‘Charlie’s Angels’: How Cheryl Ladd rebelled against the show’s bikini excess

In every episode of “Charlie’s Angels”, its three heroines fight crime by any means necessary. Also in every episode, one of them is usually wearing a bikini. Cheryl Ladd joined the Angels in the second season, taking over for Farrah Fawcett as Kris Munroe, the younger sister to Fawcett’s character. And for Ladd, all those bikinis were a bit much. She recently told Yahoo Entertainment about her unique act of rebellion against the skimpy wardrobe. She recalls telling producer Aaron Spelling, “I’m someone's mother. It's really not necessary to have it all the time.” And yet there she was in the next episode, wearing a bikini. So she decided to fight fire with fire. “I got the tiniest one I could find that was shocking. And the director said, ‘Cheryl you can't wear that,’” Ladd says. “I said, ‘Aaron wants me in a bikini. This is the one I'm wearing.’” After shooting the scene, Spelling surrendered saying, “Tell the little rebel I got the message and it won’t happen again.”

Video Transcript


CHERYL LADD: The thing about Charlie's Angels I think that was empowering for women is that we were women. We weren't trying to be men, we were just smart cookies, worked together well, wear great clothes, and took care of ourselves. Nothing wrong with any of it.

I had a long talk with Aaron one day, about wearing a bikini all the time. And I said I'm someone's mother, it's really not necessary to have it all the time. And he said no, no, I understand. And within two episodes I was in another bikini, so I got the tiniest one I could find that was shocking. The director said, Cheryl, you can't wear that. I said, Aaron wants me in a bikini, this is the one I'm wearing. I'll take all responsibility for it. It was a bit of a ruckus, but I was just trying to make a point. At the end he said, tell the little rebel I got the message. And it won't happen again, will it? I just had to do something outrageous and fight for myself and say, OK, here it is. And they had to blow up the shot because there was too much of me showing. But I just-- I just had to make some sort of statement and then it was the only way I could think of to fight back in a way that he would-- that would get his attention.

I think that you can look back at a lot of things, and kind of think, wow, that was interesting for then. I think the standard for women is much, much, much, tougher. Now I want to stay healthy and youthful and fresh, if I can. As much-- but I still want to look like myself, and trying to walk that line is sometimes pretty difficult. I got crinkles, and if I didn't have any crinkles or anything on my face that shows that I've aged a little bit, that would look weird. And I want to work, and I want to play women my age. I'm good with it, I'm happy, I'm blessed.

But my eyesight was so bad that I couldn't drive at night, I felt sort of locked in-- in myself. Like, is this what my life is going to be? And I said, OK, what is there to do about it. And it just so happens that I got my cataracts at the perfect time because they have a pan-optics lens, and its a bifocal lens. So you can read, you can see the computer, and you can see long distance. It gives you the eyesight you had as a youth. And so many people, if they would just go to the eye doctor and figure out what is actually going on. They have this option to have, you know, childhood eyesight back. It's an extraordinary thing when you think about it.