After “Charlie’s Angels” debuted on television in 1976, audiences across the country tuned in to watch the three “angels” ― originally Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson ― fight crime as private detectives. Cheryl Ladd joined the popular series in its second season, and as she tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” in an upcoming interview, she saw incredible appeal in playing this type of female lead.
“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,” Ladd says.
But it was precisely that fashion, hair and bikini-wearing that made some critics of “Charlie’s Angels” dismiss the series as doing little more than parading around attractive women without featuring any real substance or depth. Ladd and the other stars of the show were frustrated by this characterization and felt that criticism focusing solely on their sex appeal was short-sighted.
“It irritated the crap out of us that the critics would say, ‘Yeah, it’s a jiggle show,’” she says. “Nobody thinks it’s Shakespeare, [but] at the same time, we were very inspirational to a lot of young women.”
Some of those women, Ladd points out, would express as much in fan mail, where they would cite the show’s positive influence on their lives.
“Young women ... would write in and say, ‘I want to be like you. I’m going to be a cop when I grow up’ ― taking chances to be something else other than the ‘acceptable’ schoolteacher or secretary,” Ladd says. “It’s hard for young women to understand that that’s the way it was then.”
Ladd’s full interview airs Saturday, Sept. 24, on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” at 10 p.m. ET. You can also watch full episodes on demand via the Watch OWN app.
Another “Charlie’s Angels” star opens up: