Fawcett, Smith, Jackson and Aaron SpellingIt was on September 22, 1976, when ABC-TV aired the first episode of Charlie's Angels. The show was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, who had already produced two other hit-shows for ABC-TV, The Rookies and Starsky and Hutch.  Back  in 1974, Goldberg had the initial concept  for Angels, that was originally  titled, The Alley Cats.  The show was about three woman Alley, Lee and Catherine (Al-Lee-Cats) which was to be a cross between The Avengers and Honey West.   This new show was to be  the "Star Vehicle" for the actress, Kate Jackson.  As the series evolved with Jackson's input, it developed  into a series about three woman working for a faceless man who gives his "Angels" work assignments over a speakerphone.  Then Jackson saw a painting of cherubs in Spelling's office and suggested calling the series Harry's Angels, which the title had to be changed due to another show already on the air titled Harry O. Then entered the writing team of Ben Roberts and Ivan Goff who created what we know today as the series Charlie's Angels.

With Jackson set, the producers had to find two more Angels.  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.

The pilot was filmed in late 1975 and aired on March 21, 1976.  It was one of the highest rated  TV movies, receiving a 59% share of the viewing audience.  ABC thought this was a mistake (and one of the worst ideas for a prospective TV series), so they re-aired the TV movie a week later, and it's ratings were just as high.  

Charlie's Angels was a HUGE hit of the fall season airing every Wednesday night, at 10pm (PST).   The actresses soon  found themselves on the cover of major magazines Time, People, TV Guide,  and and were inundated by fan mail.   But Fawcett began to surpass her co-workers in popularity, partially due to a "Red Swimsuit" poster (which was released prior to the series) and her blonde mass of hair, which became known as the "Farrah" 'do. 

Smith, Fawcett, Doyle

As Fawcett's star started to rise, she began growing tired of the grueling 14-hour days on the set.  And by the end of the season, Fawcett announced that was leaving the series to pursue a film career.  Though Fawcett didn't have a signed contract, the producers took her  to court for a breach of contract.  

With one of three Angels flying the coop, the series was left in limbo.  Would Fawcett return?   Would it be cancelled?   What fate would be in store for this hit TV series?

History Page | 1977

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