ANGIE DICKINSON Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Angeline Brown                                                                         
Born: 30 September 1931 Kulm, North Dakota, U.S.                                             
Angie Dickinson (born September 30, 1931) is a Golden Globe-winning American                 
television and film actress, perhaps best known for her role as Sergeant Leann "Pepper"     
Anderson in the 1970s crime drama Police Woman.                                             
Dickinson, the second of three daughters, was born Angeline Brown in Kulm, North             
Dakota, to Frederica and Leo H. Brown, who was a small-town newspaper publisher             
and editor. Dickinson's first job was selling Hershey's Kisses for five cents,               
so her sisters could buy ice cream cones. In 1942, her family moved to Burbank,             
California. She graduated from Bellamarine Jefferson High School in 1947, at 15             
years of age. The previous year, she won the Sixth Annual Bill of Rights essay               
contest. She studied at Glendale Community College and in 1954 graduated from               
Immaculate Heart College with a degree in business. Taking a cue from her                   
publisher father, she originally intended to be a writer. While a student from               
1950-52, she worked as a secretary at the Burbank Airport (now Bob Hope Airport)             
and in a parts factory.                                                                     
In 1953, she placed second in a beauty pageant. After conquering the beauty                 
pageant trail, and beginning to establish a name for herself on the big screen,             
Dickinson became one of the more versatile, popular and younger leading                     
character actors of the 1950s and 1960s, guest-starring in dozens of TV series.             
Soon after her first marriage to Gene Dickinson, she decided to pursue an acting             
career under the name Angie Dickinson. She was approached by NBC to guest-star               
on a number of variety shows, including The Colgate Comedy Hour. She soon met               
Frank Sinatra who became a lifelong friend. She played Sinatra's wife in the                 
film Ocean's Eleven.                                                                         
On New Year's Eve 1954, Dickinson made her acting debut in an episode of Death               
Valley Days. This led to other roles in such productions as Buffalo Bill Jr,                 
eight episodes of Matinee Theatre, General Electric Theater, The Life and Legend             
of Wyatt Earp, Broken Arrow, Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, Meet McGraw, The Restless Gun,             
Perry Mason, Mike Hammer, Wagon Train, Men Into Space, and a memorable turn as               
the duplicitous murder conspirator in a 1964 episode of the classic The Fugitive             
series with David Janssen and fellow guest star Robert Duvall. In 1965, she had             
a recurring role as Carol Tredman on Dr. Kildare.                                           
Though Dickinson enjoyed a moderately successful movie career for nearly two                 
decades, and worked with many major directors and top leading men of the 1950s               
and '60s, she did not rise above the status of attractive, reliable working                 
actress - real stardom came later.                                                           
Her film career began with small roles in Lucky Me (a 1954 cameo) with Doris Day,           
The Return of Jack Slade (1955), Man with the Gun (1955), and Hidden Guns (1956).           
She had her first starring role in Gun the Man Down (1956) with James Arness,               
and the Sam Fuller cult film China Gate (1957) which depicted an early view of               
the internal conflicts in Viet Nam. Rejecting the Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield             
style of platinum blonde because she felt it would narrow her acting options,               
Dickinson at first allowed studios to lighten her naturally-brunette hair to                 
only honey-blonde.[citation needed] She appeared mainly in B-movies early on,               
westerns, including Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) co-starring with James                 
It was another western that finally propelled her into Hollywood's A-list:                   
Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo (1959), in which she played a flirtatious gambler named             
Feathers who is almost locked up by the town sheriff played by her childhood                 
idol John Wayne. The film co-starred Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter                   
Brennan. When Hawks sold his personal contract with her to a major studio                   
without her knowledge, she was understandably upset and her hopes that the                   
legendary director would mould her into the next Lauren Bacall seemed dashed.               
In the early 1960s, Dickinson starred in numerous movies, making her one of the             
more prominent leading ladies of the decade, co-starring in The Bramble Bush                 
with Richard Burton and Ocean's Eleven with Frank Sinatra, both released in 1960.           
These were followed by the political potboiler A Fever in the Blood (1961); a               
Belgian Congo-based melodrama The Sins of Rachel Cade (1962), in which she                   
played a missionary nurse tempted by lust; and the European travelogue Rome                 
Adventure (also known as Lovers Must Learn) in 1962, where Dickinson gets to                 
deliver relatively wicked seductress dialogue; and Jean Negulesco's Jessica (1962)           
with Maurice Chevalier, in which she plays a young midwife who is resented by               
the married women of the town. Angie would also share the screen with friend                 
Gregory Peck in the comedy-drama Captain Newman, M.D.                                       
In The Killers, a film originally intended to be the very first made-for-TV                 
movie but sent to the theatres due to its violent content, Angie, reaching the               
apex of her skills as a great femme fatale, is slapped by a villainous boyfriend,           
played by future U.S. President Ronald Reagan in his last movie role. (Dickinson             
was rumored to have been romantically involved with John F. Kennedy at one time,             
thereby providing two intriguing connections to American presidents).                       
