In the mid 1970s, three beautiful women who would have easily been dubbed supermodels or Playboy centrefolds became crime fighters in the series Charlie’s Angels.
Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts for executive producer Aaron Spelling, the original name for the series was The Alley Cats, but it was soon changed when actress Kate Jackson didn’t like the connotation of three woman being called cats. She came up with idea of referring to the women as angels.
The series was then called Harry’s Angels, but because of a conflict with another series titled Harry O, ABC TV renamed the show Charlie’s Angels.
Jackson was chosen first because of her work on the series The Rookies for the role of Kelly Garrett, but preferred the role of Sabrina Duncan. Farrah Fawcett-Majors was chosen second for the role of Jill Munro, because of her work in the film Logan’s Run.
Jaclyn Smith was the only actress who auditioned – her on-screen chemistry with Jackson and Fawcett-Majors landed her the third part, as angel Kelly Garrett.
A 90 minute pilot was aired in March 1976, with the writers and producers working out the story kinks and the series debuted in September 1976 on ABC Television.
The three are shown as recent Police Academy graduates, who are given low-level jobs and are recruited to work with the Townsend Agency to make a difference in their community.
The three would investigate and help the unfortunate, aided by their unknown boss and patron Charlie Townsend, who was never seen, but only heard via speakerphone, with his assistant John Bosley (David Doyle) aiding the three Angels whenever possible.
Despite the network’s lack of confidence in three women as crime fighters, the show was an instant hit, with the angels becoming icons of television and pop culture darlings. Nicknamed Jiggle TV, the show easily won its TV ratings slot each week.
With all the attention, at the end of the first season Farrah Fawcett-Majors opted to leave and was replaced by Cheryl Ladd, who played Kris Munroe, Jill’s sister. Ladd initially turned down the opportunity but then was convinced to sign a four year contract to become an Angel.
In the third season, with scripts that weren’t to her liking, Jackson decided to leave and was replaced by model/actress Shelley Hack. The new trio’s ratings fell farther and Hack was replaced with dancer Tanya Roberts. Bad ratings and a lack of chemistry ended the series in 1981.
But for the 1970s, the series made an impact showing off beautiful women and their ability to solve crimes. In the 21st century, the series was rebooted into films, successfully bringing small screen to big screen.