CHARLIE’S ANGELS: Angel’s In Paradise, September 14, 1977

Written By: Greg Howell - Feb• 23•14

Charlie's Angels, Farrah, Cheryl LaddIn the spring of 1976, a new television genre was officially launched. A jiggly television movie starringFarrah Fawcett, Jacqueline Smith, and TV series veteran Kate Jackson (Dark Shadows, The Rookies), surpassed anyone’s expectations, scoring a staggering 55% share of the TV audience. Naturally, ABC, under new leadership from TV programming genius Fred Silverman, scheduled the movie for a fall series and promoted the upcoming series, Charlie’s Angels, over the summer with posters, dolls, bubble gum cards, and magazine covers. It didn’t matter that most episodes featured predictable writing or simplistic plots. Audiences were tuning in to watch the three beautiful ladies, each who had more acting chops than many scripts utilized.  The show stirred much controversy, even from ABC’s own department of Standards and Practices.  According to the Unauthorized Charlie’s Angels, a typical conversation between producer Aaron Spelling and ABC’s S&P went like this:

Vice President ABC Standards and Practices: The issue is nipples.

Aaron Spelling: Nipples?

Vice President ABC Standards and Practices: We’re seeing nipples. Noticeable, conspicuous nipples. We can’t put nipples on our network.

Aaron Spelling: You’re referring to the fact that Farrah sometimes doesn’t wear a bra?

Vice President ABC Standards and Practices: We counted seven episodes and nineteen instances in which nipples were clearly apparent.

Vice President ABC Standards and Practices: We must stop nipple protrusion on ABC.

By the first season’s end, as full-scale Farrah-mania gripped the country, Fawcett announced she was leaving the show. With ABC in panic, lawsuits were filed, but to no avail. Farrah Fawcett wanted out of the show.  The withdrawal of Fawcett, however, actually pushed the show to greater heights. Summer rerun ratings were enormous, and every tabloid, newspaper, and magazine scored with talk of a new angel and Farrah’s departure. Even Farrah’s non-Angel appearances  promoted the show, as she was repeatedly described as “former-angel Farrah Fawcett-Majors.”

As it turned out, ABC had nothing to worry about. The producer’s taunted and teased the audience as everyone waited to see the new angel, kept secret until the broadcast. At first glimpse, however, it was readily apparent that Cheryl Ladd was the perfect replacement. The second season premiere landed firmly at #1. As before, audiences tuned in for the T&A, and Charlie’s Angels wiggled and jiggled around the Top Ten for two more years.

Farrah continued with an acclaimed career, including the classic TV movies, The Burning Bed, and Small Sacrifices; and her winning performances for the motion pictures Extremities and The Apostle. The latter was an Oscar-worthy performance.

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