But she has never spoken publicly of a relationship with JFK.                               
Dickinson co-starred in the so-so comedy The Art of Love (1965), in which she               
plays the love interest of both James Garner and Dick Van Dyke. She enjoyed                 
moderate success in a string of movies made during the later 1960s and early                 
1970s: the Arthur Penn/Sam Spiegel production, The Chase (1966), flooded with               
present-and-future stars like Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Robert             
Duvall, Miriam Hopkins and others; despite the potential in front and behind the             
camera, the more controversial aspects of the Lillian Hellman script were toned             
down, and the film languished in mediocrity--- although today its cast makes it             
an obvious curio.                                                                           
Dickinson's best movie of this era was arguably John Boorman's cult classic                 
Point Blank (1967) with Lee Marvin as a betrayed thief and convict escaped from             
Alcatraz (and the first movie ever filmed at the infamous prison) out for                   
revenge and the money he believes is due him. Epitomizing the stark mood of the             
period, the film did not acquire an audience or much critical appreciation until             
years later. In 1969, she starred in another Western, Young Billy Young with                 
Robert Mitchum and Jack Kelly, and in Sam Whiskey where she gave young Burt                 
Reynolds his first on-screen kiss. In 1971, she played a lascivious high school             
teacher in the dark comedy Pretty Maids All in a Row with Rock Hudson, and a                 
scary doctor in the sci-fi flick The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler. One of her             
best-remembered movie roles is the tawdry widow Wilma McClatchie in the                     
Depression romp Big Bad Mama (1974) with William Shatner and Tom Skerritt; her               
nude scenes set tongues wagging because this was then considered quite a risky               
move for an established actress of a certain age (she was 42).                               
Dickinson returned to the small screen in March 1974 to play a character on an               
episode of the critically-acclaimed hit anthology series Police Story. That one             
guest appearance proved to be so popular that NBC had decided to turn it into a             
weekly detective series to be called Police Woman, which would make her the                 
first successful female TV police officer. (Beverly Garland and Anne Francis had             
actually done it first, but their shows had been short-lived). Dickinson played             
Sgt. Leann "Pepper" Anderson, a cool, sexy, classy blond member of the Los                   
Angeles Police Department's Criminal Conspiracy Unit. A tough but lovely woman,             
Pepper adopted a number of undercover guises to lure thugs to justice.                       
The role consolidated Dickinson's star status and as an over-40 sex symbol. The             
series became perhaps the first successful prime-time drama to feature a woman               
in the title role. As a result, she became a pop icon of the 1970s. Police Woman             
was shown in more than 70 countries, becoming the number one show in many. It               
was essentially NBC's feminine answer to other successful, male-dominated 1970s             
crime drama series Hawaii Five-O, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan             
and Wife, The Rockford Files and Baretta (later that same season) airing                     
concurrently on three different networks.                                                   
Co-starring on the show was a familiar actor, Earl Holliman (who replaced Bert               
Convy, who had portrayed Crowley in the pilot episode), as Sgt. Anderson's half-Italian     
commanding officer and long-time friend, Sergeant Bill Crowley, and Ed Bernard               
and Charles Dierkop as Investigators Joe Styles and Pete Royster, respectively.             
On the first day of shooting, both Dickinson and Holliman realized their                     
chemistry worked very well, and the writers quickly began tailoring scripts to               
this. (The obvious connection of her character's name, 'Sergeant Pepper,' to the             
legendary Beatles album went virtually unacknowledged.)                                     
On occasion, Dickinson gave her boss's daughter a chance to play the role of her             
autistic young sister, Cheryl, during the 1974 season; the role lasted only a               
few episodes.                                                                               
By the end of its fourth season in 1978, Police Woman had had by far its most               
difficult year, with the ratings dropping due to increasing schedule changes by             
NBC and a level of crispness mostly missing from the program--it was now far                 
from the dynamic series it had originally been in 1974-1975. The scripts seemed             
now to lack the bite they'd had at the outset.                                               
Subsequently, NBC decided to cancel the series after four seasons and 91                     
episodes. But by all accounts, Dickinson enjoyed playing the alluring cop on one             
of television's most influential cop shows ever, and will likely always be                   
fondly remembered for it. (The same year the show came to an end, she reprised               
her Pepper Anderson role on the television special, Ringo, co-starring with                 
Ringo Starr and John Ritter; she also parodied the part in the 1975 and 1979 Bob             
Hope Christmas Specials for NBC; she would do the same years later on the 1987               
Christmas episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live.)                                             
The impact of Police Woman resulted not only in a rash of sexy-but-strong female-driven     
series (mostly of a more fanciful nature) like Charlie's Angels, The Bionic                 
Woman and Wonder Woman during the late '70s, but Angie Dickinson's show                     
reportedly inspired a spate of applications from women for employment to police             
departments around the country. Journalists say they have been surprised by how             
often the Police Woman series has been referenced when asking long-time female               
law enforcement officials about what inspired them to join the force.                       
