Tuesday 20 September 2016

Charlie's Angels at 40

It takes some believing but on Thursday 22nd September, it will be 40 years to the day since TV classic Charlie’s Angels first aired on American TV.

The original TV show ran for 5 seasons, producing 110 episodes and making mega-stars of the three angels namely Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith. 

It detailed the adventures of three beautiful women working in a private detective agency in Los Angeles, owned by a secretive millionaire by the name of Charlie.

Despite initially gaining mixed reviews from critics, the world loved it and the show quickly gained a top 10 rating.

Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson was originally offered the part of Kelly Garrett on the back of her performance in The Rookies, but the role of Sabrina Duncan appealed to her more and she successfully requested a change.

Farrah Fawcett
Farrah Fawcett was next to be cast as Jill Monroe and similarly to Jackson she did not need to audition for the role. 

Producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg were so impressed with her performance in the big screen blockbuster Logan’s Run (1976), that they offered her the part on the back of it.

Jaclyn Smith was one of hundreds of actresses who auditioned for the role of Kelly Garrett and won through mainly due to her on-screen chemistry with the other two leading ladies.

Jaclyn Smith
Indeed, Spelling and Goldberg originally intended for the three to be made up from a blonde, a brunette and a redhead, but changed their minds upon seeing how well Smith blended in with the other two.

Unbelievably the show was originally to be called “The Alley Cats” with the three lady private eyes living in alleys, wearing whips and chains!

But Jackson, who had some control over the development of the series, was shocked at the idea and begged the producers to think again. You do wonder about the longevity of the series had it ended up going down that route.

Kate Jackson also came up with the idea of calling them "Angels" after seeing a picture of three angels hanging on the wall in Spelling’s office, and soon enough the name of “Harry’s Angels” came to light. 

But with TV company ABC not wanting any confusion with their other major series at the time Harry O, the Angels very soon became the property of Charlie.

Over its 5 year run the show had a number of high profile cast changes with Jaclyn Smith being the only lead actor to remain throughout. 

Cheryl Ladd as Kris Monroe, Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles and Tanya Roberts as Julie Rogers all joined the series to mixed success and reviews.

Original cast reunited at the 2006 Emmy awards  

40 years down the line and Kate Jackson is now 67 years of age and is later remembered for going on to star in TV's Scarecrow and Mrs King in the early 1980’s. 

It was in this series, made by her own production company, where she developed an interest in producing and directing. 

After suffering breast cancer in the late 80’s, she has gone on to dedicate herself to speaking on the subject.

Jaclyn Smith (always my favourite Angel if I’m honest) has appeared in a number of TV movies and had a recurring role in the TV series The District. 

She actually reprised the Kelly Garrett role for a cameo in the first of the big screen adaptations Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle – the only original Angel to feature in either version.

Now 70, she also battled breast cancer in 2003 and featured in a documentary about the illness in 2010.

Sadly Farrah Fawcett is no longer with us, passing away from cancer in June 2009 at the age of 62.

Diagnosed with anal cancer 3 years previously, she featured in a 2 hour documentary outlining her battle entitled Farrah’s Story, filmed by herself and friend Alana Stewart (ex wife of both Rod Stewart and George Hamilton IV). 

She died with long-term partner Ryan O’Neal and Alana Stewart at her bedside.

Happy birthday Angels – it sure was fun!

Monday 19 September 2016

Monday, Monday: Mama Cass Would be 75 Today.

The wonderful Mama Cass Elliott would have been 75 today.

Born Ellen Naomi Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, she was a member of the Mamas and the Papas singing quartet.

There are differing stories as to where she adopted the name of Cass. It is thought that she took the name while at High School as a tribute to actress Peggy Cass, although it has also been said that her father nicknamed her Cass after the Trojan prophetess of the same name. The Elliott surname was to honour a friend who had died in a road accident.

The Mamas and the Papas has numerous hits including Monday, Monday and California Dreaming and after they broke up she went on to develop a successful solo career.

A rather large lady, she was certainly proof that you didn’t need to have film star looks or be as skinny as a rake to be successful. Standing at 5ft 5ins tall and weighing approx. 18 stone, she often went on a variety of crash diets, presumably weakening her body in the process.

She passed away at the very young age of 32 after performing 2 sold out shows at the London Palladium. She returned to the Mayfair flat she had been borrowing (owned by Harry Nilsson), the same flat where drummer Keith Moon would die 4 years later – see post “Moon the Loon at 70”

With Johnny Cash
Her passing was finally attributed to heart failure, although for many years there was an urban legend that she had choked to death (a half eaten sandwich was found at the scene).

Another star who left us far too early, she had an amazing contralto voice and who knows the fame she may have achieved had she lived.