2018 has been the year of the reboot. Magnum P.I., Murphy Brown, and Lost in Space are just a few to grace our television screens…again. 2019 proves to be no exception with promises of more retro remakes. One such show that we can look forward to seeing again is Charlie’s Angels. This story of three little girls who went to the police academy and then started working for a man they’ve never seen, is one that fans just can’t seem to get enough of. But what many may not know is that one of the angels from the original 1970’s series is a Christian.
Cheryl Ladd is best known for playing Kris Monroe on Charlie’s Angels from 1977-1981. She replaced Farrah Fawcett on the show, coming in as Farrah’s character’s little sister. She stayed until the show ended, but it certainly wasn’t the end of her career. Since then, Cheryl has earned herself an impressively long resume including appearances in television shows Las Vegas, NCIS, and Chuck. She played Grace Kelly in the 1983 Grace Kelly movie and worked alongside Michael Caine in Jekyll & Hyde. She also made appearances in the Christian television series Malibu Dan the Family Man and the Christian film The Perfect Wave.
It’s unsurprising to her family that she grew up to be a successful performer. According to childhood friend Vicky Aughenbaugh in the Angel Week A & E’s Biography, “From the very earliest that I can remember, it was just common knowledge that she was going to be a movie star. When we were growing up it was like she was grooming herself for this position as a movie star. The way she was so dedicated to her dance. We would not go out to play until after she was finished practicing.”
Cheryl not only knew she wanted to be a performer at a young age, she also knew she wanted a relationship with God. She told Smashing Interviews Magazine, “We were exposed to [church], but at a very early age, it was up to us if we wanted to go. My parents really believed that these were choices that we each had to make for ourselves, but my sister and I loved Sunday school. We lived in a little town, and many times my dad was away on the road working, so my mother was mom, dad and everything. She had to get everything done, so sometimes she couldn’t go for whatever reason on Sundays. She’d say, ‘Girls, if you want to go to Sunday school, you go ahead.’ We’d go by ourselves all the time. We really loved Sunday school. When I sang ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ I really believed it.”
However, like many, her spiritual journey wasn’t a completely smooth one. She confided, “Then like a lot of teenagers, I kind of wandered off the path a bit and thought I was controlling my life. God was there, but he was over there for me.”
It was in these early years that Cheryl’s career really started to take off. She got her first big break when she was cast as the singing voice of Melody in the original Josie and the Pussycats cartoon in 1970. “I came out to California as a singer,” she explained, “but acting just overwhelmed everything else. When I first did Josie and the Pussycats, the singing voice of that cartoon character, I got an agent and started being sent out. I did a lot of commercials, a lot of very small parts on television, and acting just took over everything, so my whole career got focused.”
Although they may have been small television parts, they were on very big television programs. Within only a few short years she had made guest appearances on The Partridge Family, The Rookies, Police Woman, and Happy Days among others. Then, in 1977, her whole life changed when she stepped onto the set of Charlie’s Angels.
According to Richard A. Marini of the San Antonio Express-News, “Ladd knew there’d be plenty of apprehension among the cast and crew so, to help break the ice, she arrived on set the first day in a T-shirt that read, ‘Farrah Fawcett-Minor.'” This joke seemed to break the ice and, with that, Cheryl Ladd began her life as a superstar.
During her time on Charlie’s Angels, her likeness was seen on lunchboxes, on magazines, in comic strips, on playing cards, and there was even a doll made in her image. However, not everything in her life was as magical as it would seem. “It’s really interesting that at the height of Charlie’s Angels, I was probably at my lowest point personally,” she told Smashing Interviews Magazine, “I started really asking Him to come back into my life and to be close to Him. I felt this incredible peace happen in the moment I asked, and I’ve been on that path ever since.”
Her faith and family were both tested during Charlie’s Angels when Cheryl was faced with marital problems that ultimately ended in divorce. She told Stephen Hubbard with The Christian Broadcasting Network, “[The divorce] was such a difficult thing to go through. I was really frozen in a whirlwind of self-doubt, fear, pain, and stuff that I couldn’t talk to anybody about. I couldn’t find any peace, and I just kept praying and then one day I just found this peaceful place. I knew that I would get through it, and I knew that [my daughter] would be okay.”
After Charlie’s Angels ended, she married fellow-Christian Brian Russell. Wonderfully, the couple are still married after 37 years together.
Cheryl has since allowed God to take the reins. She spoke with Smashing Interviews Magazine about her role in the Christian film The Perfect Wave, “I actually had been praying about a project like that. I walk my dog every morning and do my exercise and talk to God, saying prayers and counting my blessings. Then I asked God to … I was getting some material sent to me, and there wasn’t anything I wanted to do. It was kind of dark and awful and icky. I said, ‘Lord, thank you for my blessings and successes. I want to do something for you. I want to do something you would have me do that exalts you and uplifts you and will uplift people and help them to get to know you.’ A month later, [The Perfect Wave] was sent, so I knew this was what he wanted me to do.”
With both God and her family by her side, she now gets to see her career come full circle. Back on store shelves, thanks to a collaboration with Mego and Target, is a Charlie’s Angels Kris Monroe doll. I guess it’s proof that in the end, we all want an angel in our lives.