In 1987, the Los Angeles Police Department awarded Dickinson an honorary                     
Doctorate, which led her to quip, "Now you can call me 'Doctor Pepper.'"                     
After appearing in TV mini-series like Pearl (1978), Dickinson returned to the               
big screen in Brian De Palma's thriller Dressed to Kill (1980), which earned her             
a 1981 Saturn Award for Best Actress. Loved by some and derided by others (largely           
for its violence and a certain crassness), the film featured Dickinson in a 35-minute       
role early in the film which ends with her character's brutal murder in an                   
elevator. Critics hailed her performance and today the film is viewed as a                   
serious entry in the macabre genre, with her silent stalking through the maze of             
a New York City museum being one of the film's stylistic highlights.                         
Despite the career highs of Police Woman in the '70s and Dressed to Kill in 1980,           
Dickinson's focus as an actress now had begun to wane somewhat; in the 60s and               
early 70s, no one questioned her ability.                                                   
She had a less substantial role in Death Hunt with Charles Bronson in 1981, as               
well as Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. She won the 1981 Saturn             
Award for her role as Kate Miller in the Brian De Palma film Dressed to Kill.               
Earlier that year, she had been the first choice to play 'Krystle Carrington' on             
the Dynasty TV series, but turned down the role (which went to Linda Evans).                 
After nixing her own Johnny Carson-produced prospective sitcom, 'The Angie                   
Dickinson Show', in 1980 (after only two episodes had been shot) because she                 
didn't feel she was funny enough, the private eye series Cassie & Co. became the             
resultant, unsuccessful attempt at a TV comeback. She then starred in several TV             
movies such as, One Shoe Makes it Murder (1982), Jealousy (1984), A Touch of                 
Scandal (1984), Hollywood Wives (1985), and Stillwatch (1987).                               
On the big screen, she reprised her role as Wilma in Big Bad Mama II (1987), and             
completed the TV movie Kojak: Fatal Flaw, in which she was reunited with Telly               
Savalas. She co-starred with Willie Nelson and numerous old buddies in the 1988             
TV western Once Upon a Texas Train.                                                         
Dickinson also hosted the Dec. 12, 1987 "Saturday Night Live."                               
In 1982, when she was 50 and yet to undergo any surgery, a panel of Hollywood               
designers and make-up artists ranked her first in a list of Best Female Star                 
In 1993, Dickinson appeared in the futuristic shocker TV-miniseries Wild Palms,             
produced by Oliver Stone, in which she played the sadistic, militant sister of a             
Political Figure Tony Kruetzer. The same year, she starred as a ruthless Montana             
spa owner in Gus Van Sant's bizarre Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Uma Thurman and             
a cast of stellar cameos could not save the picture, which has been called the               
Single Worst Movie of the 1990s. In 1995, she played Burt Reynolds's wife in the             
thriller The Maddening, appeared in the remake of Sabrina with Harrison Ford,               
and played the mother of Rick Aiello and Robert Cicchini in the comedy National             
Lampoon's The Don's Analyst. In 1997, she seduced old flame Artie (Rip Torn) in             
an episode of HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" called "Artie and Angie and Hank               
and Hercules."                                                                               
In a sexy and iconic photograph, Dickinson provided one of the most famous                   
covers of Esquire Magazine, fronting a 1983 list of "Women We Love". The                     
provocative 1966 photo featured Angie bare-bottomed and clad only in a sweater.             
It became so legendary that Britney Spears reproduced the pose for Esquire in               
During the first decade of the new millennium, Dickinson played an alcoholic                 
homeless mother to Helen Hunt in Pay it Forward (2000) with Kevin Spacey;                   
grandmother to Gwyneth Paltrow in Duets (2000); and as Arliss Howard's mother in             
the critically well-received though little-seen Big Bad Love (2001) with Debra               
Having appeared in the original Ocean's Eleven (1960) with good friends Frank               
Sinatra and Dean Martin, she four decades later made a brief cameo in the 2001               
version with George Clooney. Dickinson is often referred to as an honorary                   
member of the Rat Pack.                                                                     
An avid poker player, Dickinson during the summer of 2004 participated in the               
second season of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown. After announcing her name,               
host Dave Foley said "Sometimes, when we say Celebrity, we actually mean it."               
Dickinson is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award.