reprising her role as Kelly Garrett, and Bernie Mac as Bosley's brother. This was John Forsythe's final film appearance before his retirement and his death in 2010. The film opened in the United States on June 27, 2003, and was Number One at the box office for that weekend, also making a worldwide total of $259.2 million. [44]

In 2017, a reboot of the 'Charlie's Angels film franchise' is planned with a new 'Charlie's Angels film' - this time Sony Pictures Entertainment has elected to put American actress, director, and producer Elizabeth Banks in the director's chair. As The Hollywood Reporter first broke back in September, Banks will also produce the upcoming film with partner and husband Max Handelman. In April 2016, Banks signed up to direct a revival of the classic Charlie's Angels TV series. [45] [46] Banks commented that, "Charlie’s Angels, for me, is one of the original brands to celebrate the empowered woman since its debut in the 70s,” Banks said. “This film honors the legacy of Charles Townsend and his agency while introducing a new era of modern and global Angels. I couldn’t be more excited to work with Kristen, Naomi and Ella to bring this chapter to fans around the world." [47]

In July 2018, it was announced that Director Elizabeth Banks has found her Charlie's Angels cast to star in the new reboot 2019 feature film. Variety confirmed that the three new lead 'Angels' are Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska. Banks will portray the role of Bosley. Kristen Smith commented about the new reboot project that, "You take a story that’s usually kind of, for lack of a better word, not silly, but just kind of funny, campy. The movie should still be fun but, like, if you ground it and make it about women that really know how to help each other, it’ll be perfect to release now. Like, we’re all together and strong." [47] The most recent draft of the script is written by Jay Basu and Banks, based on earlier drafts by Craig Mazin and Semi Chellas. [48]


Four women (including future star Tea Leoni) 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. [49] From 1998–1999, Telemundo and Sony produced a show called Ángeles. [50] 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  [ de ], 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 film entitled Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels aired on NBC; it was based on the book Charlie's Angels Casebook, by Jack Condon and David Hofstede.

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. [51] [52] Developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar for ABC, the reboot series premiered by the network on September 22, 2011. On October 14, 2011, ABC canceled the reboot series after one season, [53] due to low ratings.

Subsequent Angels


Unofficial Angels

Collectible items

During the TV show's run, Hasbro Industries produced an extensive range of Charlie's Angels merchandise, which was distributed in the US, the UK, and other international markets. [62] A numerous variety of collectible items were produced, including two versions of dolls, boardgames, numerous posters, several sets of trading cards, notebooks, a lunchbox and thermos set, Charlie's Angels toy van, children's beauty products and even record albums. Author Sherrie A. Inness, in the text 'Disco Divas: Women and Popular Culture in the 1970s' writes that "Charlie's Angels merchandise was big business, Hasbro Industries spent over $2.5 million to advertise its Charlie's Angels dolls". [63]

In the UK, as was common with many popular US programs of the era, a series of tie-in hardcover annuals were published by World International Publishing Ltd, containing stories, comics, photos, puzzles and features on the stars. There are four Charlie's Angels annuals in total. [64]

Although it was not connected to the show, a 1976 poster of Farrah Fawcett sporting a red bathing suit became the biggest selling poster in history with 20 million copies sold. This poster also helped the burgeoning popularity of the series. The red swimsuit that helped make Farrah Fawcett a 1970s icon became part of the Smithsonian’s collection in 2011. [65] The picture has been immortalized as a Black Label Barbie Collection doll and the legendary red bathing suit has been donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The designer of that swimsuit is Norma Kamali. [66]


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 [67] and Bill Titcombe.

In June 2018, a six-issue limited comic book series based on the television series was launched by Dynamite Entertainment. [68] A crossover comic book series with Charlie's Angels and The Bionic Woman , will be released on July 3, 2019. [69]

See also

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