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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Angel Classics

What's On?: Charlie's Angels, of course.

One of the things I love about Charlie's Angels is the number of people who guest starred over the five seasons. Many were actors who had their time in the limelight the previous decade like Dean Martin, Hugh O'Brian, Michael Callan, Sonny Bono, etc... There were others who were on the verge of becoming household names like Jamie Lee Curtis, Craig T. Nelson, Sally Kirkland, etc... But the thing that always excited me was when a star of yesteryear (and by that I mean earlier than the 60's) would appear on the show. They had some great people come through the Agency door or were captured and brought to justice by the Angels.

Mercedes McCambridge was an Oscar winner for her supporting role in All the King's Men. She was also nominated for her role in Giant which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. She appeared opposite Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar, starred in A Farewell to Arms, and was featured in one of my favorite Tennessee Williams films, Suddenly, Last Summer. Horror fans may recognize her voice as the demon from The Exorcist.

Oscar was also kind to Ray Milland. He won a Best Actor award for The Lost Weekend. Ray Milland appeared in such classics as Dial M for Murder and A Woman of Distinction. Horror fans will also know him from Frogs. I remember the first time I saw him...Escape to Witch Mountain.

I briefly spoke about the possible spin-off of Charlie's Angels called Toni's Boys in a previous post. It would have starred Barbara Stanwyck. Oscar wasn't as kind to Miss Stanwyck. She was nominated four times for a Best Actress Oscar for her roles in Stella Dallas, Ball of Fire, Double Indemnity, and Sorry, Wrong Number, but never won. The Academy was kind enough to give her an honorary award in 1982. Two films I love that she starred in were Walk on the Wild Side and Forty Guns. On TV in The Big Valley is where I first saw her and fell in love.

Oscar also wasn't kind to Theodore Bikel. He was nominated for his supporting role in The Defiant Ones, but lost. He did star in Moulin Rouge (the original), My Fair Lady and was featured in The African Queen. Guest starring on Charlie's Angels isn't the only connection he has to the actresses on the show. He starred in A Dog of Flanders with child actor David Ladd (who later married Cheryl Stoppelmoor) and he appeared a few times on Jaclyn Smith's later series Christine Cromwell.

Ida Lupino was not only an actress, but became one of the first female directors who directed on a regular basis. She was a class act who appeared in High Sierra, They Drive by Night, and On Dangerous Ground. She not only appeared in The Bigamist, but she directed it as well. She even went from directing films to episodes of some of my favorite TV shows like Gilligan's Island, Honey West, and Bewitched. Let's not forget, she also appeared with her husband Howard Duff (who also guest starred on Charlie's Angels) as supervillains Dr. Cassandra and hip henchman Cabala on Batman.

Many from my generation only knew Cesar Romero as The Joker on Batman, but he had a long career before and after that. During the 40's he appeared in a series of movies as The Cisco Kid. He also appeared in Julia Misbehaves, Vera Cruz, and appeared in the William Powell/Myrna Loy film The Thin Man. In 1985, he starred with Tab Hunter and Divine in Lust in the Dust before joining the cast of Falcon Crest.

Femme fatale Marie Windsor appeared in many films playing dangerous women. Her most notable role was in The Narrow Margin, but she also appeared in The Fighting Kentuckian with John Wayne, Song of the Thin Man, and the horror comedy Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, which I was watching, but Mom Smackley fell asleep, so I'll finish it tomorrow. Marie Windsor appeared in two episodes of Charlie's Angels. In her first season appearance, she was murdered by Mercedes McCambridge, but returned to guest star in a fourth season episode as the mother of Kim Cattrall.

Latin heartthrob Fernando Lamas has an equally famous and hunky son Lorenzo Lamas from his marriage to Arlene Dahl. Fernando Lamas appeared in such classic films as The Merry Widow, The Violent Ones, and Dangerous When Wet with his future wife Esther Williams. He also appeared in The Cheap Detective which was another film in the vain of one of my favorite movies Murder by Death, unfortunately not as funny.

One of my first posts to this blog featured Wesley Eure and had some images from a movie called The Toolbox Murders. That film also starred Cameron Mitchell. People today remember the way he looked in that film and his guest appearances in shows like Charlie's Angels. He had a slightly scary persona in these appearances, but he was once a leading man. In fact, he appeared opposite Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire. He also starred in Death of a Salesman, Carousel, and Hombre.

The final person I'm going to feature is Louis Jourdan. This suave French actor appeared in classic films like Gigi, Can-Can, and The V.I.P.s. I will always remember him more for his appearance in Charlie's Angels and the cult comic book film Swamp Thing (not to mention the horrible sequel).

So if you haven't noticed yet, I am concentrating this week on Charlie's Angels because the 34th anniversary of the show's official first season is just around the corner on September 22.

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