Seventies Charlie’s Angels Star On Shifting The “Sex Icon” Perception

Seventies Charlie’s Angels Star

On Shifting The “Sex Icon” Perception

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

It’s hard to believe that over thirty years have passed since model and actress Jaclyn Smith became a businesswoman, starting her own women’s apparel clothing line. While many celebrities would be content to enjoy the fame after working on a successful television series, this “Charlie’s Angel” wanted to challenge herself creatively.

Rather than endorse another company, Smith pioneered the concept of celebrities developing their own brands. “At that time, no one had done it, and it felt daunting and daring,” Smith exclusively told SWAAY during an event for the introduction of the ‘Jaclyn Smith Ready to Wear’ clothing collection at Sears. “People said, ‘no, you don’t need to design clothes for Kmart. But I thought it would be interesting to give back to all the people who kept me on television.”

Smith was the only actress from the cast that remained on the hit series for all five seasons.

“It seemed to be a tried and true concept, people young and old loved it…we reached many age groups. Even to this day; to be on a show that we are still talking about 40 years later is incredible,”

If you’ve never watched an episode, Smith played one of the private investigators for Townsend Associates, a detective agency run by a reclusive multi-millionaire whom the ladies never meet. Voiced by actor John Forsythe, the Charles Townsend character present new cases and gave advice via a speakerphone to his three female employees, to whom he referred as “Angels.”

Smith described the experience of starring on “Charlie’s Angels” as fun and exciting. “We became rockstars overnight,” she remarks. “We didn’t stand in line at the movies or Disneyland. Life changed immediately. There wasn’t a lot of time to venture in another direction, because we worked 18 hours a day.”

Rather than endorse another company, Smith pioneered the concept of celebrities developing their own brands. Photo Courtesy of AP

“I learned so much,” she adds. “It was acting school and improv all rolled into one. We worked with many big stars at that time, that wanted to do our show because we were in the top 10.”

While Smith and her costars—Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, Tanya Roberts—were popular due to the show, there was also a strong sense of pressure, to get good ratings and look good.

Still, no matter how big the series got, Smith had a sense of perspective.

“Any time judgment is involved in looking or being a certain way, you have to come from a deeper place, as it is all temporary and superficial,” noted Smith. “I was brought up by a family that was very down to earth, I didn’t put as much stock into that as I did work and how I was going to lead my life. I took it day by day. I am sort of a person who stays in the moment.

While Smith and her costars—Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, Tanya Roberts—were popular due to the show, there was also a strong sense of pressure, to get good ratings and look good. Photo Courtesy of ABC News

The show became successful in worldwide syndication, which inspired a plethora of ancillary products, including bubble gum cards, glamorous, fashion dolls, a variety of posters, puzzles, and school supplies, toy vans, and a board game, all featuring Smith’s likeness. The “Angels” also appeared on magazine covers on TV Guide and Time magazine. Nevertheless, by the fifth season, Smith was ready to move on.

“When you are a celebrity, people expect certain things; they have watched and supported you. They don’t want to see you change either. But change is the most constant part of life.”

The show became successful in worldwide syndication, which inspired a plethora of ancillary products. Photo Courtesy of CineBlog

Smith modeled for Wella Balsam Shampoo and created a fragrance for Max Factor, “getting a taste” for what it took to launch a new product line. “To put my name on a product was a whole new world. Kmart was a whole education in the mass market,” she said.

At the time, there wasn’t enough variety for women’s fashion at the store. “So when I took a meeting with Kmart and went over the possibilities, I thought ‘wow, this would be different.’ I knew this was something I was going to love.” These days, Smith feels pressure to make her new elegant, affordable line as attractive to Sears customers as possible. “I want them to go in there and try it on, and enjoy that shopping experience.”

More than 100 million women have purchased clothing or accessories bearing the Smith’s name. Awareness of her brand for women 35-60 years old is above 80 percent. “From sleek silhouettes to bold prints, my Ready to Wear pieces are designed for every woman looking to express her personalized style,” said Smith. “At the end of the day, it’s really about being true to yourself.” Smith feels her collaboration with Sears is a good fit.

“Like me, Sears understands who its members are and genuinely cares about what they want – to look their best, whether at work or enjoying a night out, with statement-making looks, great details, quality, comfort and style for women of all sizes.”

In June, the very first “Charlie’s Angels” comic book will premiere, which will be based on the action series. While the franchise was already turned into two successful movies with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu in 2000 and 2003, and a TV reboot on ABC in 2011 that lasted just four episodes, a new “Charlie’s Angels” is in the works, with actress Kristen Stewart starring and Elizabeth Banks directing.

The Charlie’s Angels reboot, which has not yet begun filming, is slated to hit theaters June 7, 2019

Susan L. Hornik

Susan L. Hornik is a veteran entertainment and lifestyle journalist in Hollywood. She writes regularly for The Washington Times and Mademan.com.

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