'Charlie's Angels' Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The show starred Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

ByABC News
September 22, 2016, 1:24 PM
Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith are "Charlie's Angels."
Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith are "Charlie's Angels."
ABC via Getty Images

— -- Happy anniversary, angels!

Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere of the original "Charlie's Angels" TV series. The ABC show, which launched September 22, 1976 (a pilot film aired the previous March), initially starred Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as three "angels" hired by a mysterious millionaire -- Charlie, voiced by John Forsythe -- to work for his detective agency.

They were assisted by Charlie's assistant, Bosley, played by David Doyle.

Fawcett, with her famous blonde locks, became an icon thanks to her role on "Charlie's Angels" -- and the poster of her posing in a red swimsuit that ended up on bedroom walls across the country.

Fawcett quit after one season to pursue a film career, resulting in a legal dispute over her contract. She was replaced by Cheryl Ladd, though she made occasional guest appearances later on.

There were a few more casting changes to come, with the departure of Jackson and the additions of Shelley Hack and then Tanya Roberts, before "Charlie's Angels" signed off for good after five seasons.

Sex appeal was a big part of "Charlie's Angels," and inspired one network executive to refer to it and other programs at that time with female leads as "jiggle" television. It's a phrase that's also been ascribed to the work of "Charlie's Angels" producer Aaron Spelling, whose credits also include "The Love Boat," "Dynasty" and "Beverly Hills, 90210."

"Charlie's Angels" spawned a hit film in 2000 that starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as the angels, and Bill Murray as Bosley. A sequel, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," followed in 2003, with Bernie Mac replacing Murray. A reboot directed by Elizabeth Banks is in the works.

"Charlie's Angels" also returned to the small screen in 2011 for a short-lived ABC remake featuring Minka Kelly.