TV/Movie Classics: Jaclyn Smith Talks “Charlie’s Angels,” Aaron Spelling And More

Many of our favorite TV starlets from yesteryear have been called “divas,” “hotties” or “beauties,” but only a select few can claim to be “Angels.” Jaclyn Smith is one of them … not just because she’s been considered one of the most beautiful women in the free world, but also because she practically set the world on fire as Kelly Garrett, one of the crime-fighting femme fatales of Charlie’s Angels. Even more impressively, she showed us the brains behind her beauty by launching her own brand of fashion wear, skincare products, wigs and more.

© NBC Universal, Inc. Credit: Dave Bjerke

Why do you think Charlie’s Angels captured the imagination of America?Jaclyn Smith: I think it was new. It was one of the first of its kind with three women in lead roles. It was light. It had a charm to it. It reached audiences young and old. Today, you pick a show, and it could be a great show, but it’s made for a particular audience. … Our demographic was everyone from young kids to older people. It was easy. It was fun. It wasn’t Shakespeare. It wasn’t like you had to go away and think, “I wonder what they meant?” It was just eye candy in a sense … pretty locations, pretty cars, girls dressed up.

I think Aaron [Spelling] and Len Goldberg certainly had their hands on the pulse of America and knew what they wanted to see. They knew how to cast. I think they cast three girls that really went together great, but were total opposites of each other. The casting was a very important ingredient.

Throughout the duration of the show, you ended up being the only “Angel” to outlast casting changes and departures. Did this speak to your commitment to the program? First of all, we signed a contract for five years. Aaron also picked up my option. It was up to him to say “We want you to stay” or “We don’t want you to stay.” If someone was a lot of trouble, they weren’t going to pick up their option. Farrah wanted to drop out after the first season, and there were legal struggles around that. That didn’t really help her, but that was her path and she wanted to do it. Cheryl, on the other hand, came in during the second season, and I’m sure would have fulfilled her contract to the very end. Of the original “Angels,” I was the one who believed in upholding the contract. I loved Aaron Spelling. You couldn’t have asked for a better producer, and Len, too. I felt the show opened the door for us in so many different areas. It was meant to be for me. Listen, I was grateful for the show. I learned a lot from the show.

Despite your success as an entrepreneur and brand ambassador, you still appear in a variety of TV shows and films. What persuades you to take on an onscreen role nowadays? A good script. If it isn’t on the written page, it’s not going to work. It could be a comedy, it could be a drama, it could be anything, but it has to have a character that I can get my teeth into that is somewhat of a departure from the last. If it’s light, then it makes me feel good. I just don’t want to be a presence. I want to have a strong character. I want the story to move me. Then I’m ready.