How Cheryl Ladd protested the bikini excess of 'Charlie's Angels': 'I got the tiniest one I could find'

Jon San
·Producer, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Each and every episode, the three heroines of the classic Charlie’s Angels TV series would take down shady criminals and sleazy villains by all manner of butt-kicking. And, just as frequently, at least one of them would appear in a bikini.

To critics, the hit ’70s show might have been the epicenter of “Jiggle TV,” but costar Cheryl Ladd, who played angel Kris Munroe from Season Two onward, had a unique method to combat the revealing outfits.

“I had a long talk with [executive producer] Aaron [Spelling] one day about wearing bikinis all the time,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And I said, ‘I'm someone's mother,’ it's really not necessary to have it all the time.”

According to Ladd, who had a young daughter at the time, Spelling agreed. And yet only two episodes later, there she was, in another bikini again. So she got the idea to fight fire with fire.

Cheryl Ladd shooting an episode of "Charlie's Angels." (Photo: Getty Images)
Cheryl Ladd shooting an episode of "Charlie's Angels." (Photo: Getty Images)

“I got the tiniest one I could find that was shocking,” Ladd says. “And the director said, ‘Surely 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.’”

Ladd’s attempt to push the envelope in the episode “Angel on High,” and surely shock the network’s standards department, worked. The episode did air, although they used some clever editing and close-ups to avoid too much skin showing. Spelling waved the white flag, telling the “little rebel,” “I got the message and it won’t happen again.”

Cheryl Ladd wearing the "tiniest bikini" as an act of protest in the Season 3 episode "Angel on High."(Courtesy: Sony Pictures Television)
Cheryl Ladd in the Season 3 episode of Charlie's Angels, "Angel on High."

Despite her act of rebellion, Ladd thinks that the iconic show was a step forward for women on TV, calling it “empowering.”

“We weren't trying to be men,” she says. “We were just smart cookies [who] worked together, wore great clothes and took care of ourselves. Nothing wrong with any of it.”

The TV industry at large though was problematic for women, especially as they got older. Ladd has acted consistently since the days of Charlie’s Angels and has learned to embrace the aging process.

“I think the standard for women is much, much, much tougher,” she says. “But I got crinkles … and if I didn’t have anything on my face that shows I've aged a little bit, that would look weird and I want to work and I want to play women my age.”

But one area where she has, in a way, traveled back in time is with her eyesight. She recently underwent cataract surgery and had her vision restored with the PanOptix Trifocal Lens.

Ladd says the procedure brought her “childhood eyesight back,” adding, “there may be a day when I have to say, ‘Okay, I'm officially old and I don't feel good,’ but it's not now.”

Alcon, maker of PanOptix, has partnered with Ladd. Interested parties should consult with their doctor before any surgical procedure.

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